It is hard to say when exactly Brazil first looked at the rest of the world and decided it had to carve out its own brand and personality, but most would say that the seeds were likely planted in 1958, when it won its first World Cup in Sweden. At that moment, Brazil announced to the world (amid widespread envy), its swing, its classy lifestyle, and its soccer stars Garrincha and Pelé.
Perhaps the first Brazilian brand to be truly internationalized—Bossa Nova—was launched in the same year by two brilliant young men, Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto. Bossa Nova soon evolved beyond a musical trend to become a whole attitude of life. The new and more modern Brazil was knocking on the door: even President Juscelino Kubitschek was dubbed as “bossa nova.” In retrospect, the music, in some ways, was an early indicator of the optimism that America’s boom years would spread across the world only a few years later.
Juscelino Kubitschek (aka JK) was not blind to this flood of opportunity that the U.S.’s prosperity brought with it. Noting the enormous potential that lay in furthering Brazil’s international growth, he opened up the economy to foreign investors and encouraged new industries to relocate to Brazil. For the first time ever, automobiles were manufactured entirely in Brazil; VW Beetles rolled off the lines in 1958, in the ABC region of São Paulo. Amid the euphoria of these boom years, President Kubitschek campaigned on his famous catchphrase “Fifty years in five.” He also asked Oscar Niemeyer, a member of the cultural avant-garde, to design the new vision of the capital of Brasília in a location that had nothing to do with beaches, or with any tropical cliché involving bananas.
Brazil’s World Cup win enabled Brazilians to drop their mutt complex. As journalist Joaquim Ferreira dos Santos wrote in his book Happy 1958, The Year That Was Not Supposed to End (Feliz 1958, o ano que não devia terminar), “pride” became a fashionable word.
And now, fifty years after the bossa nova period in Brazil came into fruition, our brand (and bossa nova itself) is once again a rising global star. Brazil is talking to the world, telling people that it is fun loving and highly adaptable, with a flair for improvisation—but always backed by numbers, strategy and lots of hard work.
The aim here is to ask what certain Brazilian brands are doing in relation to what is happening in other countries. Which sectors and markets are more promising? What challenges must they tackle? It’s only a matter of time before Brazilian companies make the Best Global Brands ranking—what do we need to do to make this happen?
Best Global Brands earn at least one third of their sales revenues from other countries; their brands play a key role in purchasing decisions, and they are recognized internationally. The potential is there, so now it is just a matter of linking the numbers to the perceptions. Brazil has strong and consistent brands, but ours numbers are not impressive yet. In other cases, the companies are very strong and sell well, but have no brand.
Over the past two years, several Brazilian scene has seen a high level of demand from companies that want to adapt their brand strategy and identity to the global scenario. The need for a cross-border outlook is now widely accepted, even while businesses continue to run operations locally. Our time has finally come: Brazil is now playing the international circuit, because yes, we have a global attitude, and also a number of other essentials too.
And we are using the lyrics from a musical portrait of Brazil to present the things we do best, that place us under the spotlight and give us a chance to get some major progress in terms of economics, presence, influence and image. Blessed by God, beautiful by nature, gifted with flair and flexibility for tackling any challenge – this is how we are translating the Brazilian identity when we set about building our brands, not without a certain dose of poetic license, of course. As a nation, we know how to work the positive side of a stereotype. We have acquired technical expertise too, then conquered and refined it. We have learned how to ensure quality, and we surely have the knack of finding quick and creative solutions to any situation. And we have the results that show our approach is right. Bring on the bossa! And keep it coming!
There is a new Brazil down there, an emerging global power with a huge cultural content to share. Brazil, with a population of 192m and growing fast, could be one of the world’s five biggest economies by 2025, along with China, America, India and Japan.
Here you are going to get in touch with a Brazil that is much, much more than samba, caipirinha, soccer, and toucans. Although these are (and always will be) strong cultural Brazilian icons.
Adapted from “What About Brazilian Brands?”, a 2010 Interbrand Special Report