Open access peer-reviewed chapter - ONLINE FIRST

A Systematic Review and Research Agenda on Standardization versus Adaptation of Brand Elements in International Markets

Written By

Tamer Baran

Submitted: February 8th, 2022 Reviewed: February 22nd, 2022 Published: May 5th, 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.103866

IntechOpen
Brand Management Edited by František Pollák

From the Edited Volume

Brand Management [Working Title]

Associate Prof. František Pollák and Prof. Peter Markovic

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Abstract

This paper aims to systematically review and critically examine marketing research on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements and explain its importance, given its increasing influence internationally. 46 journal articles indexed in Scopus and Web of Science databases examine with focus on research theme with broad scope approach, one of the types of literature review. The findings show that there is a live stream about the standardization/adaptation of brand elements in the marketing discipline, and contextual, methodological, and thematic diversity. Moreover, the findings of the review also highlight various literature trends and gaps. Results of the current review offer deep insights and create an ambitious research agenda that raises exciting new research questions for researchers. Besides results help to encourage the development of future theories on international branding.

Keywords

  • branding
  • brand elements
  • standardization
  • adaptation
  • systematic review

1. Introduction

In the last few decades, a significant and major change in terms of globalization has taken place as a result of the liberalization of countries’ trade policies, the realization of regional economic integrations, faster flow of goods compared to previous periods, and rapid development in logistics and information and communication technologies [1, 2, 3]. Companies with different national origins from almost every sector have caused an increase in the intensity of competition in the globalizing world [4]. Consequently, the problems related to the design of robust branding strategies to compete effectively and efficiently in the international market have been the focus of relevant research. Perhaps the most important reason for this is that the brand is the most valuable asset of a company [5]. For example, BrandZ’s report states Amazon’s brand value is over $415 billion, Apple’s brand value is over $350 billion, and Microsoft and Google’s brand value are over $320 billion. Moreover, many brands on the list increase their brand values year by year.

The value of a brand is closely linked to the effective use of brand elements. This is because, through brand elements, companies can create a quality perception, associate their brands with some positive features, and reach a high level of brand recognition [5]. In addition, the brand can have a respectable identity, personality, and a high level of awareness and recognition in the consumers’ perspectives [6]. These features will, undoubtedly, give the brand a competitive advantage in the market.

At this point, one of the important issues about branding that international companies need to address is the standardization/adaptation of brand elements in the target market [7]. In international branding, the decision regarding the aforementioned strategies is directly related to the target consumer audience, legal environment, the transferability of the company’s marketing skills, and the characteristics of the product [6]. Therefore, international branding is more complicated than local branding [8], and, for this reason, it is not possible to state that standardization/adaptation strategies should be preferred over the other.

Due to the importance of the topic, it has become inevitable for both academics and decision-makers to seek an answer to the question of how to manage brand elements successfully in international markets [7]. In the literature reviews on the topic, some authors [9, 10, 11] discussed the topic within the framework of international marketing. On the other hand, in the limited number of systematic literature reviews on branding, some authors [12, 13] studied brand orientation, while others [14, 15] focused on brand loyalty. However, studies failed to attach enough importance to the standardization/adaptation of brand elements. Therefore, the lack of studies on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements draws attention in the literature.

In this context, the present review aimed to consolidate extant research, establish links with different literature studies, identify gaps between and within research streams, and bring together all the components as much as possible. To this end, I conducted a systematic review of research on brand elements to make suggestions for further research. At this point, I specifically aimed to highlight, clarify, rationalize, and interpret the similarities and differences among studies in terms of content and methodology and draw conclusions about future research directions. Since only a limited number of systematic reviews have been conducted on the topic, the current review is expected to make a meaningful and profound contribution to the field.

The paper is organized as follows: the following section provides an overview of the employed review protocols and the rationale behind them. Next, the results of the systematic review are presented. Then, both a descriptive and thematic analysis of the extant literature and show the breadth and depth of the available knowledge are provided. The review is ended with a discussion of the main gaps in the literature that were detected and suggestions for future research directions.

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2. Methodology

Despite numerous studies on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements in international marketing literature conducted over the last few decades, no effort has been made to systematically review these studies findings. The present review aimed to examine the studies on the topic comprehensively and systematically reveal the research evidence. In their comprehensive study, [16] categorized review types according to their characteristics and obtained 14 review types, including the systematic literature review (SLR). Accordingly, a SLR is the process of systematically searching for, evaluating, and synthesizing research evidence, often adhering to guidelines on the conduct of a review. In this type of review, the subject is handled carefully and clearly [17, 18].

SLRs have some important advantages over other review types. An SLR improves the quality of the review process and outputs [19], reduces the level of error in the research and the bias of the researcher [20, 21], increases the validity of the process since the review process is carried out without leaving any details open to interpretation [22], allows the researcher to focus on a specific research area [23], and finally, provides information to the stakeholders in a comprehensive framework [20, 24]. Due to these superior characteristics, studies employing the SLR method in various research areas such as blockchain technology [25], preventive medicine [26], and sustainability [27] have been published in a fairly high number of prestigious journals. For these reasons, the current review, aiming at a comprehensive, valuable, and advanced review of the standardization/adaptation of brand elements, employed the SLR method.

Several approaches have been put forward regarding the stages of a SLR. Tranfield et al. [21] suggested that the SLR process basically consists of three stages: planning the review, conducting a review, and reporting and dissemination. The authors also proposed a total of 10 steps under these three main stages. On the other hand, Khan et al. [28] discussed the stages of a systematic review under five headings: framing questions for a review, identifying relevant work, assessing the quality of studies, summarizing the evidence, and interpreting the findings. Magarey [29] grouped the stages of an SLR under six headings: formulation of a research question, literature search, selection of studies to be included in the review, data extraction, analysis and synthesis, and reporting the results. Vrontis and Christofi [18] employed a 7-step process consisting of the following steps: question formulation, inclusion criteria, search strategy, exclusion criteria, selecting relevant studies, further search processes, and extraction, analysis, and synthesis. One of the most comprehensive definitions of the process belongs to Okoli and Schabram [30]. The authors defined an 8-step guide to conducting an SLR: defining the purpose of the literature review, protocol, and training, searching for the literature, practical screen (inclusion criteria), quality appraisal (exclusion criteria), data extraction, synthesis of studies, writing the review. This review employed the 7-step process proposed by Vrontis and Christofi [18].

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3. SLR process

3.1 Question formulation

Although some authors [18, 28, 30] define this stage with different words, the point on which all authors agree is that the most important step for an SLR, as in all research in the field of marketing [31, 32, 33, 34], is the formulation of the research question. Formulating the research question clearly plays a key role in the success of the research as it shapes the future stages of the research. While formulating the research question of the present review, I focused on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements. Following Vrontis and Christofi [18] and collaborating with marketing researchers who have studied on the topic, I formulated the research question: What is the main focus of studies on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements in the marketing literature?

3.2 Inclusion criteria

Vrontis and Christofi, Dada and Wang and Chung [18, 20, 22] applied three inclusion criteria to decide which studies to include in their systematic review: (1) to determine the search boundaries; (2) to identify the search strings, and; (3) to specify the search timeframe. In this review, I employed the first two criteria: to determine the search boundaries and to identify the search strings. Considering the previous SLRs, some authors [35, 36] conducted the SLR process on a journal basis whereas many other authors [17, 18, 19, 20] conducted their review on a database basis. Since the database-based process is preferred more in SLRs, the present review followed this process. In the studies mentioned above, the researchers focused on EBSCOhost Business Source Complete, ScienceDirect, and Emerald databases but overlooked Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus databases. For this reason, WoS and Scopus databases formed the boundaries of this review. Furthermore, following the suggestions put forward by Kauppi et al. [23], I created a comprehensive list of search terms related to the research topic. My purpose here was to minimize the possibility of excluding search terms related to the research topic. As stated above, I did not specify a specific search timeframe; therefore, I included all the studies on the topic, regardless of when they were conducted. I did this to eliminate the possibility of excluding important studies on the topic.

3.3 Search strategy

Khan et al. [28] state that researchers can use at this stage many criteria as research criteria such as title, abstract, full text, keywords, language, category, words other than keywords, etc. At this point, the researcher has the freedom to choose data sources and selection criteria [35]. In this context, the present review used all of the criteria mentioned above, and the first review was conducted to cover all relevant studies. I identified the search terms following [7]. These authors found that standardization and adaptation are stated with different terms in marketing terminology. Accordingly, some authors [37, 38, 39, 40] used the term “standardization,” while others (e.g., [1, 2, 41, 42, 43, 44]) used the term “globalization.” Also, some authors (e.g., [1, 3, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49]) used the term “adaptation,” while some others (e.g., [2, 3, 50, 51]) used the term “customization.” Apart from these, some authors [48, 52, 53, 54] preferred the British spelling of “standardization” (“standardization”), “globalization” (“globalization”) [55, 56] and “customization” (“customization”) [52, 57, 58]. In this review, I used all the terms mentioned above in the database search to minimize the possibility of missing the studies on the topic.

On the other hand, the brand elements forming this review’s topic were collected in three groups name, symbol, and slogan by Aaker [5] and Kotler and Keller [59]. Moreover, the symbol element consists of the components of logos, packaging, human, scenes, and cartoon characters. On the other hand, regarded name, slogan, symbol, logo, packaging, and character as well as URL and jingle as brand elements [6]. Kapferer [60] defined brand elements as name, slogan, symbol, logo, packaging, brand character, and color and sound. In the present review, as brand elements, I used the keywords of name, slogan, symbol, logo, packaging, and character, on which the above-mentioned authors agree, to identify the studies on brand elements. Thus, not only did I cover the studies on the topic at a maximum level but also determined the boundaries of the review.

Accordingly, I formulated the following search formula: (brand) AND (name OR slogan OR symbol OR logo OR packag* OR character) AND (standardi* OR globali* OR adaptation OR customi*). My first search with the inclusion criteria yielded a total of 1571 (Scopus, 577; WoS, 494) articles in databases.

3.4 Exclusion criteria

The sample of related studies that emerged after the first search was in need of a new appraisal to further clarify the most relevant studies. In this context, I followed the suggestions of various authors. First of all, although the field of the current review was business, the first sample contained articles from many different fields (e.g., environmental science, dermatology, pharmaceutical science, civil engineering, etc.). For this reason, following Khan et al.’s [28] suggestions, I selected the category of business. Next, following advanced SLR studies [35, 61], I selected full-text articles. Thus, I was able to exclude non-academic studies such as reviews, conference papers, book chapters, and books. As a result of the second exclusion, I noticed that there were articles in languages other than English (e.g., French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.). Therefore, in the third exclusion step, I excluded non-English articles. I did this for two reasons: Firstly, I do not know the mentioned languages, and secondly, and more importantly, I wanted to focus on a common scientific knowledge base represented by the majority of prestigious scientific journals [23]. Thus, I accessed a total of 208 articles (Scopus, 131; WoS, 77), including duplicate records. As a result of the detection and removal of duplicate records, the two databases yielded a total of 173 articles on my research topic.

3.5 Identifying relevant studies

I completed carefully the inclusion and exclusion processes described above. Next, adhering to the processes of Nolan and Garawan [62], I first examined the titles and then the abstracts of the new list that emerged. At this point, I preferred not to comply with very strict rules. In other words, without stipulating a condition such that the titles of the studies fully or partially fit the research question of this review, I tried to identify the studies that would help explain the topic as much as possible. I excluded the studies that were not related to both standardization/adaptation and brand elements. By doing so, I aimed to include articles that would contribute to developing an insight into the standardization/adaptation of brand elements, even though they focused on other topics. Subsequently, I started the full-text review process. The full-text review process yielded a total of 37 articles that I deemed appropriate to be included in the review.

After this stage, I carefully examined all selected studies reference lists and tried to identify major relevant studies that I had failed to include in the review. Cross-referencing helped me to retrieve nine more articles, thus increasing the number of studies to 46. Figure 1 demonstrates the research process steps of the current review detailed above.

Figure 1.

Research process.

The remainder of the paper focuses on mapping the field by making use of the descriptive and thematic analysis obtained from the final list resulting from the systematic review and reporting the findings in an integrative framework. In the analysis stage, Gaur and Kumar’s [35] “focus on research theme with broad scope” approach, one of the types of literature review, was used. Accordingly, the findings of selected articles reviewed by two academics with Ph.D. degrees in marketing were presented.

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4. Findings

4.1 Descriptive findings

The analysis of the existing literature on standardization/adaptation in international branding contributed to the determination of the focus of the relevant studies and the gaps in the literature and the development of suggestions for future research directions. This section reports the publication outlets from which the data were collected, fields of research, year of publication, the type of articles published, author’s characteristics, and industrial analysis of the reviewed papers to provide a preliminary map of the existing literature and identify possible gaps that need further research.

4.2 Studies by year of publication, type of paper, and methods

According to Table 1, which outlines the studies by year of publications, there has been an increase in studies on standardization/adaptation in branding since the 2000s. Studies on the topic reached a peak in 2015 (n = 4). Although the topic started to be studied by academics more than 30 years ago, the number of studies has been increasing recently. The number of studies on standardization/adaptation in branding has increased significantly in the second decade compared to the previous decade (30% increase compared to the first decade). Moreover, approximately 30% of the studies have been carried out in the last five years. This indicates that researchers interest in the topic has increased over the years, and the research area has evolved. The review yielded that the listed articles were published in a wide range of journals. The studies were mainly (46%, n = 21) published in marketing journals, followed by brand-related journals (20%, n = 9). Seven studies (15%) were published in journals on general business, and others (20%, n = 9) were published in journals focused on different fields. The journal with the highest number of published studies on the topic (13%, n = 6) was the Journal of Product and Brand Management, followed by International Marketing Review (11%, n = 5).

YearsJPBMJTIBIJEBRIMRJBMJoBMJIBSEJMJMIBRJAPCJBRJIntMMSQSBGBERIJASSJIMMRRMSIJRMBJMJBIMIJMJMCSDJCMTotal
198911
199411
199711
200111
20021113
2004112
20051113
20071113
2008112
2009213
20101113
20111113
201211
2013112
20141113
20152114
201611
20171113
201811
20191113
2020112
611531132112111121111211121146

Table 1.

Distrbution of studies by years and journals.1

 Till the end of June 2020.


Notes:JPBM, Journal of Product and Brand Management; JTIB, Journal of Teaching in International Business; IJEBR, International Journal of E-Business Research; IMR, International Marketing Review; JBM, Journal of Brand Management; JoBM, Journal of Bank Marketing; JIBS, Journal of International Business Studies; EJM, European Journal of Marketing; JM, Journal of Marketing; IBR, International Business Review; JAPC, Journal of Asian Pacific Communication; JBR, Journal of Business Research; JIntM, Journal of Interactive Marketing; MSQ, Managing Service Quality; SB, Service Business; GBER, Global Business and Economic Review; IJA, International Journal of Advertising; SS, Social Semiotics JIM, Journal of International Marketing; MRR, Management Research Review; MS, Marketing Science; IJRM, International Journal of Research in Marketing; BJM, Baltic Journal of Management; JBIM, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing; IJM, International Journal of Marketing; JMC, Journal of Marketing Communications; SD, Strategic Direction; JCM, Journal of Consumer Marketing.

4.3 Studies by the number of authors and authorship origin

As can be inferred from Table 2 indicating the number of authors of the studies, the studies with a single author constituted the least number (15%, n = 7). In other words, most of the studies were conducted by more than one author, and the highest number (33%, n = 15) belonged to the studies conducted by three authors. Moreover, the majority of the studies (63%, n = 29) were conducted by researchers from the same country. The lowest rate (9%, n = 4) among the studies that included information about the authorship origin belonged to those published by academics from three different countries.

Authors’ characteristicsNumber%
Number of authors
1715
21328
31533
4 and more1124
Number of countries
12963
21124
349
No info24

Table 2.

Authors’ information of studies.

As regards the authorship origin, authors from the USA were in the first place (n = 19), followed by Australia (n = 14), Spain (n = 8), and China (n = 7) (Figure 2). In addition, considering the regions from which author contributions come from, the majority of authors (46%, n = 47) come from Europe, followed by America (21%, n = 22), Asia (18%, n = 19), and Australia (15%, n = 15).

Figure 2.

Origins of studies’ authors.

4.4 Studies by geographic coverage

According to Figure 3, where the studies are presented in terms of geographic coverage, most of the studies (30%, n = 14) are based in more than one country. As can be inferred from the figure, the geographic coverage is narrow in studies based in a single country. Most of the studies based in a single country were conducted in China (24%, n = 11), followed by the USA (4%) and Pakistan (4%), with two studies each. Studies based in a single country focused on five countries (11%), both from Europe and Asia each. On the other hand, Australia was examined in only one study (2%), while the African continent was completely ignored. In fact, none of the studies focused on Central Asia and the Middle East. Finally, eight studies (17%) included no information about their geographic coverage.

Figure 3.

Geographical coverage of the studies.

4.5 Thematic analysis

As part of SLR, thematic analysis develops an integrative perspective on the focus of relevant research [17]. In this context, in this review, following Aakers approach [5], three themes, namely name, symbol, and slogan, related to international branding, were determined. Since some authors [5, 60] divide the symbol into three sub-themes, namely, logo, packaging, and character, this review also considered these three sub-themes, thus increasing the number of elements to five. Appendix A presents the studied articles according to their themes. As can be inferred from the table, a majority of the studies focus on the brand name, followed by studies on multiple brand elements. On the other hand, none of the reviewed studies focuses solely on the slogan.

Appendix B describes the sectors on which the studies are focused. 30% of the reviewed articles contain no information regarding the studied sector due to either their nature (conceptual study, literature review, etc.) or failure to specify the topic. On the other hand, those that mention the studied sector mostly focus on more than one sector (28%, n = 13). Besides, those that focused on a single sector were mostly (11%, n = 5) conducted in the context of consumer goods.

Following this, the review on each of these themes revolved around the main research focus of the reviewed articles. Findings of the current study show that studies on the topic mostly deal with consumer behavior towards different brand elements. For example, some studies [63, 64, 65] aimed to determine the effect of the brand name on consumer behaviors, while others [66] sought to determine the effect of the packaging on consumer behaviors. On the other hand, the most studied topic is standardization and adaptation in branding. At this point, some researchers [67] focused solely on standardization in branding, while others [68, 69] focused solely on adaptation. In addition, some of the studies on the field discussed the topic more specifically and dealt only with the standardization or adaptation of brand elements. For example, Alashban et al. [70] and Okazaki [71] examined the standardization of the brand name, whereas Barnes et al. [72], Usunier, and Shaner [73] studied the adaptation of the brand name. Khan et al. [74] investigated the standardization of symbols, another brand element, while Khan et al. [75] studied the adaptation of the packaging. The analysis also yielded cross-cultural studies, one of the important topics of international branding. In this context, some authors [76, 77] dealt with the topic from a broader perspective, while others [78] investigated it in the context of packaging, which is one of the brand elements. Furthermore, some studies [79, 80] tried to reveal the relationship between brand elements and the country of origin in the context of consumer behaviors.

On the other hand, it was found that some issues related to the topic were not addressed in the reviewed studies. For example, the effects of positioning in international branding [81], and branding on firm performance [82] were each the topic of only one study.

4.6 Gaps for future research directions

This section is devoted to the gaps thought to guide future research (in terms of theory, methodology, authorship, and scope) in hopes of helping future studies. I believe that these research gaps will provide fruitful research avenues for further research.

4.6.1 Theory

As a result of the present review, several issues emerged in terms of theory. First of all, though some authors have contributed to the field using several theories (brand name standardization/adaptation, consumer behavior, etc.), some issues related to international branding still lack a clear theoretical basis. Our finding is similar to and supports previous studies in other fields (e.g., [83, 84, 85]. Therefore, I suggest that academics studying the standardization/adaptation of brand elements should focus on studies that are blended with other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, etc., where the ideas and theories in these disciplines are used more, and they should try to present a wider perspective.

Second, the reviewed studies give little coverage to Aaker’s [5] brand equity and Keller’s [6] brand elements, which are generally accepted in the literature. Brand loyalty and perceived quality concepts were encountered in a few studies [5], whereas brand elements were almost never encountered [6]. Therefore, it is recommended that future research focus on brand association, brand awareness, brand identity, brand personality, brand recognition, and brand recall.

Third, when the suggestions for future research were evaluated in terms of literature themes, it was found that the studies focused on a certain theme, as was seen in previous reviews [83]. A significant portion of the studies [63, 64, 65, 68, 69, 72, 86] was found to focus on the brand name while those on symbols were found to focus on the packaging [74, 78, 87]. Our findings reveal that the literature still needs studies on slogans, logos, and characters. Therefore, I anticipate that studies on standardization/adaptation related to these elements, which will be supported by different theories, will attract significant attention.

Additionally, our findings showed that the standardization/adaptation of brand elements in international marketing concentrates especially on China in terms of cultural theory but fails to notice different cultures. For this reason, it is recommended that scholars who are interested in the topic carry out studies to reveal the perspectives of consumers from different cultures.

4.6.2 Methodology

The results of the current review highlight the obvious insufficiency of qualitative research on the topic. It is probable that the main reason for this insufficiency is the difficulties in analyzing the data obtained through the qualitative research design. However, information obtained through various approaches is needed to reach more in-depth information about standardization/adaptation in branding, which is predicted to make important contributions to the field. Identifying the antecedents and successors of the complex structures of the topic and adding them to the existing knowledge base and valid research methods require significantly more qualitative inquiry.

4.6.3 Authorship

The findings of the review may lead to the interpretation that South American and African authors have made no contributions to the field. It is obvious that studies to be carried out by South American and African writers in their own regions or in other regions with international cooperation will enrich the field.

As stated above, researchers from the USA and Australia make up more than half of the total authors. Therefore, I recommend that researchers from other countries conduct research and enrich the field. Moreover, it was found that co-authorship was not at a sufficient level in the reviewed studies, and most of the studies were carried out by academics from the same country. For this reason, this finding presented an important opportunity for international authors on the topic. In this context, I believe that studies to be carried out by researchers from different cultures and different continents or regions will make significant contributions to the field.

4.6.4 Context

Industrial focus:First, most of the reviewed articles clearly support the literature on the manufacturing industry. Therefore, there is an obvious need for studies that can reveal more findings related to the service sector to generalize the results of the reviewed studies. Second, although there has been an increase in the number of studies focusing on more than one sector, studies comparing different sectors will always maintain their importance in every period. This is because cross-sectorial differences are subject to inconsistencies between the findings of studied sectors and those of other sectors [17]. Therefore, conducting research to compare sectors that have not been studied in the literature is an important opportunity that the present review offers researchers. Third, the studies on the topic conducted so far have focused on consumer goods. Hence, examining a wide variety of industry contexts and a better understanding of the relationships between models through analysis at the sectoral level are expected to enrich the literature.

Geographical scope: Undoubtedly, one of the important factors that make a theory robust is the test of applicability in the context of different geography and development levels and the comparability of findings. In this direction, developing economies cover a wide variety of countries in terms of both their geographical locations and development levels. Considering our findings in this context, the researchers, who planned to address the standardization/adaptation of brand elements at a single country level, focused on the USA and Australia but overlooked developing economies such as Brazil, Russia, and India, which are defined as BRIC. It was seen that the country among the developing economies that received the most focus was China. Similarly, regarding MINT countries, no studies focused on Mexico, Indonesia, and Nigeria, whereas only one study was conducted in the context of Turkey. The findings of the present review revealed that future research to be conducted in these countries would fill an important gap in the literature.

One of the most important points in international branding is cultural influences and consumers reactions in different cultures to the standardization/adaptation of brand elements [76, 77]. When our findings are considered from a cultural perspective, China attracts the most attention in the studies. This is acceptable from a cultural perspective as China hosts one of the worlds most interesting cultures. However, apart from China, it was seen that India, the Middle East, the African continent, and Northern European countries such as Sweden and Norway failed to attract enough attention. Although the highest number of studies in the geographic context belongs to the studies comparing countries, the fact that these studies did not focus sufficiently on the above-mentioned cultures stands as an important opportunity for researchers who want to enrich the literature. Doing so will also help companies find an answer to the question of what kind of strategy they should implement in different cultures.

Based on the above comments, an important gap that emerged as a result of the review is the tendency to focus on relatively few regions and countries. Over-focusing on contexts such as China, the US, and Europe can lead to false generalizations about other contexts, about which I still know very little. The extant literature obviously reveals invaluable information on the topic. However, studies in geographic areas such as Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, and even Japan, which have been researched in only a small number of studies, are likely to reveal new theoretical developments and novel insights into the topic. Moreover, the field deserves to be enriched in the context of these regions. In this context, to expand the geographic coverage of the field, I recommend reaching out to academics or industry stakeholders from countries where research is planned, who are likely to have a deeper contextual understanding and can assist scholars in accessing data that is often difficult to retrieve in such countries.

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5. Conclusion and limitations

5.1 Theoretical contributions

First of all, the current review is the first systematic review of studies on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements in the field of international marketing. In this regard, the review has the potential to substantially enrich and expand the literature on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements. Further, systematic approaches to the topic are still very limited. As emphasized by some scholars (e.g. [88]), systematic reviews contribute to resolving definitional ambiguities and outlining the scope of the topic, offer an integrated, synthesized overview of the current state of knowledge, identify inconsistencies in prior findings and potential explanations, appraise extant methodological approaches with unique insights, present conceptual frameworks related to previous research, and describe existing gaps and future research directions. Similarly, this review mapped research on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements, structured results from the extant literature, and provided unique and general insights that allowed for an easier and better understanding of the relevant literature.

Secondly, the present systematic review made a substantial contribution to the identification of theoretical synthesis and development opportunities on the topic. Moreover, given that the strength of using the systematic review approach is to provide a solid evidence basis for future research directions, I hope that researchers interested in this topic will use this work as a basis for further expanding the research on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements.

Thirdly, the results of this review highlight a number of knowledge gaps to be filled by future research regarding the following purposes: developing a stronger theoretical basis on the topic, achieving a better contextual positioning, and adapting methodologies that are more exploratory in nature. These arguments can lay the groundwork for the emergence of research that can make significant contributions to the development of the field because the gaps highlighted in the literature reveal the issues overlooked in previous studies on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements. Such an analysis can at least provide a more holistic understanding of the nature of research on standardization/adaptation of brand elements and encourage conceptual expansion and empirical research in a field of review that may have more theoretical and practical relevance than ever before.

5.2 Contributions to practice

Besides significant insights on theory, our findings also make important contributions to practice. Most importantly, our review contributes to determining appropriate strategies in the context of the standardization/adaptation process of brand elements in geographical, cultural, etc. For example, should decision-makers prefer standardization by using the brand image in different cultures, such as the Far East, Middle East, Europe, USA, etc., or should they prefer adaptation by considering differences in different geographies? Moreover, what strategies to be used for consumers of countries with different levels of development will provide more benefits to the company? Decision-makers can determine the best strategy by considering the findings of this review.

In conclusion, I hope that, with this review, researchers can be encouraged working and planning to work in the field to appreciate the rich data of previous research. Through the relevant structures that I uncovered using the process in the review, I think it would be beneficial for new ideas to benefit from the present review.

5.3 Limitations

As with all studies, this review has a number of limitations, which should be considered when examining the findings. First of all, since the focus of this review was previous research on the standardization/adaptation of brand elements, I did not provide detailed recommendations linking the elements, which would be the logical next step. Second, this review covered studies indexed in certain databases: Web of Science and Scopus databases, which seemed to have been overlooked in previous reviews, were reviewed. Although I tried to eliminate this problem as much as possible by thoroughly examining the reference lists in the articles included in the review, I may have still failed to observe studies indexed in databases outside of these databases. Third, I used certain keywords to identify the studies to be examined. Doing so may have potentially led us to miss some relevant research. Nevertheless, I believe that our rigorous systematic review process reduces the likelihood that the studies that were unintentionally left out contain information that would critically change our results. Finally, I carried out the analysis process only thematically, in line with Gaur and Kumar’s [35] classification. Moreover, our approach was carried out in light of one of the thematic classifications. This, in turn, inevitably resulted in the failure to evaluate some of the information in the studied studies.

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ThemesPapersn%
Theme 1: NameAlashban et al. [70], Baptista [89], Barnes et al. [72], Chan [68], Cheng and Yeung [63], Chiang [76], Dawar and Parker [90], Dong and Holmes [91], Fetscherin et al. [64], Francis et al. [86], Gao et al. [65], Jiang [92], Kuehl and Mantau [93], Miranda and Konya [94], Ranchhod et al. [79], Rosen et al. [69], Samiee et al. [80], Sang and Zhang [95], Timmor and Zif [96], Usunier and Shaner [73]2146
Theme 2: Slogan0
Theme 3: Symbol3a: CharacterHofer [82], Zhou et al. [97]24
3b: LogoTorres et al. [98]12
3c: PackageCelhay et al. [78], Horská et al. [87], Khan et al. [66], Khan et al. [74, 75]511
Theme 4: Multiple elementsAgrawal et al. [99], De Meulenaer et al. [100], Erdogmus et al. [77], He and Lu Wang [67] Jiménez-Asenjo and Filipescu [101], Jeong et al. [102], Jorda´-Albin˜ana et al. [103], Kadirov et al. [104], Okazaki [71], Paliwoda and Slater [53], Punyatoya et al. [105], Schuh [106], Steenkamp and Geyskens [107].1328

IndustryStudy(ies)
AutomotiveFetscherin et al. [64], Kuehnl and Mantau [93]
BankingCheng and Yeung [63], Ranchhod et al. [79]
Consumer goodsAgrawal et al. [99], Dawar and Parker [90], Jorda´-Albin˜ana et al. [103], Schuh [106], Steenkamp and Geyskens [107]
CosmeticBarnes et al. [72]
FoodHorská et al. [87], Khan et al. [74, 75]
Luxury retailingLiu et al. [108]
MediaChiang [76].
MiningBaptista [89]
MixedDe Meulenaer et al. [100], Dong and Holmes [91], Freeman et al. [109], He and Wang [77], Hofer [82], Jeong et al. [102], Jiang [92], Khan et al. [66], Khan et al. [74, 75], Okzaki [71], Rosen [69], Timmor and Zif [96], Torres et al. [98]
MovieGao et al. [65]
No informationAkaka and Alden [81], Alashban et al. [70], Chan [68], Erdogmus et al. [67], Francis et al. [86], Kadirov et al. [104], Miceli et al. [110], Miranda and Konya [94], Paliwoda and Slater [53], Punyatoya et al. [105], Samiee et al. [80], Sang and Zhang [95], Usunier and Shaner [73], Zhou et al. [97]
WineCelhay et al. [78], Jiménez-Asenjo and Filipescu [101]

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Written By

Tamer Baran

Submitted: February 8th, 2022 Reviewed: February 22nd, 2022 Published: May 5th, 2022