Can Romanian brands compete globally? Just ask Inna!

If you missed Zilele Biz I’d like to give you a summary of my presentation. Even if you were there, the stuff below serves as a good reminder for Marketers and leaders alike. Before I go into the really interesting topic-Inna (Romania’s singing sensation) I would like to draw a parallel on what it takes for your service/product or solution to earn global success. Any of the points below will apply as it does for Inna.

Successful global brand requirements:

1)     Talent/Quality

Any product or service (let’s call it ‘product’ for brevity) needs to be top quality or at least needs to be perceived as having unwavering quality. Think of Mercedes or American Express. These companies like others have demonstrated time and time again that quality makes the customer come back.

2)     Energy/Sustainability

Your product has to be number one in the ‘hearts and minds’ of your customers that means you need to constantly push away the competition regardless what they throw at you. Nokia which was the best mobile phone company in the early 2000’s slowly ‘got their lunch eaten’ by Blackberry. Now BlackBerry is getting kicked by Iphone. ‘You snooze…you lose’.

3)      People; Let me be more specific: Management, team members, partners and suppliers.

It’s all about people.  You get the best leader in charge of an organization and magic   happens. If you have a tyrant at the head of an organization – you have chaos.

Suppliers can become your most important ally. John F. Love in ‘Behind the arches’ paints a dramatic look on how McDonald’s transformed ‘Mom and Pop’ suppliers into multi-million dollar firms.

4) Marcomms (Marketing Communications), Managing media/Social media initiatives.

This is where the marketing purists do their mixing: the classic and the new; conventional and social media. Be careful however. Social media is not the panacea for all Marcomms. Classical media (TV, print, radio and outdoor) still carry a lot of weight.

5)     New Product Development (NPD)  and Determination

Take a look at how many times Samsung is launching new products and that will indicate the type of momentum and dizzying pace it takes to stay alive in a market where customers want more speed/features/ time savers and benefits.

6)     Luck

In a recent interview Johnny Depp told Larry king that industry experts referred to Depp’s first 20 years of his acting career as ‘ Box office poison’. Then he was offered the role in Pirates of the Caribbean. Depp said ‘Yes I was lucky at that moment but I also knew that if someone gave me the ball… I had to run with it ‘. Luck plays a vital role in business. Question is: Are you ready when luck comes your way?

7) Pride. More on that later.

So how does Inna stack up?

1)     Talent/Quality

In an age of music artists that can fake their way to the top, I can assure you this lady can sing. She sings live every moment that she can including live radio interviews (not to mention in 4 languages: Romanian, English French and Spanish). She’s been singing since she was eight years old and still continues to improve herself.

2)     Energy/Sustainability

Remember the last time you had a cold/flu? You felt miserable, calling in sick at work and you just wanted to sleep. When you have on average 12 concerts in 12 different countries per month – you can’t ‘call in sick’. In fact you have to sing even with a sore throat. With jet lag, meeting fans, TV/radio interviews, red carpet appearances, meeting fans before the show, sound checks, hair, make-up, performing the show and still meeting fans backstage after the show…’this life isn’t easy’. Inna has more energy than her whole team combined. She cherishes meeting fans after the show, signing autographs and genuinely takes an interest in all of them. She sustains this energy by continuously pushing herself. Here lies the secret of keeping the competition at bay.

3)     People

Inna’s Manager is Lucian Stefan. In his twenties, this fellow has the abilities and competencies of a multinational CEO twice his age in my opinion. Lucian has created the right environment and hired a small team to support him including Marian Dorobantu, Creative Director.  By team I also mean stakeholders/partners such as Play and Win who are extremely talented: They do the composing, lyrics,  production, mixing and the mastering (quite rare) since in the US only one company/entity will do one of these activities – not all four.

Roton is the music label and the core team also includes 4 main suppliers; Edward Aninaru (Photographer),  Maria Andrei (Stylist), Camelia Negrea ( Hair) and  Andra Manea ( Makeup)…4 vital components to make a singer  look/feel her best.

4)     Marcomms (Marketing Communications), Managing media/Social media initiatives.

I can’t possibly list all the things they have done in this area however Social media played an important role:

Facebook: 4,005,257 fans or more fans that Gwen Stefani, Nicole Scherzinger and Nelly Furtado. Lucian through his PC skills has mastered the FB Page.

Twitter: Inna does her own Twitter message – clear enough!

As a result fans have created a multitude of FB pages and Twitter address with the name INNA.

Youtube: As you would expect this has been a critical element for a music artist. Lucian would upload all kinds of Inna video moments as well as teasers of songs, albums as well as really cool moments arriving in new countries. Her first song  ‘Hot’  has in excess of 110 Million views on YouTube.

Now I’ll be the first one to say to ‘don’t bet all your horses ‘on social media (SM). Classic media like print is also responsible for Inna’s popularity. In her case getting two covers in FHM magazines led her to other significant covers such as Elle, Viva and Forbes magazines.

SM + Classic Marcomms led to endorsements with Microsoft and Pepsi. My suggestion is to really look at this artist as a possible endorser for your products/services.

I will skip New Product Development (NPD) and go straight to pride…my favorite topic.

When Inna lands in a new country she says 2 things:

1)     My name is Inna and,

2)     I’m Romanian

Not to make this a political tangent but I want to reach out to my fellow Romanians. It is clear to me that Romanians have this ‘thing’ about being assertive (or lack) about their nationality.

Ok Romania has had bad press in the past in other countries as well as its nomadic people. I am the first to say: So what?

As a proud Canadian we also have issues as a nation.

When I speak to investors I tell them about the abundant IT talent in Romania, English skills, tireless and diligent Romanian employees not to mention EU status and funding opportunities Having lived in 9 countries, I see Romania’s huge talent.

Back to Inna and my message. Like Inna,  ‘Be a proud Romanian’ and that enthusiasm and pride will become contagious. Inna has diligently used this in her favor.

Pride is the key word here.

Still not convinced? Check out this Youtube video: and help me understand this question:

How can a Romanian have so much influence and reverence in a country like Mexico – a country that still had not commercially sold her songs until the time she landed for the first time?

I have had the pleasure of working with Inna’s management recently and what I discovered was truly amazing.

When you combine talent, energy, the right people, the right Marcomms, NPD, a bit of luck and lot of pride any Romanian brand can compete globally…just ask Inna!


  1. Mbconsulting January 5, 2012at15:42

    Well, wonderful to read such great words about a Romanian singer and her team and also about Romanians.

    But, because there is a but, but INNA is not so popular in Romania. I have some explanations about this, but… ( too many but-s, and I am stopping here).

    I may add only that INNA is a good start!

    Thank again you for your article and appreciations.

    1. Paul January 6, 2012at08:38

      Glad you enjoyed the post!


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