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Steffan Heuer is one of those gifted individuals that can speak multiple languages – but he doesn’t just “get by” like I do when I try out my rusty German.   He actually writes for leading German and international publications like The Economist, Technology Review and others,  and can eloquently describe the nuances of everything from a corporate restructuring to the mechanics of a new startup.

In his recent column for Brand Eins, he explored the meaning of “Made in Germany” and decided to carry on the exploration in his blog.  He’s spoken to futurist Paul Saffo, head of GuideWire Group Mike Sigal, and others about their own personal take on the “Made in Germany” nomenclature.  You can see my thoughts on this at Steffan’s blog here:  The DNA of “Made in Germany,” Part 5, Kathy Johnson’s take

An excerpt follows, where I talk about how “Made in Germany” is indelibly linked to your thoughts on the brand of Germany:

“Consumers around the world know more about nation branding than they imagine, as they can define a nation in one word – the essence of the brand: Italy = sexy, France = luxury, USA = commercialism, Switzerland = precision, Japan = technology, Britain = heritage, Germany = engineering. We can also extend this same exercise to thinking of companies that personify the brand of a nation: Italy = Gucci, France = Chanel, USA = McDonald’s, Switzerland = Rolex, Japan = Sony, Britain = Burberry, Germany = Mercedes.

If we take this exercise one step further, then we could also make a generalization that the brand Mercedes is a shorthand example of what “Made in Germany” means. But what happens when this brand-informed image faces change or challenge? Mercedes got bought by Daimler (with a less recognizable household name), and the global economy slipped into crisis and faces increasing uncertainty and volatility. This is especially evident in the auto industry, where even stalwart Daimler has recently forecast a full year loss in 2009.

Does that mean that “Made in Germany” will absorb the same negativity and challenge? Should we look to other brands to personify the “Made in Germany” nomenclature – perhaps something other than an auto manufacturer? How about a solar energy company? Or a biotech manufacturer? Or a pharmaceutical company?”