A few, well-known companies used to be the only leaders in “global brands”. But times have changed and new doors have opened for many small and mid-sized companies, giving them the ability to take their brand to a global playing field. The process of becoming a global brand doesn’t happen overnight, but success can be achieved with a thoughtful strategy, solid branding, and the understanding of global markets and cultures. The following sections will take a closer look at how to adjust the brand messaging, brand strategy, logos, trademarks, and websites for international markets, along with examining some of the ways companies can successfully build a global brand.
Research and Category Audit
Before deciding to take a brand global, an extensive amount of research is necessary to see what is required to build and maintain a global brand. First, make sure to set up meetings with wholesalers, retailers, attorneys, potential customers, and design agencies who can help bring the brand to the new market. It’s crucial to have a breadth of understanding of the local culture and competition, which is where completing a category audit will help with better understanding the market. What does the competition look like? What stands out among the competition, and what blends in? First, examine the competition’s branding, what colors and fonts do they use? Is there something that stands out? What blends in? Next, look at price point. Is the pricing comparable to the other products on the shelf? Is there a certain price range for the category? Finally look at the messaging of the competitors, in the category the product or service falls under. Is it witty and funny? Is it serious and aimed at health conscious people? While this is a smaller part of exporting, it will help to better position the new product or service in the market and help determine what direction to take with the branding.
Adjust The Brand Messaging
After researching the new market, and looking at the competition’s angle, strategic messaging will need to be created for the brand in order to translate globally. Who are the customers in the new market? What are their needs and wants? Does the product or service fill both? Thoughtfully craft the messaging to make sense for the new market. Culture plays a huge role in exporting. What is the local cuisine? What do the people there do for fun, how do they relax? Maybe as a culture, they don’t eat meat, or prefer tea to coffee. Make sure the messaging doesn’t contain words or graphics that might offend the new target market. Check that the messaging translates to the new market – it might mean something different in another culture! Airbnb does a great job with their messaging, and incorporating the culture of their different locations. They hire professionals to communicate the local story to help consumers experience the sense of community in each location.
Solidify The Brand Strategy
Think about the consumers needs, emotions, and the competition. What works in one country isn’t guaranteed to work in another. Successful global brands know this and make tweaks to their overall strategy, while staying consistent with their branding when entering into other markets. Let’s take a look at the strategy of some successful global brands, and how they accommodate for different global markets:
- Starbucks: No matter where you are in the world, you recognize the famous green siren of the Starbucks logo. You know when you see that you can get your tall, grande or venti coffee fix with whatever concoction you want. So how does Starbucks change for the different markets? Maximizing customer experience – putting much thought in the way they design their stores. Each one is meant to to feel like a local coffee shop, with elements pulled in from each location. By offering more non-coffee drinks in China, they were able to tap into the culture, making Starbucks a success in the country.
(Image Credit: Labbrand.com)
- Coca Cola: We can’t talk about global brands without mentioning Coca Cola! Since 1886, this mega brand captivates consumers with their bold red, and simple and classic look. What makes them a successful global brand? No matter what country Coca Cola is in, they keep the messaging happy, authentic, and positive – encouraging people to #ShareACoke and #TasteTheFeeling wherever life takes them.
(Image Credit: Gafollowers.com)
- McDonalds: Love it or hate it, McDonald’s has built a thriving global brand. How? They keep their brand consistent across the globe, however reduce their portion sizes and add items to the menu for suiting the respective country. By incorporating regional foods into their menu, they appeal to customers in the different markets. They keep their signature menu items, adjusting accordingly for seasonal items and particular tastes. Macarons were added to the menu in France. So jealous!
(Image Credit: Business Insider)
Does The Logo Translate?
In order to be a global brand, the logo needs to translate well in the desired region. Do thorough, international research to make sure it doesn’t contain any symbols or colors that are considered offensive in another country. Think about the name of the company and product, and the common language spoken. The name could be confusing or hard to pronounce, so make modifications for it to make sense. Taking a look at Airbnb again, they incorporate a bélo in their logo, which is a symbol of belonging no matter where you are. Once the logo and branding is “safe” for the new market, think about the packaging. The product or service being offered should stand out among the masses, not blend in. Think back to the target customer and if they would buy it based on what the packaging looks like. Be sure to check packaging laws and customs requirements, as they differ from country to country.
(Photo Credit: Airbnb)
Register Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights
Along with the exhilarating global branding, comes the equally important but less exciting part. The legal part. Read up on trademark, patent, and copyright laws in other countries. If the product or service was first trademarked in the United States, it won’t work in another country, and vice versa. Avoid this by finding out the trademark laws in the area that the product or service will be exported to. To protect the patent and trademark, consult with a local attorney who specializes in trademarks, and patents, and copyrights to make sure laws in the new market are being followed correctly and that the culture, and market are understood to avoid any potential legal trouble.
Website Domain and Translation
Website domains differ from country to country. Some countries use specific country codes, such as .nl for the Netherlands and .uk for England. Determine the website’s Internet domain name and the specific country codes that will need to be used. As discussed earlier, culture plays a major role in exporting. This goes hand in hand with the colors used on the website. For example, the color green is associated with spring and renewal in the United States, while in South Africa it is associated with death. Corporate brands have established colors, but if possible, adjust the colors to fit in line with the culture of each market. The website will need to be translated for the different languages of all the countries the product or service is being exported to. Viewers are more likely to engage with a website if it is in their native language, which is something a local agency can help with.
Exporting products or services into a new market will be a constantly evolving process. Remember, becoming a successful global brand doesn’t just happen overnight. Remain vigilant to the brand for ensuring that it’s living up to its promise and taking flight in another corner of the world!
Ready to take your brand into a new market? RDG would love to help with your brand strategy and design!