Global Branding – Taking Your Brand Abroad
Is your company or organization about to take the next step and leap into the global market? Do you already have existing outlets in other countries but lack a cohesive multi-lingual branding strategy?
Now is the time to get your company heads together and map out the most effective ways to maintain your brand image across multiple countries and cultures. How successful you are will be largely determined by how thoroughly you research and develop your branding and communication strategies.
What do you want to convey? What’s important?
Before you venture into the global market it is important to take stock of what makes your brand stand out. Is it the products themselves? The ethics and values of the company? The unique designs? The use of cutting edge technology or innovative approaches?
Once you have determined these factors, consider how they are portrayed to your customers. There are often many ways to convey these concepts with branding including the use of color and mood. For example a company selling organic or hand-made goods might use earthy colours in its literature and country scenes in its advertising.
When promoting your brand internationally, it is not necessary to reproduce every detail like a carbon copy. Sometimes it is better to make some adjustments that suit the local culture better and translate more smoothly. Be aware of the potential for insult or error with literal translations or the use of colors or symbols. Keep the essence of the brand but adapt it to each local environment. To keep everything looking like a recognizable brand, maintain consistency in design elements such as fonts, templates and formatting.
Who should be involved in branding decisions?
These are not matters to be decided on in a day. To globalize your brand you need the input of a number of internal and external parties. For example:
- Corporate heads in each country
- The design team
- The marketing team
- Production and distribution managers
- IT and software developers
- Other department heads to give different perspectives
- Professional translation and globalization consultants
By getting parties like these involved in the global branding process from the start your company will stand a much better chance of achieving a smooth implementation in your desired timeframe. Each party will know what their individual needs are and these can be analysed and incorporated as much as possible into the overall plan. For example, the design team would need to consider how the fonts used in different languages will affect the look of various documents and website pages. Logos that include text may look aesthetically appealing in English but not in German so they would need to decide whether to maintain the English version or create a new logo that is universally appealing.
Which factors and resources need to be reviewed for translation?
Every area of communication across the entire company will need to be reviewed to decide if translation is required.
All printed literature used for marketing, distribution, internal procedures and resources may have to be transcribed into several languages so that every customer and employee receives the same information. This also applies to all online text used in email templates, public and internal websites and social media posts.
Internal shared applications such as accounting systems, customer and other databases and production tracking systems will all need thorough analysis to ensure that local currencies, taxes, terminology and regional nuances are all taken into account and fully tested.
Multimedia resources and marketing campaigns are another area where careful translation is vital. TV advertisements that are funny in some countries could be quite offensive in others. Training videos that have incorrect subtitles or voice-overs could result in mistakes being made. These could potentially affect productivity, profits or even safety.
Once the areas to be translated have been chosen, organizations then need to decide how many languages to include and which ones to use. This would be determined by the regions they are targeting and the available budget and resources.
Who can do this?
Hiring local, crowdsourced translators and other skilled professionals managed by a specialized translation and branding management company often achieves the best results. The crowdsourcing concept involves outsourcing work to the global workforce ‘crowd’. Crowd members are generally freelancers who offer their services in their preferred areas. They post their profiles on websites that are similar to community notice boards but just in a virtual environment. Companies or individuals post their projects on these sites and the freelancers compete against each other and bid for the work.
Using freelancers saves time and money and allows existing employees to do their job without placing further stress on them. The freelancers are highly skilled and committed to top quality service and fast turn-around times. They also contribute fresh ideas and solutions. Many companies are increasingly finding that using a mix of crowdsourced and permanent employees to implement their global branding strategies gives the best overall results.
As only 20% of all internet users have English as their first language, organizations that have the most successful global expansion programs are the ones that have considered all potential users and developed strategies to communicate with them in their own language and cultural terms.
Contact us here at Lingua for your global Branding services.
It’s not that long ago that a shop owner was considered successful if they had 2 stores in the same town. Each would have had its own set of accounts and communication would have been through someone physically travelling between the stores. Some years later an entrepreneur may have had a small chain of stores in different towns or states. They would have relied on mail services, telegrams and their staff structure would often be duplicated in each store.
Over the last half century or so, big businesses generally needed large numbers of staff located in head offices. Keeping everybody centralized was essential to resource and communication management. Computer systems tended to be localized and their type and functions varied greatly. As technology developed it enabled people to communicate across borders and into remote areas but the core staff still needed to be based in head offices while communication was often restricted to one language.
What is crowdsourcing?
The word ‘crowdsourcing’ refers to the concept of outsourcing to a crowd of workers. Over the last decade, technology has advanced so much that businesses no longer need to have a large, permanent employee base. Instead they can access skilled freelance staff on a contract basis anytime of the day.
When individuals or companies have a project that is too big or specialized to handle themselves they can draw on a pool of freelancers who are trained in the required areas. This pool is known as the ‘crowd’.
Who uses it?
The crowdsourcing approach is already being used by companies across many industries. Software companies can call on developers to help test their latest mobile apps in different areas for functionality, start up companies can seek help for logo design, and retailers can use administrative specialists to manage their customer databases.
How does it work?
Employers list their projects on sites such as Freelancer, Flightfox or Kaggle. The freelancers upload their skills profiles, sample portfolios and any relevant personal information to these sites.
Freelancers are invited to bid for projects and the successful ones are chosen based on factors such as cost, turn-around time and past experience. Parties communicate and share data via uploads to a common website. For example, a medical clinic may need an interpreter to help a doctor explain a procedure to a Spanish patient. They can go online and find an interpreter and involve them in the conversation within minutes via video link.
Some crowdsourcing sites are industry specific. Flightfox, for example, gets travel agents around the world to compete against each other to come up with the most practical and cost-effective itineraries for personal and corporate travellers.
Kaggle lists freelancers who are specialists in solving data science or energy resource problems. Freelancer lists over 14 million users working on nearly 7 million projects including software development, website design, social media marketing and ghost writing for e-book publishers.
While some projects can be extremely complex and take many months, others are very simple but just time-consuming. These are known as microtasks. For example, a nutrition company may want a new recipe section on its website. Instead of getting one person to produce hundreds of recipes, they could pay hundreds of freelancers a small amount per recipe uploaded to the site.
Why are more and more companies turning to it?
The benefits of this approach are multi-fold.
- They can draw on many experienced minds. This generates a huge range of possible ideas and approaches.
- Tasks get completed more quickly as the freelancers can work simultaneously and are conscious of fast deadlines.
- They save money on permanent wages and can hire people as required. The freelancers often don’t even need to be in the same country.
- They can work from home and choose their own hours.
- Age and location are no barriers to their employability. As long as they have a computer of some sort with quality internet access they can get regular work.
- They can promote their unique skills and experience and work in their chosen industries.
The way of the future
As we move towards a more global economy more companies will engage in crowdsourcing to grow their business. So now instead of being limited to one town, they can operate anywhere in the world 24 hours a day.
While the crowdsourcing model is certainly here to stay, it won’t replace all internal employees. Instead new business structures will likely include a hybrid of the two systems. Internal employees are still vital as they hold a detailed knowledge of the company culture, systems, history and future goals. Freelancers bring in fresh perspectives, inspiration and solutions.
Crowdsourcing could be used in the initial stages of a project to generate ideas which could then be researched and analysed by the existing employees. The final stages could then be presented back to the crowd for testing and market research.
When we look back and see how business models have evolved over the last few hundred years and especially over the last few decades it is very exciting to think of the possibilities that are just waiting for us around the corner.
Global marketing campaigns are becoming increasingly focused on catering for the ‘instant’ society and also on being locally relevant. As consumers turn to the latest digital platforms and devices for communication and transactions the successful marketing campaigners are those that constantly stay one step ahead.
The target market
Instead of an outdated ‘one size fits all’ approach, organizations are now customizing their strategies to suit local cultures and trends. They seek to engage with consumers at an emotional level and to interact with them as much as possible. To do so, they study the demographics of the communities they are venturing into to learn what drives them. What are the prevalent cultural influences? What do they value? How do they spend their time at work and home? Time spent on market research prior to releasing a product or service is seldom wasted.
If the organization is expanding into multiple countries or regions they need to research each one separately as the findings can vary greatly. For example, car manufacturer might focus on building smaller hybrid cars for the Japanese market and SUV’s for regional areas of larger western countries. They would look at the distance travelled each day, the number of passengers and even colour preferences for the paintwork. They would also need to consider if the product is already universal or if it will need some modifications for each market. Again cars are a good example as they may need to be released in both left hand and right hand drives and also automatic or manual models.
The economic situation in each region is another factor that needs to be carefully analysed at a very early stage. Knowing what the average income is and how much people would be prepared to spend on a new product or service is critical as judgement errors could result in millions of dollars being lost. Even in regions where personal wealth is quite comfortable companies shouldn’t necessarily set their prices too high. Lower prices that still have a sound profit margin can often generate a greater turn-over rate and ultimately higher profits.
Communication and engagement
Once companies have identified their target markets they need to establish the most effective methods to communicate with them. In this era, information comes from all angles: TV, radio, print media, websites, emails, social media, mobile apps and more. Not only do they need to utilize multiple platforms but also multiple languages. It isn’t possible to offer translation into every language across all platforms so deep consideration needs to be given to which languages to use and in which platforms. Again, this comes back to knowing exactly who the target demographic is in each region and what forms of marketing they respond to.
Look at any international sporting event or technology launch to see how many different marketing techniques have been utilized. They are increasingly seeking ways to engage with the fans or users. For example, the Grand Slam tennis events are advertised for months in the traditional media. They all have websites and mobile apps giving up to date player profiles, news and scores. Over the last few years they have also introduced social media channels where viewers can add comments, enter competitions and chat to the players. Of course the online platforms all have very prominent merchandizing ads and links to sponsors websites.
Calling in the professionals
Many companies recognize their strengths lie supplying their products and services and not necessarily in promoting them, especially to a multi-lingual market. The smart ones call in professional global marketing operators who can then oversee all aspects of the campaign including:
- Designing, translating and publishing promotional literature and internal documents
- Ensuring all website content is fully translated including captions and videos
- Ensuring that translations are culturally appropriate
- Hiring professionals who are not only experts in their field but who also understand local contexts and terminology.
Outsourcing these aspects of a global marketing campaign means that the existing employees are able to pursue their own responsibilities with greater focus and less stress. If companies chose to use their existing staff for the marketing roles they would likely find a reduction in performance and completion time. Or if they hired staff for the campaigns, they would also have to pay additional taxes, superannuation and the like. So bringing in professionals for the duration of the campaign saves time, cuts costs and increases all-round performance. Many companies use a mix of permanent and freelance staff to work together throughout the global campaign. This means that they draw on the fresh ideas and inspiration from the freelancers and also the years of local and industry knowledge held by their existing staff.
The organizations that don’t actively seek to implement new business models and simply use blanket strategies are those that will slowly fade into the background. Those that ‘know’ their consumers and seek to engage with them as much as possible are the ones who will lead the way into the new global economy.