Marketing in general is an extremely challenging practice. Virtually every niche is saturated with competitors vying for consumer attention and dollars.
To successfully have your brand’s voice heard, one must develop the right marketing messages, craft compelling and useful content, build a highly-active and engaged social following, and deploy modern marketing tactics that are capable of driving results.
When a brand makes the move to expand its horizons and enter the global marketplace, those challenges become exponentially more complex and strenuous.
Localising content, products, and brand presence requires a keen attention to detail in regards to cultural nuances, habits, restrictions, and relationships.
The ultimate goal is for materials to be so effectively localised that consumers feel as if the company is actually based in their region. This, however, is far easier said than done.
For example, when the Nestlé-owned baby food manufacturer Gerber entered the African market, the company elected to use the same imagery as it does in the U.S.
Their label, which features a baby, did not go over so well in Africa as many of its residents cannot read. Because of this, their consumers are used to package images depicting what is contained inside the package. In this case, a baby wasn’t accurate, understood, or well received.
All companies – small and large – are susceptible to this kind of blunder; that’s why we’ve compiled these 5 brand necessities for going international.
1: Begin with a Brief
At the beginning of your campaign assembly, it is vital to construct a brief which details the goals of the foray, who the target audience is and their defining attributes, and the tone and characteristics of the marketing materials that will be deployed.
Additionally, the brief should include information on the territories your brand aims to target, the languages in which materials will be translated, and which marketing channels will be leveraged.
This document will serve as a means to record the campaign’s requirements as well as an information delivery system to integrate other parties and providers into the fold in expedient fashion.
All of the outlined materials in the brief should be backed by extensive research and data, otherwise, your campaign is in jeopardy.
2: Study Cultural Specifics
Understanding cultural differences is absolutely critical to a successful campaign as each region has its own specific challenges, colloquialisms, and lifestyle habits. Even the largest brands can fail overseas if they do not delve deeply into cultural norms.
Soda giant Pepsi is one such brand. The company actually lost its lead in the South East Asian market when it changed its vending machines from deep blue to light blue. Pepsi was unaware that light blue correlates with death and mourning in the area, and they caused serious damage to their brand image with this small but impactful shift.
For this reason, cultural awareness needs to permeate through every single aspect of a campaign; from labels to messages, even down to the brand name itself. Everything must be analysed to ensure success in a new region.
Gerber is again a prime example as its brand name translates to “vomit” in French. Considering its consistency, that likely wouldn’t go over well in France.
Colloquialisms and translations aside, brands also need to gain a deep understanding of a culture’s societal values to better understand appropriate behaviour and messages, an understanding of regional symbols, along with other entrenching aspects like weather patterns, geographic challenges, political tensions, international relations, and basically anything else that can be unearthed.
For this kind of intimate research, it is best to develop a contact within your niche that is extremely well-versed on the culture, if not a native.
3: Intent is Everything
Over 72% of consumers are more likely to buy a product if advertising is in their native language. This makes proper translation critical.
Translation alone is not enough. Brands must transcreate their materials, meaning that content is translated while still retaining its intent, tone, style, and context.
This is much more challenging than it sounds as each region of the globe may have similar sayings that reflect completely different meanings. For example, The United States and Britain both speak English, however, terms like “trainer” and “braces” mean wildly different things.
Now imagine simply trying to translate an English saying into Portuguese or Arabic; things can easily come off wrong or nonsensical.
If you really want to capture that 72% of consumers, you need to sound like a local, not Google Translate.
4: Research Top Marketing Channels
It should go without saying that using the same channels of advertisement overseas may not fare as well as it does in your native marketplace.
Many regions around the globe have significant marketing disparities in the physical and digital landscape.
In today’s world, social media is one of the most meaningful marketing channels available and is a massive driver of sales, awareness, and other goals.
If your company seeks to expand its presence to China, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised to know that social networks like Facebook and Twitter are banned there; its citizens use sites like Weibo instead.
The same thing goes for search engines. Google is not dominant in all parts of the world. This means that businesses need to optimise for engines like Russia’s Yandex if they hope to be found.
5: Work with Trusted Experts
All of these obstacles can feel overwhelming if you have no connection to the region you hope to reach. This makes it a critical necessity to hire a transcreation and localisation team to help ensure that your messaging, logos, content, and all other materials are up to par for regional markets.
When shopping for such a service, be sure to take into consideration which languages the company is capable of converting, its current track record of successes/failures, its experience within your specific industry, and the types of services it is able to offer to your brand. Ideally, the selected team should be able to transcreate marketing copy, video content, and audio formats such as podcasts.
Crossing over into other regions of the globe and achieving financial success is no walk in the park. It takes a lot of research, planning, and partnerships to develop a campaign that will resonate with global audiences. But if you want to go big, global is the only option.