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(Editor’s note: Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24. He submitted this story to VentureBeat.)
With the online population growing at far greater speed in developing and emerging markets than in North America and Western Europe, the opportunities for businesses and brands to prosper on an international scale are vast.
So how can businesses build an accessible, global brand? The old adage ‘to go global you have to think local’ still rings true, but with the digital revolution in full swing, borders have become blurred and the need for a more unified ‘global’ brand that’s relevant everywhere becomes greater.
Today, the speed with which a brand message circulates around the Web is staggering. While the words and points of reference may need to be tweaked for each country and culture, the brand itself needs to adhere to a single philosophy regardless of location – a global brand.
Of course, creating a brand culture that translates effortlessly across all countries and cultures isn’t easy. Here are five ways to help accomplish that.
Global norming – The ‘globality’ of your brand starts with your initial planning sessions. ‘Global’ should be a key phrase that’s ingrained in your company’s culture from the beginning. The philosophy of your culture should also remain consistent, regardless of where you’re targeting.
Even if your initial start-up efforts are limited to domestic markets, you can still build towards the global arena by securing international domains to your company name in any market you anticipate entering.
Also, follow trends in other markets relating to your industry. If the markets align, you can be ready to pounce.
What’s in a brand name? – Your brand name is a vital part of your company – indeed, some would argue that it’s the most important thing. It’s what consumers identify with and grow to trust. Hence you need to think long and hard about what to call your company and, once you’ve reached a decision, stick with it.
The strongest global brands are ones that have the same name in each country: Nike, Coke, McDonald’s etc.
Ideally, the brand name you choose should be one that doesn’t require translation – in other words, one that’s simple, easy to pronounce and has no inherent meaning. So a made-up word or a compound word can be a good idea – such as Tesco or Pepsi.
However, if your brand name reflects a key benefit of your service, such as ‘Budget Car Rental’ then you may want to consider translating it for other markets, though multiple brand names will require more effort to manage.
Focus on similarities – Regardless of creed, color, gender or race, people are fundamentally the same. Sure, our culture, background and upbringing influence our outlook on life, but by focussing on people’s inherent similarities rather than their differences, you can build a unified, global brand identity.
Values such as happiness, peace, love and friendship are universal and by building such values into a brand, it becomes a lot more relevant globally.
McDonald’s did this with its very first global advertising campaign in 2003. Launched in Germany under the title ‘ich liebe es’, it has since taken the world by storm. You’ll probably know it as ‘I’m lovin’ it’. And even more recently, Coke launched a global advertising campaign based on the slogan ‘open happiness’.
Unified marketing – Start-ups may be a little intimidated by the very thought of ‘global’, especially when they feel like they’re still finding their feet domestically. But if you’re building a global brand, the time will come when you need to take a leap of faith and open your first international hub.
That hub may be a two-person office in China. And eventually that two-person hub might grow into six hubs spread across three continents. And this is where the company’s global culture will come into play.
Part of building a successful global brand involves the separate entities of a company working together as a unit. So while your marketing campaigns may be managed and launched locally, your various offices around the world will work together to ensure consistency across the board and across the brand.
Don’t forget about localization – Despite everything above about building a unified, global brand, the need to localize is still important. While your brand values and culture will be evident in all your markets, the actual words you use need to be different and it’s a simple fact that some concepts don’t translate between cultures.
You may need to consider transcreation, which is essentially copywriting in a foreign language. And the reason why it’s a viable alternative to simply hiring a copywriter for the target country, is because there is always a need to understand and appreciate the original message and how it reflects a company’s brand.
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