It’s 2023, which means your brand and your products can reach further than ever before. Targeting new markets and expanding in existing ones makes sense for global brands. How can you stay true to your brand’s core values, look and feel while staying relevant to your in-country audience?
WHY GLOBAL BRANDING?
When you think of a ‘global’ brand, the big names of the last few decades will most likely come to mind. Think Amazon, Meta, Apple. But in reality, any brand can successfully go global with strategic thinking and a solid global brand strategy.
International consumers use an average of 7.5 social media platforms daily and make an estimated 20.8% of retail purchases online. As social media and internet usage shrink borders and draw the world closer than ever before, global brands have more opportunities to maximize their presence in existing markets and drive global growth.
Global branding is, at its core, about making sure you fortify your brand with the necessary tools to thrive in international markets. And to do that, you’ll need to focus on being globally consistent while remaining locally relevant.
THE 60/40 RULE
Successful global brands have a clear positioning that makes them stand out – and a clear look and feel that’s easily recognizable. These brands know how to adapt, adding just the right amount of local flavour to resonate with their target audiences in each market.
A good global brand management strategy is to follow the 60/40 rule. Keep 60% consistency globally, and allow 40% to be adaptable for local markets.
This means knowing your brand’s core values and key design elements so that you can stay true to what matters most for your brand globally (the 60%) while meeting audiences on their level through adapted imagery, messaging and local relevance (the 40%).
GO GLOBAL, THINK LOCAL
Adapting your brand for global audiences is no small task. Some companies attempt a method of little change, simply translating materials, overlooking visual elements and hoping their brand image will resonate abroad.
But this can be problematic, especially if brand elements – like certain colours, symbols, or images – don’t carry the same meaning among international audiences.
On the other hand, changing your branding materials significantly for each new market is a huge drain on resources, budget and time. Before you know it, you’re diluting your brand and veering away from your core values and image. When launching any global branding efforts, consider the following:
KNOW THE NON-NEGOTIABLES
It’s crucial to be clear on a brand’s non-negotiables. These elements are central to your core values and company vision. Adapting them would have a significant impact on brand perception. These core elements can include:
- The problem a brand solves for its core audience
- Mission, vision, and purpose
- Brand look and feel
- Logo and logo variations
- Intended tone – serious, playful, funny, etc
HONE IN ON ADAPTABLE ELEMENTS
Once non-negotiables are established, you can then work to identify branding elements that are adaptable for global audiences. What works in one country won’t necessarily resonate in another.
The goal is to give your target audience something that looks like it was created just for them in their language, which will set you apart from your competitors in that country while remaining true to your brand.
There are a number of elements to consider when adapting your brand for global audiences. Here are three of them:
Tone of voice is a key for your global brand. But the nuances of tone can be adapted. What the French find funny might offend someone in the UK. And British humour might fall flat in front of a US audience. Working with in-market cultural experts is key to hitting the right note when it comes to tone of voice.
Take Italian designer, Ermenegildo Zegna. Wittiness was an important part of their brand voice, but they weren’t sure how to translate that into other markets.
We worked with the brand to identify the types of wit their target audiences would appreciate. Then, we reworked their global English tone of voice guidelines with market-specific advice and examples to ensure their witty tone came through in every language.
IMAGERY AND DESIGN
These features are often overlooked and can significantly hinder connection to your audience.
For example, choosing colours that have the desired effect or connotation in your target culture could be the difference between connecting with or alienating your audience. Similarly, adjusting a graphic element, say, from a coffee cup to a dallah, can go a long way in connecting to an Arabic-speaking locale.
Working with creative media localization experts can help you avoid missteps and help you assess and adapt the level of creative media localization you need for your assets.
YOUR COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
You may have established a brand presence with a logo that’s easily recognizable in your existing markets – but that may not be the case for your new global audiences.
Messaging should be modified to reflect the level of brand awareness in each region. You could be aiming to build brand recognition or foster an emotional connection. Or, give your audience a reason to believe in you.
If you’re not already familiar with an audience, you may want to focus your communication strategy around brand awareness and ‘introducing’ yourself to a new market. This would involve more of a brand-building approach – potentially with paid ads or promotions.
If you are known, but not well-established, you may want to increase loyalty and up conversions. You still want to boost awareness, but because they already know you, this is about getting them to love you.
And, lastly, if you’re well-established, you could pinpoint your efforts towards building community and customer advocacy. This can be done through effective community management both online and offline and engaging with your customers in a way that is authentic – specifically in their language.
The approach you take will depend on your in-country audience’s familiarity (or lack thereof) with your brand.
GLOBAL BRANDING SERVICE MENU MUST-HAVES
Before you start to work on optimizing your global branding strategy, think about which services you need so you can maximize your budget – and results. Some things to consider:
TONE OF VOICE GUIDES
A global tone of voice guide is a powerful tool for anyone working on your content, whether they’re in-country copywriters, local stakeholders, or partner agencies. Including before and after examples of copy, as well as practical tips for tone on different channels, will help keep your brand consistent across regions and markets.
As with tone of voice, strong and consistent visual guidelines help your brand’s identity as you grow in existing markets or expand into new ones. As well as your colours, typography and image style, global visual guidelines will help designers create on-brand, engaging and culturally relevant content for your audiences.
The language your brand uses that’s specific to your company, products, or services matters. It’s what makes you stand out from your competitors in each market.
Consistent taglines, product names, and key terms across all your brand assets are key elements to build up brand recognition. A glossary of terms will keep your language consistent, ensuring your brand terms remain clear in every iteration, in every country.
Translation memories (TMs) ensure consistency at the sentence level – and maximize savings. These databases are where your localized text lives, and they mean you can reuse previously approved localized content.
Bonus points if you find a localization partner skilled at maximizing a TM’s capability for creative marketing content by parsing at the paragraph level. Using TMs this way will save budget in the long run while allowing your marketing copy to be consistent where needed – and creatively adapted for maximum local impact.
Combined, these tools ensure that your marketing localization efforts are thorough without being redundant, saving you budget (and time) down the road.
Building a global brand takes time. And to drive success you need investment – particularly with in-country brand experts and who know how to hit the right note abroad.
The right partner will help you identify similarities between markets. They’ll enable you to confidently adapt for differences while preserving the uniqueness of your brand both domestically and internationally. And, ultimately, you’ll be making the most of the marketing budgets available.
- 4 Essentials For Successful Website Localization - August 10, 2023
- Google Analytics 4: A Guide For Global Brands - August 4, 2023
- Global Branding that Resonates across Borders - August 2, 2023
- Why You Need International Keyword Research - July 5, 2023
- Understanding Your Global Target Markets - May 31, 2023
- 4 Tactics For Global LinkedIn Marketing Success - March 17, 2023
- Why You Need Social Media Optimization: Instagram - February 8, 2023