Language + localization

How to capture brand personality abroad

Taking your brand overseas can sometimes feel like a choice between protecting your unique brand voice or losing it in translation. However, with a bit of creativity, you can keep the essence of your brand while still entering new markets.

The trick to expanding globally is to capture your domestic brand personality in a way that’s locally relevant and engaging.

To adapt content to the target audience, get to the heart of what your brand is trying to say. You can do this by establishing your brand truths, values and underlying brand ‘story.’ Then consider the nuances that should be emphasized or toned down, based on the local market. Translating source language is rarely enough for branded content. You need to go beyond the actual words and consider their meaning and overall impact at the local level.

UNDERSTANDING THE LOCAL LANDSCAPE

When considering how to adapt your content for foreign markets, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1) Channel strategy

Understanding how each market interacts with your brand, and what channels they use, will dictate how you express your brand overseas. Take Chinese millennials, for example, increasing numbers of whom are traveling the world and consuming foreign media. China is a truly mobile-first country. These two factors combined have contributed to the growth of “zhai” (homebody) culture, where the external world is experienced vicariously through mobile phones and online consumption.

To take advantage of this and increase brand awareness, your brand heritage should be leveraged through social media channels in a gaming, interactive manner. This allows you to explain where your products come from, your production journey and what your brand represents in your home culture, all while keeping local consumers engaged and entertained.

For example, Hugo Boss built an interactive gift-hunting game on WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform with growing popularity among luxury brands for its social selling reach. Players had to find the four parts of a new character named “Bossbot” in its virtual store to finish the game, which then directed them to a landing page with product information, pricing and styling tips, as well as a link to the eCommerce site. This approach appealed to the preferences of Chinese consumers, enabling them to engage with the brand, increasing their exposure to the new range of Hugo Boss products.

2) Cultural differences

Understanding the cultural characteristics of your target market is essential for how you adapt your brand for maximum local engagement.

For example, Russian consumers don’t typically engage with American brands. And Japanese shoppers are rather cautious and will do more pre-purchase research before they trust a brand and its products. British consumers enjoy witty humor when it comes to connecting with a brand, whereas a German audience prefers modest and direct language.

To get the most out of your target markets, it’s important to recognize differences in consumer behavior and adjust to local market preferences. Otherwise, you could risk being misunderstood or rejected.

TOOLS

Once you’ve defined how you want to project your brand to the target market, it’s important to adopt the right toolset to ensure consistent application of your brand personality. These tools will help you define your localized tone-of-voice, define key branded terms and ensure consistency across all content types to maximize brand experience, while saving you time and money.

CAPTURING YOUR PERSONALITY

While tools help to develop your brand personality abroad, copywriters and linguists must be able to tell your story in a locally authentic and engaging manner.

It’s important to select professional in-country linguists who are familiar with your brand, as well as the nature and goals of the content they’re working on. As a result, your in-country teams will have the right tone, industry experience and content-marketing capability. This might mean having different teams for different types of content, depending on your content portfolio. With the right partner, this can be achieved without breaking your budget, and the results will speak for themselves.

FINAL THOUGHT

While the creative side of defining your brand personality abroad is important, it’s also key to prioritize regular content maintenance and governance to ensure cost- and quality-efficient content localization.

Quarterly content audits can be helpful to ensure that target brand personalities for each market are being accurately portrayed across all markets and channels. Similarly, content maintenance tools, such as translation memories and glossaries, can be useful. They will give you the confidence and data to know that markets are effectively using the localized tools, processes and human talent available to them.