If you are in the position of being able to expand your business overseas, I’m sure you are celebrating your success thus far and rightly so. But, as your company becomes international, there are a new series of challenges that you need to be aware of, namely when it comes to global branding. How do you make sure the public perception of your company that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate on a local or even national level will both translate and stay strong overseas?
The challenges that come along with stretching your business into overseas markets are many. First of all, when building a brand for a number of different countries, you need to remember that the histories and especially the cultures for each of those countries are vastly different from each other. What is seen as helpful in one country might be seen as an imposition in another. Similarly, what one culture perceives as being funny, another might think rude.
You need to take that into account when you’re designing everything from your brand elements to your brand communications. Remember that while you have the flexibility to tweak your brand from country to country as you please, the strength and value of a brand comes from its consistency. The more changes you make to it, the more you devalue the brand in the long run.
When designing a strategy for global branding, the first thing you need to focus on – the thing that should be common in all countries – is the main benefit of your product to your customers. Whether they are Chinese, Kenyan, or Italian, what are your consumers going to get from purchasing your product? Here, remember to take into account the relevance of the benefits to the consumer. You don’t just want to harp on the product benefits, but instead look at how those benefits will affect your customers’ lives.
From there, you can move on to determining the features of your product that are the most unique and the most compelling. As a global company, chances are that your competitors will largely be the same in many different countries. So, what sets you apart from them? Why should customers, be they Asian or African or European, choose your company over Company X? That is the second key question you need to take into account in your planning process.
Finally, as your company enters the international market, you should think about positioning yourself as a global leader in your industry. With that kind of messaging, it doesn’t matter where your consumers find themselves; they are going to know that your company is better than the rest.
There is some flexibility in global branding. For instance, you should feel free to use local idioms or customs to communicate your message. You can tailor your message and make it unique for each of the local markets. The important thing, however, is that from Beijing to Nairobi to Lima, the message stays consistent throughout the world.