Brand Internationalization Strategy for Small and Mid-sized Companies

Taken from:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Brand-Internationalization-Strategy-for-Small-and-Mid-Sized-Companies&id=7269280

I know I shouldn’t, but I’m going to. After all, I’m a rebel. If you follow the literature on social media, you’ll see that most experts recommend starting online articles with a personal story. But I’m not going to. To be honest, I wracked my brain for a personal story on brand internationalization and finished the day with a blank page. Surprising, right? So, I thought to myself, “Why don’t you just fabricate a story?” And I did. Boy, did it sound disingenuous. Instead, I’m going to approach the subject of brand internationalization from the orientations that I feel most comfortable with, fairy tales and sociology.

A Long, Long Time Ago in a Kingdom, Far, Far Away…

There lived a sociologist, Emile Durkheim, who coined the term “collective consciousness”. Without bombarding you with technical mumbo-jumbo (mumbo-jumbo, being the technical term for boring filler), I’ll skip to the point.

Emile Durkheim suggested that societies are bound together by shared beliefs, values, and attitudes. This was characteristic of groups of people living within a limited proximity. When he coined the term at the end of the 19th century, Durkheim was mainly looking at the beginnings of industrial society, a far cry from the social arrangements that characterize the 2000s.

The Goose That Laid the Global Egg

The internet has blurred borders, both physical and cultural. We live in a global society but because of the spread of information, Durkheim’s perspective still rings true. There are some basic ideas and attitudes that are universal. These universals have become central in brand internationalization.

Enter, the Big Brand Wolf

big brand wolf
He’ll Huff and He’ll Puff and He’ll GROOOOOW Your Brand

Small and mid-sized organizations that haven’t taken steps to internationalize their brand are actually in a position to do so in a more effective way than organizations that have already built up a concrete brand image. You have the luxury of forethought.

Let me explain. There are two major schools of thought when it comes to internationalizing your brand. You can:

a) Re-brand in every market you enter

b) You can choose a universal appeal (remember the global collective conscious?) and make small tweaks in each locale.

Option (B) is cost-effective and efficient at creating a recognizable brand but it involves thinking ahead. You have to decide on a universal value or attitude on which to base your brand before you make your debut on the international stage.

The Seven Dwarves of International Branding

After reviewing your marketing demographics and finding your target market, you’ve got to think a little bit about what makes them tick on a personal level but think big picture. Do they value family? Friendship? Saving money? These are your universals. Your long-term branding strategy should be based on this. The seven dwarves will help you make the brand locally appealing.

Meet the seven dwarves of brand internationalization:

Disney got here first
…Disney got here before you did

Language – this is a given, all marketing material must be distributed in the language of the target market. ’nuff said.

Culture – Get a consultant! Some cultures consider some topics taboo, favor a particular selling environment, or aren’t buying what you’re selling (think winter hats in Morocco)

Graphics – feature local talent, use colors that represent your message (these change by region), and ensure translated text will fit in your logo.

Idioms – For an international message, stay away from English idioms. They don’t translate well.

Content flow – The often forgotten Dwarf. Your text layout should follow local customs.

Software/website – You need to localize your software and website. This means changing the date/time/currency formats/measurements, text field lengths for phone numbers and addresses, as well as everything else that has been mentioned.

Regulations – consult an expert on local regulations. Do they require a specific format on your product labels? Do they have different language and accessibility laws in place? All your work will be for not if you don’t meet local laws.

These points are critical in reaching your target market. You can use a generic marketing message but then you won’t be leveraging your communications.

Live Happily Ever After

Here are the takeaway points:

• Think globally and pick a universally appealing brand value or attitude

• Tweak your message according to cultural nuances and standards

• Avoid generic marketing messages when going international

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7269280

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Dogs, Widgets, and Internationalizing Your Brand

Advertising boils down to basic sociology. Of course there are external factors that can change the behavior of consumers, but at the core, society functions on the idea of shared meaning. Shared meaning, or consensus, is at the root of communication. For example, if I type the word dog, in most instances, everyone will picture the same thing.

Well, wait a second, if I said “dog” to a non-English speaker, would they picture the same thing? Perhaps not…but I’ll come back to this later because it’s important.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, shared meaning. I’ll give you another example. Carl Jung’s work centered on the idea of archetypes. Essentially, he spoke about universal symbols and experiences. These symbols and ideas are recognizable to most people.

They aren’t part of the Jungian archetypes, but I’ll give you an idea of some universal symbols and ideas. Ready? Here are a few to get you thinking: Family, friendship, love, sadness, good and evil, and life and death.

(You might be asking how this fits into brand internationalization. I’m getting there, I promise.)

Let’s revisit my point about the dog. The word “dog” might be meaningless to a non-English speaker but most people would recognize a dog if they saw one. The qualities attributed to the dog might also be different. I think of loyalty, friendship, and family but you might think smelly, dirty, and unruly (my dog storm is a combination of all of those). So depending on your perspective, a dog might mean different things.

The Point

You have two options when internationalizing your brand. You can either create a new brand image in every market OR you can create an international brand identity and make small changes to your graphics, idioms, and language. The second option is not only more efficient at creating a strong brand but it’s also more cost-effective. You won’t have to re-brand in every market.

Basically, you need your brand to be based on a universal but make tweaks to the dog. Confused? Let me clear things up with an example:

Widgets and Doohickeys Canada wants to internationalize their brand. Looking at their sales demographics, they see that their widgets and doohickeys are bought by married couples with two or more children. Naturally, they decide to base their international brand image on the universal idea of family. So, they create their Canadian advertising. It shows a family skating together during a snowy Canadian winter.

The caption reads: “Keeping Families Warm When It’s Cold Outside”.

A great Canadian piece of adverting that absolutely won’t be effective in Puerto Rico.

Widgets and Doohickeys want to keep that “family” message; it symbolizes what their brand is all about. So, they make tweaks. They change the language, the graphic, and the idiomatic expression to suit the tastes of those in Puerto Rico and how they view family togetherness.

With this method, they are cultivating an international brand image using the universal notion of family but are making adjustments for cultural perceptions of what family means.

The Role of the Language Services Provider

Language Services Providers offer what is known as localization. We work with your universal appeal but target it to the tastes of different cultures. This might mean adjusting graphics to give it local appeal, changing colors to those that a culture associates with your main message, arranging typesetting and content flow to appeal to cultural standards, and translating your message to engage your target audience.

The goal is to maintain your global brand image while also carving a niche in a local market. Taking this approach ensures that you avoid a generic marketing message. This helps you leverage your communication efforts and differentiates your product from local offerings.

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