To build a global brand, you need to do more than just launch a website that can be accessed anywhere in the world or put up social media accounts that you think anyone can find. Launching your brand across borders takes work and an deep understanding of your customer base and cultural needs.
Understanding Customer Behavior
As with any form of branding, you need to understand your customers. This is paramount to building your brand, and you really can’t move forward and be successful without a very deep understanding of your target market. It’s the basis of all your messaging strategies.
In the book Global Brand Power, author Barbara E. Kahn cited Walmart’s mistake in building locations near industrial parks rather than suburbs. Culturally, consumers in China are used to shopping closer to home than their workplace.
To be a global force, you really need to understand your competitors on a deeper level and understand the differences between brands. Who are your competitors in each country? Are they a global brand? What are the pros and cons of their branding strategy?
Know How Your Brand Translates
Nothing is more awkward than finding out your brand translates to a dirty word. When you’re going global, it’s a good idea to consult native speakers who will understand the nuances you’re trying to portray.
Some awkward global branding blunders include:
- Clairol’s “Mist Stick” curling iron translating to manure in Germany
- Mercedes-Benz selling in China under the name “Bensi” which translates to “rush to die”
- Gerber selling baby food with a picture of a baby on the label in some African countries where most products have a picture on the label of what’s inside due to high levels of illiteracy
- Colgate’s “Cue” toothpaste also being the name of a pornographic magazine in France
- Coors’ slogan “Turn it Loose” being a Spanish euphemism for diarrhea
You don’t want your company to be on this list of unfortunate incidents.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Dunkin Donuts is a great example of playing to a global market well. With stores in over 30 countries, Dunkin Donuts has met their diversified audience’s sweet tooth. In America, you can get the cult classic Boston creme and Chinese customers can order a fresh batch of dry pork and seaweed donuts, while Korean audiences can order a delicious grapefruit coolatta.
Don’t forget Russia’s dunclairs and Lebanons’s mango chocolate donut! Dunkin Donuts openly celebrates cultural differences in tastes and uses that to strengthen their international brand.
Tackling the global market takes a steady hand and a deep understanding of cultures around the world to keep from making avoidable blunders. While, to some small degree, the widespread availability of the Internet has made it possible for all brands to become global, the Internet does not guarantee your brand will be able to go global. You need a strong core message and brand strategy to really become a global force.
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