Creating a Brand for International Audiences
If you own a company that’s looking to do business in multiple parts of the world, creating a brand that appeals to a diverse audience should be a pivotal part of your marketing and brand strategy. In fact, creating international brand strategies for global market consideration can be vital in the success or failure of your brand in new overseas markets. In most cases, brands are either designed for international consumers from the beginning or existing brands are refurbished, or even re-branded, to make them more appealing to audiences around the world.
Either way, creating a brand for international audiences goes beyond language, tradition, and nationality. It’s about creating something that resonates with people on a rudimentary level.
Brand positioning and strategy are key components in deciding not only what your brand is, but who it is for. Some more clearly local businesses will not have as pressing a need to consider branding beyond their local audience (but do consider the potential geographical limitations of your brand name/brand approach if you do choose to expand in the future.) but many businesses will look to sell their products and services to a diverse, international, multi-cultural and multilingual audience.
It pays then to really understand both your brand and your customer when considering your brand approach and strategy. It is wise not to simply go gung-ho into an unknown, international market before establishing whether your current brand requires tweaking, or even re-branding for the new market.
Stringing Ideas across Languages
Your brand might be successful in your local or national market but that success does not immediately translate overseas. After scoping out the new market, researching your target audience, assessing competitors and reviewing your existing brand you need to decided whether the current look, name and messaging of the brand is right for the international market you are entering. If it isn’t then a brand re-design/rebranding may well be required.
Before you can design a brand for international audiences, you need to whittle down your ideas until you get at the core of what you want to say. Hopefully, you can convey your message with just a few thoughtfully chosen words. That message should relate to our most basic desires as human beings, something that carries just as much cultural and economic weight in one country as it does in another. Ask yourself what do these different audiences have in common? Focus on their similarities when drafting the ideas and the message behind your new or amended brand.
Brand messaging is a key factor that cannot ever be overlooked when crafting your brand strategy. Even if your company name is altered across different countries you brand’s message, it’s ethos and its soul must be steadfast. People travel, people share – if your brand is not as connected with its audience or as strong in its message in other languages and territories it will damage your brand as a whole.
By taking your core brand values and translating that to the needs of the local audience or by considering the needs of a wider audience you can better position your brand and be more agile in numerous marketplaces.
Visualizing the Needs of Your Audience
For many brands who appear in multiple locations it is the overall imagery of the brand that can help connect a company to its audience, sub-divisions of a brand to the main brand and knit a brand’s message into the very fabric of a company before words come into play.
This is because images are instantly translatable for audiences around the world. It doesn’t matter what their background is or what language they speak, everyone can extract some meaning from a logo or an image. The crux of your message needs to be conveyed through symbols, images, and the art of visual design. Strip your marketing campaign of words and context and think about what kind of message your business is left with and whether this will resonate with your target audience.
Brand imagery comes both in the form of your brand logo as well as the other brand visuals and images that you will convey from advertisements, icons, shared social images, brochure images and layouts etc. There simply must be a cohesive synergy between your brand’s message and its visual identity across every channel including Social Media where many brands, large and small, let themselves down. Adhering to strict brand messaging principles is vital, especially when growing your business and moving into multiple territories.
If you are not sure how to establish your brand’s visual identity or to create a visual marketing campaign for international audiences or are unsure whether your current branding and logo are right for the new marketplace and audience the best place to start is with that brand message. Think of those same ideas that were used to create your brand in the first place. What were its aims? What was its vision? Bringing your brand back to basics as it were will ensure that you are able to target exactly the key brand elements needed to capture your new international audience and get your new brand visuals right.
A good way to start is with the emotion or desire that you want to bring out in the viewer. From logo design to UX layout the right shade of a certain color or the curve of a line has the power to send a clear signal to audiences around the world. Simplify your ideas and turn them into visually striking imagery with a clear, universal message.
If you are retaining the same overall branding as before does it make sense to the new audience? Do they ‘get’ the message? If not, then it might be wise to keep the product but change the branding. It doesn’t hurt to tailor branded ad campaigns for your new audience either – many successful brands from Coca-Cola to McDonalds to Nike and Google change their look (but not their feel) to suit the local audience.
Changing a brand in this manner is often met with hesitance (or plain derision in some circumstances) but a simple way to think about it is that they (the local audience) were there first, it is you (the brand) who should tailor and adapt to them, not the other way around.
Adapting your brand visuals, including ad campaigns and Social Media channels to suit the local audience while still retaining the feel and message of your brand is a great way to show that you are serious about the new market territory.
Avoiding Culturally Insensitive Language
There’s a lot of research involved in preparing a brand for overseas markets. Cultural differences can be a minefield for certain brands and companies. The wrong word or symbol could send shockwaves through the local community or at least give them a good laugh at your expense. If you think that you have the right marketing strategy in place, make sure that you’ve combed through every aspect of what makes your target audience tick. Hosting a focus group from the country in question or hiring an expert translator are two strategies that you can use to avoid a potential disaster. Building a brand overseas is all about reputation, which can be made or broken before you even start. The last thing that you want to do is stir up controversy or offend your target audience before your brand even has a chance to become established in the market.
When in doubt, use a professional branding agency to do some of the heavy lifting for you. Branding agencies with international clientele have the experience to give your company the facelift it needs to succeed abroad and ensure that your brand has the tools, look, message and feel it needs to appeal to a target audience wherever in the world your brand goes.
Tags: Brand design, Brand Messaging, Brand Strategy