It is little wonder that you see people throw tomatoes at each other in Spain every August. Korean and Japanese would bluntly ask about your age during a normal conversation, while Nicaraguans would use their lips to describe a direction to you. Globalization has brought the world closer and burst the physical boundaries, yet it could not erase the cultural differences or social dissimilarities. Although global business expansion has never been easier, this unprecedented ease comes with a myriad of major challenges.
Tapping into new markets means that your brand will be addressing a new audience with signature cultures and distinct traditions. A booming product or service in the US, for instance, would not necessarily make the same buzz in another market. Brand localization comes as a comprehensive solution to the full spectrum of global business expansion related issues. But make no mistake; brand localization extends far beyond language translation; it is more of a rebranding process whereby you recreate your brand message and cater it to your new target audience.
The Pillars of Brand Localization
By definition, brand localization is a multidimensional process that aims at adapting your brand to the cultural and social context of a new local market. Carrying your success over to a new location is not that easy; it requires a well-crafted brand localization solution that entails a multitude of bespoke activities. Brand localization concerns every aspect of your brand and considers the most delicate details and subtle nuances. These are the most important aspects along with some popular examples of multinational companies that managed to localize their brands.
Names and Slogans
The names you use for your products and services in one country may be misinterpreted or even mispronounced in another one. This could harm your reputation or hurt the reliability of your brand. When it comes to localization, changing the name of your brand, product or service is not out of the question. Names and slogans are one of the main issues localization tackles to make your brand appeal to the local audience of your target market and feel like it is originally made for this particular market.
Case in point:
- Pepsi – Argentina: When expanded in Argentina, the famous soft drink manufacturer Pepsico had to change its product name into “Pecsi” instead of Pepsi to be easier to pronounce for the locals who speak Argentinian Spanish.
- Toyota – US: The Japanese car manufacturer’s brand name was originally Toyoda until it started selling its products in the US and noticed a difference in pronunciation. The Japanese brand had to change its name to Toyota to be easier for Americans to pronounce, and guess what: it drove higher sales.
Logos and designs
The brand’s visual identity is sometimes needed to be customized to the preferences of your new target audience. From the logos to the packaging designs, colors and symbols that look appealing to one market may be misunderstood, or even offensive, in other markets. Study the social and psychological context of your new target market and redefine your color palette and design guidelines.
Case in point:
- Twinings English Breakfast Tea – US: The UK tea brand used a whole new different tea packaging design in the US. The company chose different colors and designs for the tea package to resonate more with the Americans.
Localizing a brand requires a wealth of cross-cultural understanding to succeed in different parts of the world. Religions, regulations, and social traditions vary from country to another and represent a fundamental element when localization is in place. Featuring a scantily clad woman in a TV commercial, for instance, won’t work well in the MENA region, while a cow model in India won’t be a good idea.
Case in point
- Netflix: Covering a wide market of 190 countries, the video streaming platform had to adapt its content to the local cultures and legal restrictions in many places. Netflix curated local-language programming and content for each country, and recently started to create original programming in 17 different markets.
A huge part of any brand localization strategy is the translation of the marketing content into the language or the dialect of your target locale. Several companies are now speaking to each market using its colloquial language and slang idioms. This turns out to be a successful approach as locals interact more with the content in their own tongue.
Case in point:
- McDonald’s: McDonald’s is an epitome of the successful social marketing localization strategies as the fast food brand created different social accounts for every market separately and ran unique social campaigns in different languages and across various cultures.
Localization Service Provider
Allocating a good chunk of your budget to brand localization is totally worth it! Now that you see how complicated brand localization is, you must be able to recognize the importance of finding a reliable and native brand localization company with a successful track record. According to Torjoman, partnering with a brand localization specialist is, in fact, as important as conducting a detailed feasibility study and in-depth business and action plans. It is fair to say that the more you spend on brand localization, the higher return on investment (ROI) you will eventually get.
Last but not least, these are some golden tips to localize your brand successfully in a global competitive market:
- Conduct a brand new market research of your new target market(s) and assess the linguistic and cultural characteristics of the audience you intend to direct your message to.
- Run a detailed competitor analysis and make sure you enter the market with a clear edge over your local or global competitors.
- In the light of your market research and competitor analysis, make sure your brand essentials (names, logos, slogans, designs, tone of voice… etc.) fit smoothly with your new market and resonate with your new audience.
- Don’t launch your brand in a new market until it feels original and authentic in your new markt.
- Hire some natives, and look for cost-efficient and industry-specific localization partners that get you through the market easily and quickly.