Difficulties of Managing a Global Brand

Conducting business in the 21st century is definitely not the same as it used to be. Today, thanks to the Internet and the increasing trend towards globalization, it’s quite common for companies to market their products to potential customers throughout the world. But connecting with people from different cultures, who speak different languages and whose values may be much different than our own, can make managing a global brand challenging, to say the least. What follows are some of the most common difficulties you may encounter when marketing your product on a global scale, and tips on how to meet those challenges.

Translation, Translation, Translation

To paraphrase the old adage in real estate that it’s all about “location, location, location,” the key to successfully managing a global product brand is all about “translation, translation, translation.”

• Identifying your target markets

The first translation task involves making sure that the need and value of your product translates well with the people you’re trying to sell it to. Marketing home alarm systems, for example, wouldn’t translate well to people in poor third-world countries who can barely afford a roof over their heads. On the other hand, home alarm systems would probably be of great interest to people of average-and-above income in large European cities, for example. In this instance, you would be marketing your product to an audience that can not only afford to buy it, but would also benefit from the protection it would provide in densely populated areas where crime might be an issue. So an important part of identifying your target audience is making sure that your product translates as something they need, want, and can afford.

• Translating your brand – literally

The next translation task is all about ensuring that your target audience understands what your product is and what it does. This involves everything – from advertising the product to social media outreach to online marketing campaigns to ensuring that the product packaging is clearly understandable by your potential customers and much more. That requires the services of a translator who is not only fluent in the target language, but one who also understands the nuances of language usage and popular jargon. For this task, a translator who is also a native speaker is always preferable.

• Localization

The third translation task involves fine tuning your brand for your target markets. It’s crucial to remember that not every country has the same cultural norms as we do here in the US. In fact, even people who speak the same language can have vastly different cultures – consider people who speak French in Canada compared to people who speak French in Haiti, for example. In order to successfully market your product to people in different parts of the world, you need to be sure that everything about your brand — including marketing materials, packaging, etc. – is appropriate for your target audience. That requires having a translator who is not only a linguist, but also a localization expert. You’ll need the assistance of a trained professional who is fluent in the language and one who also understands the cultural sensitivities of potential customers in other countries around the world. Language isn’t the only issue – certain images and even some colors may be offensive to some cultures – so make certain that your translator is also a localization expert.

When it comes to successfully managing a global brand, it’s all about “translation, translation, translation.” Once you conquer these translation challenges, you can take on the other more straightforward, logistical difficulties in selling to a worldwide audience. This may be the age of globalization, but that doesn’t mean that everyone around the globe is the same. In fact, just the opposite is true.