Why is creating a global brand identity important?

29 April, 2020 | Digital Marketing | 5 min read.

All businesses have the potential to expand into new markets, and with digital marketing speeding up the process, this isn’t going to change any time soon. Technological developments and internet world-domination mean that consumers around the globe have the ability to connect with brands 1000s of miles away, giving businesses more opportunities for international growth than ever before.

Expanding into another country, however, needs much more than a good website (although this is helpful!). To be successful, you must also have a strong global identity with consistent messaging and values. Think local, act global.

Managing a strong, international brand identity reinforces your reputation and differentiates you from your competitors. Get it right and you can increase customer loyalty, reach and recognition, grow new leads and boost your bottom line significantly, but globalising your business isn’t easy. Your brand must translate seamlessly across borders and appeal universally to your target audience. To do this, there are many factors you must consider:

BRAND POSITIONING IN LOCAL MARKETS

In competitive industries, it can be difficult to make an impression and stand out. The challenge gets even harder when expanding into another country and marketing to an entirely new audience.

The first step to globalising your brand is reviewing your existing position in the local market. What are your brand’s core principles? What is your business’s cultural identity? What are your values? Before stepping into other markets, understanding what differentiates your brand is key to creating a strong and consistent international identity.  

It’s important to remember that your business will be competing with many local industry leaders and other, potentially global, brands that are already firmly established there. Having a secure and strong brand position involves truly understanding your competition and your competitive advantage. By doing so, you can influence purchasing behaviour in a truly valuable manner. Ask yourself: Who provides similar products and services in that market? What makes you different? What is your unique service proposition?

Arthur Weiss, managing director of competitive intelligence agency Aware, states that “by monitoring competitors on an on-going basis, you get to know their behaviour and so can anticipate what they are likely to do next. You can then plan your own strategies and win customers away from your competitors.”

By keeping tabs on your competition, you can expand your business internationally and break into new markets with confidence.

CULTURALLY CONSIDERATE MARKETING

When marketing your business, you cannot assume that what has worked in one country will be naturally replicated in another. For example, when Tesco entered the Japanese market, they underestimated the retail landscape. They invested over £250 million and 8 years into trying to break into the market but had to accept failure in 2011 when they could not build a sufficiently scalable business.

To create a brand that appeals to an international market, you must strategise based on what the specific market responds to. For example, according to Hubspot, UK residents are more 11% more likely to use social media for business when compared to their US counterparts. Market research will tell you exactly how to fine tune your strategy and allocate your budget.  

Building a global brand involves taking awareness of context. A clever brand name or marketing slogan which may sound great in one language could result in a cultural misstep in another. For example, Mr. Muscle, the popular line of cleaning products, had to rename their business to “Mr. Powerful” when starting out in China, as the spoken translation of their previous name meant “Mr. Chicken Meat” (Today Translations).

This cultural difference is also seen in imagery and colour. For example, in Indonesia, green is a “forbidden colour” and in South America, green represents death. However, in the Middle East, green is the colour of luck. Ensuring that your brand translates well across the world is integral in global success – using green in your logo and branding in the Middle East might work well, but you’re unlikely to break into South American or Indonesian markets.

When working with Carl Data Solutions, we shipped our brochures out to Sweden, Canada, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Within each country, it’s possible for a piece of work to be received differently. As the countries Carl Data Solutions operate in all have different cultures, it was important to ensure this brochure could be received positively across all 4 countries – taking into account the different connotations of colour, imagery and language. In order to complete this project, we created one brochure which translated seamlessly for a wide international audience with special attention to brand, word and colour connotations.

MAINTAINING CONSISTENCY

One of the largest challenges that companies face when trying to expand into a new market is maintaining their existing brand identity while customising brand messages to appeal to local cultures, preferences and regulatory environments.

You must be cautious and ensure that the extent to which your brand adapts to different audiences doesn’t erode the positioning and identity of the brand in your home market. Of course, cultural differences are likely to mean that certain branding elements will adapt as you explore new markets, but your core principles and identity should always remain the same.

These principles and identity should be built upon the conclusions you drew from your initial brand positioning review. Whether it’s the quality of your products and service, or the tone and personality used in your marketing campaigns, you should remain consistent, but flexible. This consistency is what makes a strong brand that is familiar to consumers wherever you are in the world. In fact, according to Forbes, consistency across channels increases revenue by 23%.

A great example of brand consistency is from Innocent Smoothies. One of the most recognisable features about their brand is their tone of voice, which is informal and friendly. They stray from grammatical conventions, regardless of the country they are in, and keep their language colloquial. This creativity and consistency across the globe establishes the brand in different markets and creates trust. This means that regardless of country, Innocent Smoothies is a brand you recognise.

OPERATIONAL ISSUES

Conducting business in foreign markets brings with it many operational issues which can affect the running of your company.

You should review the country’s law and it is highly advised that you seek experienced legal counsel for overseas business practices. By doing so, you can identify hazards that may cause barriers to your business. For example, in Sweden all employees receive 34 paid leave days whereas the UK only receives 28.

You will also need to think of basic operational necessities like setting up Wi-Fi, banking, a phone number and paying utilities bills in order to get your day-to-day operational tasks running. To do this, you must consider differences in currency and how that compares to your existing markets.

Other factors you must consider include time differences and communication between different areas for your business. Say your head office is in the UK, but you have just expanded into Australia, it’s important to work around time differences, especially when it comes to deadlines. For example, when working with PRC Partners, we had to schedule our calls around each other due to different time zones in both Canada and Hong-Kong. This meant we’d often take calls first thing or stay up late to ensure constant communication with the team and guarantee we hit the brief and finished projects in time.

EDGE Creative

Breaking into international markets can feel scary – but all companies have the potential to go global. To achieve this, you must develop a strong global identity that positions your brand within your industry, translates seamlessly across cultures, maintains consistency and is operationally functional.

At EDGE Creative, we have experience working with international businesses across many countries. If you want support creating a global marketing strategy for your business, email EDGE Creative at info@edge-creative.com or call us on 0121 355 8092.