What does it mean to have a global brand?
Does it mean you build a website, then make it globally accessible, complete with translations? Or that you'll ship your products anywhere?
Well, those are few considerations, but only small parts of a much bigger picture.
I'm learning lots of these things for myself, since my own brand has been launched in 23 countries (with 5 more to be added in 2018), and I thought that since I'm just finishing up the filming of the Awakening Giants documentary in Ecuador, now would be the perfect time to talk about global branding.
Advice for Global Branding
I've seen lots of mistakes being made in the building of global brands—and I've made some of those mistakes myself. My mission is to prevent you from having to suffer the consequences of those same blunders, so I'd like to impart some of the wisdom I've accumulated over the years.
- Know Your Intentions from the Start. Around here, we talk a lot about getting your branding right the first time—and about looking ahead and defining where you want to be in five years, ten years and beyond. This should include your intentions for what geographical regions you will serve. Oftentimes, your ideal customers aren't concentrated in your home country; instead, they're across the globe. Know this going in, and you can start out building your branding strategy around that aspiration. You can, of course, expand into places as opportunities arise; however, it will be helpful to you if you build a brand that is flexible enough to assimilate to various cultures before you offend or lose your message on any group.
- Understand How Culture Affects Consumer Behaviour. Culture affects how people shop. Hold on tightly to this truth, or you will be destined to learn about it the hard way. Ask questions like A) What times of day do the people shop? B) Where do the people like to shop (close to home or work)? C) What types of products and services are the people willing to spend more for? Knowing the answers to these questions before you launch a marketing campaign (or even have a conversation) in new geographical locations will help to ensure that your global branding makes great impressions.
- Know Which Competitors are Working There. You've done competitive analysis at home. And now you've got to do that abroad, too. Not every competitor is going to join you on the global stage; and not every competitor who's serving other countries is active in your hometown.
- Establish your Uniqueness in Each New Area. You know what makes you unique at home. Now what makes you unique in every other country you wish to serve? Understand that what's extraordinary here might not be anything too special elsewhere. Know the culture. Know what else is available. Understand the platforms on which others are competing. All of this knowledge will give you a competitive edge—no matter where you're doing business.
- Avoid Faux-Pas. Some colours can be offensive to certain cultures. Some translations just end badly. Know exactly what you're saying with your global branding, to ensure that you're not alienating ideal customers from your brand. Clairol failed to do their homework when they launched the Mist Stick, which translated to Manure Stick in Germany. Colgate made a similar misstep when they decided to sell a tooth paste called Cue in France…which is also the name of a French porno mag.
- Name your Business Accordingly. If you have global branding aspirations, avoid regional business names—and those that otherwise limit geographical expansion. Even using your name in the business can be limiting, especially if your name (first or last) is typical of any ethnicity or region.
- Make Local Connections Before Expanding. This is something that has been integral to the global expansion of my brand. You won't often know where your brand is needed until you come in contact with those people who are immersed in the culture and communicate that need. These are also the same people who will have the connections necessary for breaking into new geographical regions. So reach out. Find those who share your values, regardless of where they live. Ask lots of questions. Offer lots of value. And then determine where your brand should expand.
Global branding isn't for the faint of heart. There will be translations and the occasional faux-pas. There will be travelling and the appointment of global brand ambassadors.
If you're up for it, you're a special kind of brand builder, with high goals and aspirations. And that's exactly the type of entrepreneurs we're looking for in the Brand Builders Club. Haven't heard of it? It's a global network of freedom-focussed entrepreneurs who are building purpose-driven brands. Want to learn more? Simply send a message to [email protected] and we'll talk about the club and if it's right for you.