5 Things to Keep in Mind for Global Marketing Success
By Angelo Ponzi, Fractional CMO, The Ponzi Group
Creating a global brand and messaging strategy makes good business sense. Done right, it has the potential to dramatically expand your consumer base—not to mention your bottom line. Even if your brand is currently limited to the local or regional scene, it’s never too soon to start thinking globally. A brand’s image or reputation is only one post, share, Tweet or pin away from being known worldwide.
Year after year, many brands launch global campaigns only to watch them fail. Why? Most often, the failure can be traced to a lack of understanding about the markets and audiences the brand is attempting to conquer.
To develop a winning global brand messaging strategy, keep these 5 points in mind:
When Pepsi entered the Chinese market, their slogan “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” was translated as “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.” Not quite the message the company was hoping to convey. When Schweppes Tonic Water launched its campaign in Italy, the translated name was hard to swallow: Schweppes Toilet Water.
A literal translation of your message or brand name might get you in hot water (or toilet water). Skillful translation takes into account more than just the literal meaning of words and phrases. It also factors in idiomatic expressions, metaphors, slang and cultural references of the languages on both sides of the translation. In other words, your brand messaging needs to be translated by knowledgeable humans, not bots.
What’s hilarious in one country or culture might be cringey somewhere else. Jokes and wordplay rarely survive the journey from one language to the next. Even in the same language, humor can have a hard time crossing borders. Consider a slapstick British TV spot that makes UK viewers laugh out loud, but leaves U.S. consumers scratching their heads.
Humor is influenced by cultural values, etiquette, language and dialects, as well as social economics of the audiences. These are all important elements to research as you develop campaign strategies and creative executions.
3. Know where you stand and find common ground
Are you a challenger in one international market and a leader in another? How you speak to your target audience will depend on your market position, making it even more difficult to identify a distinctive message that is relevant globally from market to market. Identify a common motivation or need across cultures that speaks to your audience’s aspirations, not just your brand’s product benefits. By doing so, the overall culture of the brand remains constant and familiar to audiences throughout the world.
4. Be sensitive to cultural differences
Global campaigns often fail by not taking into consideration the cultural differences between markets. As mentioned above, cultural distinctions can influence how humor is received, but it goes beyond that. Culture can also impact how target audiences approach the category. For example, let’s say you’re selling cleaning products for mopping floors. In one culture the concept of mopping floors with cleaning products is totally acceptable. In another, the concept of mopping a floor is foreign; therefore you’ll need to use a more subtle or educational approach.
5. Do your homework
To help lay the foundation for global success, research your brand in current and planned markets. Research your competitors too, to see how they have succeeded or failed. To create a solid global brand strategy, it’s crucial to know where you stand and where you intend to go in relation to your competitors.
Invest the time (and money) to understand your target audience for both short-term and long-term global growth. Maybe you can only conquer the world a few countries at a time, but familiarize yourself with the rest of the world. Eventually, you’ll be ready to expand to new markets, and the research you did up front will serve you well.
About Angelo Ponzi
With 25+ years of experience, Angelo is a marketing and branding strategist that works with small to middle market companies as their fractional Chief Marketing Officer. He helps companies to define market opportunities, and develop competitive profiles, audience personas, brand realignment and strategies. He also creates strategic, integrated marketing plans that help businesses compete in an ever-changing marketplace. Through his company The Ponzi Group, Angelo focuses on three strategic pillars for success: Insights, Brand and Plan to develop effective and efficient programs for building enduring brands and sustainable business growth. Angelo is a Charter Member of GigX.