Much has been written about the embarrassing gaffes brands have made with advertising campaigns and product naming overseas. Google “translation mistakes” for a list of classics (and a few persistent urban legends). Most of these errors center on a misunderstanding of usage, idiom, or double entendre. In some cases, the mistakes are isolated to ads. In others, brands suffer considerable damage, even forcing certain products into full-scale repositioning projects.
A brand is more than a single tagline or campaign. A brand is a carefully constructed identity in a consumer’s mind. It exists through a combination of language, image, product design and cultural context. When strong, a brand connects with a customer’s values and lifestyle, and can even be viewed as an extension of their public identity. Because of this power, brands drive consumer choice and (depending on the identity), command premium margins or larger market share.
Making meaning is complex, and entering a foreign market for the first time can represent a significant investment. Though some U.S. brands have traded on “American cool,” as part of their brand strategy, the approach is severely limited and increasingly tired on the global stage. A favorable introduction is the first yen, peso, or real in your international brand equity bank. Prior to a full-scale project kick-off, many companies explore their strategy with global brand evaluation services. Global brand evaluation services offer companies a pathway to maximize early returns by helping them answer difficult questions about their brand, such as:
What associations might customers form about our brand based on their cultural context?
Will the images and messaging associated with our brand translate well in our target market?
Is the position we hope to occupy in our target market different than in the U.S.? Is the foreign market flooded with competitors in this same position?
Should we consider repositioning our U.S. brand for certain regions or languages?
Are there any existing perceptions of our brand via familiarity with American positioning?
In addition to brand launches, global brand evaluation services are also productive for naming projects, sub-brand possibilities and new product launches.
If you’re exploring your options for future global profit, consider global brand evaluation services to help inform where in the world you might go next.
We’d be happy to explain our process and criteria for helping brands go global with the right strategy.