As businesses expand into international markets, more and more exciting opportunities emerge, as do unforeseen challenges. Globalizing a brand goes beyond translating a logo or slogan. In addition, brands need to seamlessly translate their message and values across borders and establish universal appeal in a multitude of languages and cultures.

Even for the biggest brands, this is not always easy to achieve, and many have failed on many levels. The brand should be flexible enough to use in other markets. In order to avoid these pitfalls when brands don’t translate, businesses should do market research and take steps to maintain base identity.


Conduct Market Research

No two markets are the same. The unwritten rules of etiquette, legal regulations, and consumer behaviors significantly vary by region. Thus, when you seek to adapt your brand in international marketing, you must conduct market research first and then listen to the feedback.

The goal is to become a globally-recognized and coveted brand. Sometimes companies successfully adapt their brand dramatically to meet the location of a new target market and sometimes they miss the mark. One way to effectively navigate this process is by acknowledging the unique needs of each market you expand into.


How to Maintain Your Brand Values While Adapting to International Markets? 

  1. Be Unique, Timeless, and Resistant
    A brand’s base identity incorporates the unique values that represent what that brand stands for and what it can deliver to the target audience. How a brand translates its identity among all the international markets in which it operates will determine its success over time. The way to maintain the brand’s values and base identity is to focus on developing a base identity that is timeless and resistant to change while still using localization for every market.

  2. Broaden Your Scope
    A brand’s base identity goes beyond its logo and slogans. You must pay attention to how your values and mission translate overseas, making sure it is consistent with your company’s base identity. Broaden your scope of focus to include the core values of your business.

  3. Beware the Internet
    The Internet and ever-increasing consumer travel create a challenge to maintain separate local brand identities overseas. If your home based audience encounters a vastly different version of your brand overseas, you may lose integrity in their eyes. Be sure that your brand’s global presence will not undermine your home market.


Avoid International Marketing Translation Blunders

Don’t learn the hard way as the following global chains did.

  1. Nike
    A few years ago, Nike, a global sportswear giant, released a line of patterned leggings inspired by southwest Pacific traditional tattoos. This ignited protests and petitions in New Zealand and Australia because the patterns were seen as exploitative as they were too similar to the traditional tattoos worn by Samoan men. Nike pulled the product in response.

  2. Starbucks
    To appeal to the culture of Saudi Arabia, Starbucks adapted its logo by showing only the mermaid’s crown. Consequently, their home audience admonished this change, accusing them of catering to a misogynist culture.

  3. McDonald’s
    McDonald’s does not focus its base identity on putting out identical burgers in all its franchise outlets. Rather, the brand reflects the standards of value and service that surpass local menu offerings. McDonald’s effectively illustrates its brand identity by the way it adapts its menu overseas to fit into each unique culture.

Native-speaking language experts should be involved from the beginning of the strategic and creative process to make sure your product’s brand stands out in any market and to successfully globalize. These experts can make simple adjustments to the campaign’s wording or images to adapt to the locale and to accurately reflect your brand’s base identity.

Don’t wait until after you’ve made a costly mistake in translation to turn to a professional translation service. The translation of your marketing materials must be localized to the target culture.

If you are ready to capture consumers in new markets and for your business to thrive in a language that speaks to a culture of people, contact LinguaLinx today. Feel free to browse through our case studies to see how we have successfully completed many localization projects.

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