Branding agencies have incredible expertise in supporting clients to develop and grow their brands, even under the testing conditions of a global crisis. They can help companies achieve various positive outcomes, from resonating more effectively with customers to making more sales. However, growing a brand in a single country is not the same as positioning it for global success. As such, this article looks at localization, internationalization, and globalization as part of a roadmap to success, covering everything from what these terms mean to tips for carrying out each activity effectively.
What are localization and translation?
Localization and translation refer to the process of preparing something (from a single document to an entire brand) for a specific local market. The translation element of the process relates to the work involved in converting one language to another. The localization part involves shaping the content to fit the cultural expectations of the intended audience.
What are the benefits of localization? By reworking the original content to better suit the new audience, localization maximizes the impact of that content. Successful localization can, therefore, help a brand gain exposure, engage more positively with customers, and build its reputation quickly and sustainably.
What are internationalization and globalization?
Internationalization and globalization are, in some ways, the opposite of localization. However, their goal is often the same — to help a brand connect with new audiences in positive ways.
Internationalization is the process of removing as many localized connotations as possible from a brand. The purpose is to make the brand appeal to the international community as much as it possibly can.
Globalization, meanwhile, is a multi-layered term that’s all about brand integration. It encompasses everything from having offices and production chains to global activity and actions.
What are some of the advantages of globalization? Quite simply, globalization means that businesses now have the world at their feet when it comes to their potential customer base — provided, of course, that they get their branding right.
Roadmap to success
Branding agencies seeking to help their clients globalize their brands need to follow a number of steps.
First of all, they need to consider the brand itself. From its values and ethos to its logo, strapline, and corporate imagery, how will the brand feel to overseas audiences? True globalization means that brand owners can’t be too precious about such things during the process of internationalization. The brand will need to appeal to as broad a customer base as it possibly can.
From the agency’s perspective, this means knowing the brand inside out, including what their customers want and what makes them tick. That knowledge then has to be extrapolated around the globe, with the agency considering how audiences in different countries are likely to respond to the brand.
Branding agencies will need to rely on local expertise in order to achieve this. Cultural considerations — and, therefore, marketing techniques — vary enormously from country to country. It is those on the ground who understand this best, so internationalizing a brand should be undertaken in consultation with localization experts in each country of territory that the company plans to enter.
In terms of globalization itself, the task involves far more than just translation, though the translation has to be spot on, naturally. Everything from the product itself to its safety manual, marketing documents, and website need to be internationalized as part of an overarching globalization strategy. This means systematically removing local references wherever possible, in order to internationalize the product.
Of course, some elements will still require localization. A company that sells products, for example, needs to price them on its website in the local currency. Product descriptions also need to use the right format for any dimensions that they list. And, of course, payment and delivery systems and information need to serve local needs.
This means that branding agencies that are working to globalize their clients’ brands need to internationalize first and then localize.
The size and scope of such work should not be underestimated. An aggressive growth strategy requires careful and detailed internationalization. It also requires translation and localization professionals for each market that the brand plans to enter.
In some cases, translation and localization work will focus mainly on language and practical items such as payment systems. In others, however, it will require much more work, perhaps even to the point of transcreation, where the brand is given an almost complete overhaul in order to ensure that it appeals to a very different culture than that of its original audience.
Examples of successful brand globalization
There are plenty of examples of brands that have started off small and gone on to successfully conquer the world, with globalization playing a key part in their having done so.
The world’s most valuable brands have all made globalization a priority, internationalizing their core offering and then localizing the face of the brand and its products for each national audience.
Think of Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung. These are the five most valuable brands in the world, with values that range from US$220,791 million (Amazon) to US$94,494 (Samsung). Each provides a fairly standard core product/service offering yet also presents this differently to audiences in different countries. The result? Global success. Who reading this hasn’t heard of every one of these five brands?
Branding agencies looking to imitate the success of such brands have plenty of work ahead of them. Working with professional translation and localization services is an absolute must, not just for their skills with language but for the valuable insights that they can provide. Their knowledge should incorporate everything from local marketing tactics to the particular cultural nuances of each target audience. It is this level of attention to detail that can, ultimately, make the difference between a successful globalization strategy and one that is doomed to failure even before it has begun.
Cover image source: Joshua Rawson-Harris