Localisation: Branding across borders

It seems that nothing is simple nowadays in this international, multilingual, hyper-connected, tech-savvy world in which we live.

Unfortunately, the same could not be more true when it comes to taking your company overseas and making your brand accessible across the globe.

While it is a considerable task and one that should not be taken on lightly, there are a few fundamental questions you need to ask yourself which, once you have a response up your sleeve, should render the whole affair a lot less daunting.

Understanding localisation

If this term is new to you, then you need to get clued up – and fast. Broadening your brand’s horizons is not simply a case of hiring a few more marketing execs and taking out a lease in a new office.

Localising your company, brand, products and services requires extensive research of the market into which you are expanding. Who are your target audience and what do they want? How do they behave and what channels do you need to be focusing on?

But localisation isn’t just about researching your target market; there are many more delicate factors to take into account. For example, are there any cultural, religious, social, economical or political considerations that affect market behaviours? Are there any connotations or nuances to your current branding that could be lost or that will need adapting when you take it overseas? How will differences in legislation affect your operations?

You will also need to give some thought to your competition, as it is unlikely to be made up of the same rivals you face on the domestic scene. Have you considered registered trademarks and domain names, particularly region-specific ones, that you might need to get your mitts on?

In short, taking your brand abroad will require a wealth of research to be done before anything else.

Recognising shortfalls in expertise

You may have an enormous amount of faith in your workforce. However, few companies will have all of the skills and expertise required on-hand to take a brand multinational.

Rather than trying to compromise or make do with the personnel available to you, identify those key areas in which third-party specialists might be able to help.

For example, should you require a translation service, consider setting aside some of your expansion budget for business interpreters, such as companies likeĀ London Translations, to eliminate the challenge you may face by trying to tackle language barriers on your own.

Thinking ahead

In order to be successful in business, you need to remain one step ahead of not only rivals, but also yourself. It is not good enough to make game-changing decisions – such as making the move to expand abroad – without considering future repercussions or potential projects going forward, once the initial phase has been executed.

If you take these projects one step at a time, you may find that you hinder yourself further down the line because you hadn’t accounted for such an eventuality. Is there a chance that if you manage to conquer the Chinese market, you could look to expand into Hong Kong, Japan and South-East Asia too? How might that affect your plans, knowing this may be on the horizon?

These are the sorts of forward-thinking questions you must be asking yourself. After all, once you have broadened your horizons, who knows where it will take you next?