|7 Min. Read||Dominic Dithurbide||October 17, 2022|
International branding is the process of increasing business growth by establishing and building a brand identity within global markets. Businesses can form their brand in many ways, including through advertising, media, website content, word-of-mouth, and interaction with products or services.
Brand marketing involves a lot of identifying your company’s personality and how you want your customers – and the public – to perceive your organization. A lot of thought and time goes into branding, including naming products, designing logos, and ensuring uniformmessaging throughout the business. Is all that effort worth expanding to international markets? According to research, the answer is “yes”. Roughly 45% of middle market companies make more than half of their revenue overseas, and consistent branding can increase revenue by up to 23%.
An international market may represent an easier opportunity to develop a new revenue stream than other options within your home market. When you look into global expansion, you're ultimately searching for opportunities to diversify your product or service portfolio. Once you have identified a new market, you then must adapt your business model to take into account changes in operations within that new country.
A market in one country may require completely different products and services than a market where you're already established. Because of this, the methods of expansion associated with each market will also be different. Constructing and implementing an international branding strategy opens the potential to fill a gap in your revenue streams that you can't achieve in your domestic market.
International branding helps build and solidify your competitive advantage. Competitive advantages create the opportunity for a new company to splash onto the market and disrupt the current hierarchy of industry-leading products. New places to grow your business represent new opportunities. You may have access to technologies, labor pools, or industrial ecosystems that are perfectly aligned with your organizational goals.
By entering new markets, particularly emerging markets, you can get a head start on your competition. If they don't already operate in a specific country, you have the first-mover advantage and a chance to establish a brand presence as the go-to destination;this helps build an international brand name, giving your business reputation and credibility an edge in the local market. Over time, the company's image and notoriety can continue to grow.
The more eyes you can get on your brand, the better off it will be. When you prioritize international branding, your brand feels more authentic and can easily connect with customers. Global branding ensures more people see and interact with your brand, and, more importantly, understand what you offer. In fact, 88 percent of consumers identify authenticity as crucial when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla, 2021).
Every aspect of your business starts with identifying the short and long-term goals you want to achieve, including a global branding strategy. That strategy, which should include company objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs), should be explored before taking any significant action. The most commonly used KPIs include revenue growth, profit margins, and customer satisfaction measurements.
Here are some critical questions to answer thoroughly as you map out a global branding strategy:
Once you know the market you’d like to expand into and the goals you’re trying to achieve, you then need to decide how to enter the market with a solid global business expansion plan. There are four main international strategies that businesses typically follow. The international branding strategy model you choose may depend on your own business model, goals, budget, and other potential limitations.
An international strategy, also called an export strategy, focuses on exporting products and services to foreign markets while maintaining a single production headquarters. With multinational companies, local responsiveness is not prioritized – products are produced in the company’s home country and sent to customers all over the world. Subsidiaries function like local channels through which the products are being sold to the end-consumer. Large wine producers from countries such as France and Italy are great examples of international companies. When wine brands sell outside of their home country, the branding, products, and pricing stay the same.
Companies that adhere to a global strategy offer a standardized product worldwide and strive to maximize efficiencies in order to reduce costs as much as possible. Global companies are highly centralized and subsidiaries are often dependent on headquarters. Their main role is to implement the parent company’s decisions and to act as pipelines of products and strategies.
Global strategies have lower local responsiveness, but they prioritize global integration. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer can be considered global companies; those companies may make minor adjustments to their pharmaceutical offerings due to country-by-country regulations, but those offerings remain under the same corporate brand umbrella.
A business utilizes a multidomestic strategy when it uses entirely different sales, marketing, and product strategies based on the specific countries in which it is operating. Rather than one global brand, there are many smaller, country-specific brands tailored to local tastes and local customers. Companies with multidomestic strategies prioritize local responsiveness, adapting their product offerings and brand to local preferences. This requires a higher amount of brand localization as well as more authenticity and appeal to the local market.
Businesses that utilize transnational strategy operate with a central office in one country, coordinating local subsidiaries within international markets. This strategy combines the best of centralized decision-making while still allowing for scale in varied markets. Companies such as McDonald’s, Nike, and Coca-Cola use the transnational model. These well-known, easily-recognized international brands offer the same core products globally while also customizing additional products for local audiences, to satisfy local tastes and cultures.
Once you know your goals, the markets you plan to enter and your entry strategy, localize your content and brand to meet the demands of that strategy and begin building your international brand. You must ensure that you have thoroughly developed your brand voice, brand identity, brand promise, values, brand targeting, and brand positioning in your domestic market first. Brand localization is the process of adapting a brand to appeal to a foreign market, including a comprehensive plan to address the target market’s language and cultural nuances. It adapts your brand to meet demand, including services/products, platforms, and marketing messages. Brand localization serves as an essential piece of the international branding puzzle but can’t stand alone. To fully bridge global markets, and take full advantage of the benefits international branding provides, your company needs to follow each of these steps.
Unilever is a British multinational consumer goods company that produces food, cleaning agents, beauty products, and personal care items, and sells them in 190 countries. The company's product portfolio of more than 400 consumer goods brands = requires consistent proximity to local markets; simultaneously, local managers run in-country operations and manufacturing facilities, and divide the company based on the product offering. Some of Unilever's most recognizable brands include Axe, Dove, Ben & Jerry's, Knorr, and Hellman's. Their international branding strategy yielded a network of local brands that focus on the products that sell best in that particular sphere, such as Marmite in Australia versus mayonnaise in the United States.
Harley-Davidson takes a different approach to international branding. They have been producing motorcycles in the U.S. since 1903, and started exporting bikes soon after the founding of the company. Harley-Davidson competes in various country markets using an export strategy. When Harley-Davidson sells motorcycles abroad, they don't need to lower prices or adapt the bike to local motorcycle standards. The "Made in the USA" guarantee has been Harley-Davidson's unique feature and a means of differentiation from its competitors. In 2021, almost 1,500 suppliers exported around 194,260 motorcycles to Canada, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Most of Harley-Davidson's bikes go to India, Vietnam and Lithuania.
Through continued growth and exposure over time in the global marketplace, your brand and reputation are formed with both potential and existing customers. The right translation and localization company, such as MotionPoint, works with you to standardize messaging across any international market and gives you the ability to customize brand elements (web pages, promotions, offers) in different languages. With superior translation and localization technology and an efficient international branding strategy, you can rapidly and successfully expand to new markets.