This hospitality localization blog focuses on global branding. Although this is an issue for many industries, it is particularly strategic for the food and hospitality industries. Because your brand is equivalent to your reputation, it is a critical component for establishing long lasting relationships with loyal and profitable customers on a global basis.
I recently read an article that equated foreign markets to children’s shoes — you select a size with plenty of room to grow. Over 95% of the world’s consumers reside outside the United States, according to recent statistics from the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Those international customers are eagerly awaiting your products and services, including hotels and restaurant service.
Global Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is a critical step in expanding your brand globally. You need to make sure that you develop a message that resonates with your potential customers’ wants and needs. You also need to ensure that you deliver it thorough the right channels to actually reach those customers.
Your brand is like your reputation: it is built upon first impressions and subsequent customer interactions with your employees, products or services. Advertising/media, personal contact and testimonials from other customers help to further shape or develop your brand. Once a brand is established in a new global market, it can be a reassurance or promise to a consumer that they can expect a certain level of service or satisfaction from your product. In return, these customers will be more willing to pay a premium for a brand name product or service if it comes from the perceived industry leader or a trusted brand.
Why Localization is Important to Your Global Branding Strategy
Translation and localization helps you to effectively communicate your company’s main message or service theme in your potential customer’s native language. An effective localized message recognizes the subtleties of the local culture and tradition. Localization helps you to successfully promote your message to targeted global markets and convert more customers for short term and long term revenues.
Items to consider when expanding your brand globally:
1. Carefully examine your business or product names. Should you translate or leave them as is?
When choosing a name for your business or product for global branding, you need to consider cultural sensitivities for targeted global markets. Will the name be offensive if left in English? In other words, does the English name “sound” like something it shouldn’t in the target market? We all remember the legend of the Chevy Nova. Poor sales of the US car brand in Spanish markets were directly associated with its English name which in Spanish sounded like “no va” or “no go”.
Make sure your product name make sense to customers in new global markets, both in English and in the target language, if you choose to translate it. Starbucks introduced a US holiday favorite, the Gingerbread Latte, to the German market, but discovered that it didn’t sell well, despite gingerbread being a favorite holiday cookie in that country. Sales of the drink increased dramatically when Starbucks began using the German word for gingerbread and rebranded the drink, the Lebkuchen Latte.
If you are considering translating your brands, don’t use computer generated or machine translation. You may end up with a sub-standard translation that offends potential customers or provides them fodder for ridicule. Work with a language translation services agency with relevant localization expertise, like GPI, who can help make sure you communicate your intended message.
2. Give your logo the twice over.
Make sure you also review your logo for any words or symbols that could be offensive in a foreign market. You may want to look at the colors used as well, as some colors may have a negative connotation in certain markets.
For example, if you are conducting business in the Middle East, a logo or brand campaign that features the face of a woman might not be appropriate. The best way to understand these cultural sensitivities is to consult a localization expert, like GPI, that can advise on these issues.
It is also advisable that you complete an international search to ensure your logo doesn’t resemble that of another international company.
3. Use the correct marketing channels.
Make sure your message is being communicated where it will be best seen or heard. When reviewing your marketing mix, look at the habits and lifestyle of your potential customer base in your targeted global markets. Determine which search engine they prefer, the social media channels they are most active on and what types of messages they interact most with.
4. Mind your manners.
The manner and tone in which you engage your new potential customers is as important as the words you choose. Literal translation can be lethal in global branding; it is critical that the essence of your message is translated in an appropriate manner per language and per specific locale. This manner and tone permeates throughout the entire organization, through all of your advertising, web content, and even through your employees’ interaction with customers through their sales message and customer support. Remember, this is all a reflection of your brand.
5. Brand Vigilance
As your brand grows in a market or possibly expands into even more locales, you need to be vigilant in maintaining your brand reputation. Remember that your brand is a promise of a certain quality of product or service. This is especially true in the food & beverage and hotel & hospitality industries.
For global branding, one bad customer experience is remembered 10 times longer than one good experience. Online training for your offshore staff can prove to be a wise investment, as can global distribution of translated and localized employee manuals. The steps I detailed above will help ensure delivery on the promise of your brand, regardless of how rapid your global market growth may be.