Localizing Global Consumer Brands: 3 Tips for Success

462845747It is a new world. As purchasing increasingly shifts from a physical experience to a virtual one and transaction-based interactions between brands and consumers shift to relationship-based interactions, new skills and sensibilities are needed.” Jez Frampton, CEO, Interbrand.

For certain consumer products and services, good old bricks and mortar retail stores seem to be overshadowed by the growth of digital e-commerce. Nearly all global consumer brands now have a digital online dimension. The growth of the Internet has been great news for companies wanting to trade internationally.

Unlike the “old days” of global expansion, local brands have the ability to become global brands without having to invest heavily in prime retail real estate. When big consumer brands are looking to take products global, they first look to develop their online presence and make sure they have a solid globalization strategy in place. Of course, they need an experienced language services provider like Welocalize to make sure their brand translates in their voice, with the right tone and style into new markets.

Interbrand’s report, Best Global Brands 2013*, lists the top 100 brands. The list contains some classic consumer brands that are recognized all over the world. The 2013 report shows the following global brands in the top ten:

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. Coca-Cola
  4. IBM
  5. Microsoft
  6. GE
  7. McDonalds
  8. Samsung
  9. Intel
  10. Toyota

In this year’s report, Coca-Cola was knocked off the top spot, ending the drinks retailer’s lengthy reign at the top of all global brands. What is interesting about this report is not necessarily who is at the top, it is who has rapidly increased their brand value.

Interbrand’s report shows how the new, digital brands are really winning the hearts of global clients at a faster rate than some of the traditional bricks and mortar brands. Changing the way we work, live and play – and spend money. For example, those companies in the top 100 experiencing the highest increase in brand value include Amazon (+27%), Apple (+28%), eBay (+20%), Google (+34%) and the biggest riser being Facebook (+43%). These organizations listen to global fans, in their native language. They provide a good global brand experience at every touch-point.

For global brands and companies that are expanding their consumer markets, here are three things to consider for successful localization:

1.  Online means global. Your global online digital brand delivers the local consumer experience.

Your brand is one of your biggest assets. For the consumer experience to be rich and relevant, your content must be correctly represented in all your international marketplaces. Consider every possible touch-point if you want to stay in control of your brand. The digital brand reaches everyone.  Point-of-digital-sale materials, labels and packaging, social media and UGC, online customer support, e-commerce, online digital media and advertising — all these initiatives can touch consumers all over the world.  Does your online presence represent your true brand voice, globally?

2.  To control the conversation, you have to understand what is being said by your consumer.

In social media-land, brands are now being shaped by consumer opinion. Purchasing decisions are made based on online reviews. Amazon, HP, Microsoft, Nike, TripAdvisor and other leading global brands have sophisticated online review systems, used to help consumers make their final decision.

Tough lessons can be learned by not bothering to read and understand what is being written about your brand. This could be a PR and brand disaster. In the digital world, we can’t control the conversation but we must understand it, join in and use it to our advantage. For localization activities, this means we not only have to publish multilingual data, but also monitor what is being said about us – UGC is a two-way street. You have to translate incoming and outgoing content.

3.  Not all consumer content needs to be put through the same translation process. There are so many different types of content used by consumer brands to influence the consumer experience. It’s important to take a scalable approach to translation. Different types of content will need different translation approaches. UGC does not need 100% human translation with rigorous review processes. Machine Translation (MT) with some light editing may be the best approach.

For your global website, this represents the consumer web experience. Your online presence is such a big part of how the brand is perceived globally, the multilingual element has to be accurate and localized to a high standard. For certain product collateral, like a camera or phone packaging and/or technical manual, then translation can make or break a product’s success.

For the digitally-savvy, globalization has never been so easy. But to be successful in the fast-moving consumer market, you have to target and reach your consumers with the right voice and in the right language.

By Louise Law, Communications Manager at Welocalize

*Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2013 report is a look at financial performance of the brand, role of brand in the purchase decision process and the brand strength. www.bestglobalbrands.com