31 May Top Tips for Taking Your Brand Global
If you’re thinking about taking your brand global, you’ll need to put in some major research. You’ve heard the phrase a million times about content being King. Beyond a perfectly crafted brand message across multiple channels at home; you’ll need content that resonates with your target audience around the globe.
If you haven’t heard of localization yet, it’s time to get familiar with the concept. Beyond translating your website into multiple languages, localization takes into account the user experience as well. So, if you want to take your brand global, you’ll need to focus on getting this right. Here are a few tips:
Prepare Your Website for Localization
Website localization and marketing localization are much easier if you plan for them from the outset. So, carry out your research before you start. Find out who your ideal customers are. Where do they live? What do they like? What language do they speak (and what variation of that language)?
Whether you decide to take your brand to various different countries at once, or follow a more cautious approach, the same truth applies. All your customers have different wants, needs, tastes, cultural beliefs and buying preferences. And you need to be ready to meet them all.
You can prepare your website in advance to cater to these multiple factors in several ways:
Leave Plenty of Space
A good designer knows how to make use of space to allow users to zero-in on CTAs and experience optimum navigation without distractions or clutter. But when you’re taking your brand global and need to get your content localized into multiple languages, space becomes even more important.
Why? Because all languages require different amounts of it. For example, many languages, including German, French and Italian, can take as much as 30 percent more space than English.
You also have languages that read from right to left to deal with, such as Hebrew and Arabic. As well as Asian languages that read vertically.
So, if your content only just fits in with the website dimensions, or you’re working with hard-coded CTAs, your design will break when you get it localized. You may end up forcing translators to use different text that doesn’t sound as appealing, or pay for redesigns. This will be costlier in the end and is easy to avoid by careful use of space.
Choose Your Images Carefully
Remember, global tastes may be merging, but culture is still a highly important factor when taking your brand global. Ignore it at your peril. Your website images, social media and marketing campaigns are vital when you enter different markets.
When you roll out your brand internationally, and you want to avoid such issues, minimalization is key. Just look at Google or GoDaddy. They hardly contain any images (or no) images at all. You don’t have to cut out all your enticing pictures and graphics. But, you do need to choose them carefully.
A shot of a family enjoying time on a beach may work well for a European audience. But not for users seeing your brand in the Middle East. Icons that are commonly used in many countries (such as the thumbs up sign) can be offensive in others, like Iran.
Colors have different meanings according to the culture that observes them and internet speeds vary around the world. If your site is full of heavy images, not only will you have to painstakingly check them all for cultural appropriateness. You’ll also need to optimize them for speed, and even then, they may still slow your site down.
Avoid images with text at all costs (as it will be hard to extract the text, translate it and fit it back into the image) and keep videos to a minimum. Unless you want your site to run slowly and get abandoned before your users see your message.
Analyze the Appropriateness of Your Brand Name
Depending on the name of your brand and type (invented, generic, and so on), you’ll need to analyze its appropriateness in overseas markets. You may be able to keep the same name. You may need to work with a translation, or you may need to change it all together.
It’s best to work with a local marketing consultant on this to find out how local people react to your brand. Coca-Cola’s brand name when first translated into Chinese came out as “Bite The Wax Tadpole.” Even the international giants have hit stumbling blocks when taking their brand global. Make sure you learn from their experience.
Be Sure You Use Unicode
This should be factored in from the start, as Unicode is the standard in the industry for dealing with multiple languages. Regardless of accents or characters, Unicode supports just about all of them and over 90 different scripts.
This means that when you translate into a language that uses foreign characters, your text won’t break or fill up with odd-looking symbols. By making sure your programmers use Unicode (even if you don’t take your brand global right away), you’ll already be designing with a global audience in mind.
Obsess Over Your Site Speed
Site speed is one of the most important factors in play today. Whether your customer is based in the South of France or South Korea, they want to see your content quickly. They don’t have time or patience to wait for a slow page to load. In fact, 40 percent of users will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. So, you’ll lose almost half your potential customers before you’ve made contact.
There are many ways you can optimize your website for speed. But if you’re going to take your brand global to many different markets (especially if you have an e-commerce site), use a CDN.
CDNs (content delivery networks) are not cheap, but they will ensure that your site loads the same all around the world. This means that if you’re selling in areas with slower speeds, the CDN will use local servers to ensure your site loads quickly.
Site speed is also a ranking factor for most search engines. So, there’s an extra advantage to making sure yours runs quickly.
Be on Hand Around the Clock
If you’re going to take your brand global, that means making sure your customer support is global as well. I don’t need to remind you of the competition out there. Not only are you going up against local competitors who speak the language perfectly. You’re trying to outwit large international players as well.
So, make sure you provide customer service support around the clock. If you have clients needing a quote in Hong Kong, only opening 9 to 5 PST isn’t going to cut it. So, take on remote employees if you can’t set up an office. Make sure you have people on hand when your customers need them and in the local language as well.
Finally, don’t let deadlines or external pressures lead you into making mistakes. It’s far better to delay the launch for a few days than to launch and make the wrong impression. You don’t want to be a national joke or insult, get banned, or end up with a fine for non-compliance.
The key to taking your brand global lies in research, testing and careful localization for every market you enter. Good luck!
Christina Comben is Content Manager at translation and localization services providers, Day Translations. Multilingual and qualified to MBA level, Christina is passionate about writing, traveling and continued education.