Does what you sell in the United States sell in diverse places like China, India, Egypt, South Africa, and Brazil without any changes? Chances are that you will have to re-brand part of what you sell to match the local market.
Very few, if any businesses can run the same operations in China as they would in the United States. Why? Well, you have to deal with not just the language differences, but also a cultural barrier.
Business To Business Sometimes Gets Messy
Take the long standing trade relationship between the United States and China.
Even as early as during negotiations, the localization of your brand matters. China does not care how many tubes of toothpaste or cars you have sold. Instead, they want to honor tradition when they negotiate with you. The tradition of taking numerous meetings to connect with their potential trading partners.
While Westerners grow impatient, shrewd Chinese businessmen have learned how to use this to their advantage to get strategic concessions. Body language is huge – a long pause in China sometimes may mean millions of dollars of business.
This is why transcreation services have become popular with multinational corporations. Businesses need help translating their marketing ideas around the world.
How Then Do We Localize Your Brand
Consider the mega brand Pampers in the United States. A few years ago, when they launched in Japan, the brand flopped initially. Why? Well, Pampers used their famous image of a stork delivering diapers. After all, who does not like the friendly stork?
The answer would be Japanese mothers and fathers. In Japan babies are delivered by giant floating peaches. When Proctor & Gamble switched the images to match the local culture sales sky rocketed.
However, sometimes you can do everything right and still get it wrong. Multi-national Walmart does business in over 200 countries. Yet Germany is not one of them.
German males felt that employees handling their groceries at the check-in line meant the clerks were flirting with them. A big no-no if you are with your spouse or girlfriend. Additionally, Germans like to shop for groceries on a daily basis and fresh food is preferred. Stocking up American style had no appeal.
Body language-check! Patience-check! Wording-eh!
Sometimes, however, it is not how you say it, but what you did in fact say. Even companies with good intentions can make mistakes.
Take the Colonels favorite restaurant, KFC. In the 1980′s when KFC launched in China they accidentally translated their trademark “Finger-lickin’ good” to “Eat your fingers off.” Chinese consumers were not exactly in the mood to eat their fingers off, so they initially passed. Now, that the motto has been changed, KFC has 700 restaurants in the country.
U.S. beer-making giant Coors apparently thought their slogan, “Turn it loose!” would translate to Spanish just fine. Unfortunately, “Turn it Loose” came out, “Suffer from Diarrhea” instead. In 2006, hair care company Clairol introduced a curling iron called the Mist Stick, which did very well in U.S. markets. When the company marketed the product in Germany, however, they failed to realize that “mist” means “manure” in German. Oddly enough, the “Manure Stick” didn’t sell so well in Germany.
However, what do you do if the product name itself is off? American Motors in the 1970′s introduced their midsize car, the Matador, in Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, the Matador has more to do with a male member in Puerto Rico then a car name. Oops! At least the car took off with a certain subset of the male population in the country.
Localizing Your Brand
In the end, localizing your brand has more to do with creating content that people in your target country can understand based upon their mores and values. Transcreation services have increased many times over the past few years, because corporations realize they need to approach every country in a new way. This means understanding not only how their brand can help prospects in different countries, but also how those prospects can fit your product into their past experiences and understanding. In other words, you have to do your research to get it right.