This is the age of merging markets, increased connectivity, falling barriers and profitable conversations with communities around the world. Today’s business is about how much visibility our products and services have in various local and international markets. Global branding is a way to create a distinct identity among consumers worldwide. Today, branding is more important than the products or services it represents. Small businesses are not interested in branding. In fact, many do not even know what branding is all about! Why is that? In most cases branding is not part of the most pressing and urgent concerns of small businesses. Those owners have more important things to worry about, like paying bills and keeping their companies running and afloat. In addition, for some, branding sounds like an expensive tag that is not accounted for in the business’s budget.
If you are really interested in creating a global brand, consider the following eight points:
1. Draw your roadmap.
Do you want your product or service to be a showcase for the entire planet? If so, the very first step is to create a roadmap to direct clear focused attention to your offering. Ask yourself the following questions:
– What are you selling?
– How are you going to attract potential clients?
– How would they benefit from what you have to offer them?
– What makes your product or service different from and better than that of your competition?
– What is your niche?
– Who is your ideal client?
Having a website does not necessarily mean you are ready to play in the global market. You need to have a good plan as to what you’re going to be offering to whom and how you’re going to be attracting clients to your products and services.
2. Give it a nice, professional and culturally sensitive look.
An image is worth a thousand words. The task of building a global brand begins with the selection of a good corporate name along with everything that that implies: a logo, a marketing message, and the projection of an image aligned with what you want to portray on all the various communication vehicles you may use: stationery, brochures, labels, fax, email, display windows, company vehicles, etc. Be wary of any colors, icons or gestures that can be offensive or may have a negative connotation in other cultures.
3. Write for an international audience.
English is the language of business. English is currently the most widespread language in the world. It is second only to Mandarin Chinese in terms of the amount of people that speak it but second to none in terms of the number of people learning it. It is currently the primary language used on the World Wide Web and in the political and business arenas. It is the major language used on the Internet, which has in the last decade become a major and vital tool in the way we access information, conduct business transactions and communicate in general. The English language has become crucial to the way we interact with different people around the world. When writing your marketing messages, make sure they are written in plain English, free of slang and idioms. They need to be concise, free of typos, grammatical errors and suggestive messages. Now, if you want to “touch the hearts” of particular foreign markets to increase your business results, localizing your site – that is, converting the content to the particularities (e.g., language, cultural nuances) of a local market – will prove even more effective in growing your global brand.
4. Open up to online conversations.
Today’s marketing is about having conversations with the online community. Social media offers great advantages and the possibility of promoting and boosting the presence of your business or brand at a very low cost. In addition to that, social media allows you to target your messages to potential clients and segmented audiences. That’s why today’s businesses and marketing professionals agree that marketing is directly linked to the conversations we have with our clients and the increasing visibility of our businesses.
Keeping up conversations with your clients and potential customers is a perfect starting point for establishing a brand, because you show interest, share insights, offer solutions and gain credibility along the way, all of which will ultimately benefit your business.
5. Follow up and follow through.
Keep your promises again and again. Customers return to you because you offer something of value that another one may not give. Do what you say you will do and, if you can, a little more. Try to exceed your customer’s expectations. That always creates a solid and lasting impression.
6. Create an unforgettable experience.
Why do we pay $4 for a cup of coffee in Starbucks when we can get coffee for $1 somewhere else? Well, that’s because we are willing to pay for the Starbucks experience, that is, that feeling/emotion we get when walking into this coffee shop. Branding is all about emotions. You need to find a way to create an experience for your customers. By “experience” we mean an “adventure”, i.e., something that produces and maintains interest. Be creative and authentic in your promise of value.
7. Stay in Touch.
Keep in touch with your customers. Do not neglect them. Listen to what they have to say, to their needs and pains. Your customers are the best of source of information for your continuous business success. Be an active listener and take action based on their feedback.
8. Be consistent.
If in the real estate market “location, location, location” is the mantra, “consistency” is the one in branding. Practice what you preach, and here “you” means not just you yourself but your employees and anyone who is delivering your promise of value as well. Maintain consistency in the internal beliefs and practices of your business and what it communicates and delivers externally. Establish consistency throughout all aspects of your organization. Evaluate your actions and establish checkpoints and accountability in those that interact with your customers and the general public. Your brand is not just you. Each employee should be empowered to identify and address inconsistencies in your brand.
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Building a strong and solid global brand takes time, commitment, patience, focus and careful execution. A company that is willing to make the effort to transform its business and take it beyond the borders through a strong brand can expect to occupy a leading place in the ever-expanding world of brand-focused consumers.