Today, locally based SMEs have the opportunity to reach international customers thanks to the technological developments and the globalisation. Often, this step is necessary for a business not only to grow, but also to survive in a saturated domestic market.
Nonetheless, international expansion is not an easy step for a company of any size. Before a business is able to successfully compete within the chosen market, it must fully understand the factors which influence it. A rigorous market research and analysis must be conducted and aspects such as the economic environment, culture, legal system and competitors must be assessed to see whether your brand is suitable for that particular market, and if so, what changes should be made to your strategy in order to successfully trade abroad.
In today’s competitive markets, building a positive brand image and gaining customers’ trust are nothing short of essential. One of the most important aspects of internationalisation is differentiating yourself and building a strong, competitive advantage, which will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
Expanding your company abroad can be truly great for any business in the long run, but in order to achieve an international success, your brand must communicate effectively with the target audience.
- Understand the cultural differences between you and your audience
Culture is characterised by common values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours which differentiate groups of people coming from different geographical regions or social backgrounds. Each of such groups has specific needs, preferences, purchasing habits and different motivations, all of which can directly or indirectly affect their consumer behaviour and shopping habits.
This explains why consumers don’t perceive and use products/services in the same way across different countries and markets. To avoid mistakes which could potentially damage your brand image, you must understand the differences.
Indeed, you should take into consideration various elements such as symbols and iconographies, cultural references, typography (reading direction) and so on.
Even colours are a cultural aspect. In the Western cultures, white is usually associated with purity, peace and cleanliness. Conversely, in some Asian countries, white is the colour of mourning. Similarly, to the green colour for another example; in the Middle East, it is the colour of Islam, represents fertility, luck and fortune while in Indonesia, green is a colour traditionally prohibited.
So, before you include any specific colour in your advertisement campaign or website design, it is essential to check such differences.
- Localization, transcreation and translation for social networks
If used correctly, social networks can nowadays be an extremely influential marketing tool. Managing and using them as a communication platform between you and your audience is important to keep your business successful on the international market. There is no doubt that social media platforms are an essential marketing tool in 2019.
Nonetheless, a ‘one-fits-all’ approach is not longer effective. Today, to ensure that your content is successful within each of the chosen markets, it must be carefully localised and adjusted specifically for your target audience.
A growing number of companies understand this and so transcreation agencies specialising in professional translation services and conveying content for the internationalisation process have recently become important business partners for many.
Localization and transcreation services focus on adjusting the brand message to the language, culture, legal and political aspect of the country you want to reach. These services take into consideration emotion, language and local customs, making sure that your marketing message is fully suitable for the audience you are targeting.
A great example of this can be ’KitKat’, the brand has changed their slogan to “Kitto Katsu” – meaning “You will surely win”, to be better understood on the Japanese market. The brand also modifying their product with flavours like matcha green tea, wasabi, soybean, ice-cream and more to cater the Japanese market.
- Create a multilingual website
As cultural differences can directly affect your company’s success abroad, the use of language can do that too.
In fact, your website, in most cases, is going to be the first point of contact between your company and a potential customer. In order to create a trustworthy brand image and to make sure you have a good visibility to your target customers, creating a website which caters information in the visitor’s native language is essential.
The consumers feel more inclined to commit to a purchase if the information about a product or services is provided in their mother tongue.
Translating into only one language can be risky. Although English is the international language of business, over 90% of customers in the European Union declare themselves more likely to buy an item online if the information about it is provided to them in their language.
As you can see, internationalization is not an easy step. However, if you take the time to do it right, you will save time and money in the long run. Effective communication is the key to building your reputation beyond your company’s home market.