International Branding 101

Branding is not just who you, or your company is…

branding is who you and your brand become in the eyes of your consumer. 

You must be acutely aware of your brand and the message that it sends in all locations, but especially internationally. The maintenance of a central corporate identity will be important in the promotion and selling of your company’s products and services. Seemingly innocuous decisions about the size, colors, patterns, and sounds affiliated with your brand have a profound effect on buyers that are sometimes difficult to foresee. Brand consciousness is paramount to the success of your business. Even the color scheme in your logo or product design is important because depending on where your brand is marketed; a seemingly arbitrary color scheme or pattern; could be interpreted to mean anything from loyalty and allegiance to a country, to purity. They could even be unwittingly communicating agreement with of war. The sizing you choose matters too. A dainty, small emblem can appear inviting (or insignificant) ; while a larger, more overt advertisement might appear overbearing (or exciting). A sound that -heard stateside- would be motivating and patriotic, could incite fear or discomfort outside our borders. 


What are you to do?

Give careful thought to the “where”. Where is your brand being represented? What is it saying about you? Conduct some market research in the areas you plan to market. What do the color, sizes and sounds affiliated with your brand mean in the parts of the world where you’re represented? Get familiar. Have consciousness of what your corporate brand is and represents in the region which you are most familiar first. For those you’re not so familiar with; and for regions that you wish to expand to - research cannot be underestimated. Look at the brands, colors etc. that are present and successful there and study the history of the people, especially those in your target market. You will gain insight into the cultural relationship to brands.

Although there is much to be said concerning consistency, you may need to alter the company’s logos. This could mean replacing colors that are threatening, or even restructuring the patterns or insinuated shape. When considering adjustments; don’t forget to consider size. Logo sizing is an area where - depending on your desired affect - increasing or decreasing the size even in minor ways could prove wildly profitable. Experimenting with color shades has a noticeable impact on the consumer, but does not necessarily change the brand image. Play around with the possible adjustments and consider using a test group to determine the effectiveness of your advertising in the desired market. Get creative. Depending on your venue and audience you may need to turn up, speed up or slow down your corporate “sound”. When in Rome…