English: The language of all business?


If a recent survey is anything to go by, many UK-based SMEs believe English to be the ‘international language of business’. On coming across the recent findings, I was taken aback by this statistic. I wrongly assumed that most brands planning to trade abroad would put comprehending locality and language at the top of their list. But in real terms, this doesn’t seem to be the case for all.

In fact, according to the survey carried out by Global Lingo, one third of UK SMEs think implementing an English-language website, and other English-language communication materials, would be adequate when operating overseas.

Solely relying on the use of English for a website, all communications and marketing collateral is bonkers for countries where English isn’t the mother tongue. It’s vital brands make sure they have a local face. A face that’s friendly and fits in will, overtime, become familiar.

Brands that aren’t ready to demonstrate a full understanding and appreciation of local culture and mirror this in all they do, will most likely fail in their mission. A lack of linguistics and bad communication between UK brands and their potential foreign customers is fatal for those looking for success overseas. Just because your brand is well understood in one country, it doesn’t mean it is going to be triumphant in another.

There are also other barriers brands need to overcome in other regions, such as certain territories only accessing the internet on mobile devices.

I’m sure many business owners are worried about language barriers and culture diversity, but to think about this further down the line is a mistake. They must action this first when in the planning stages of launching. My message? Be prepared.