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Global branding plus localization: 3 considerations to keep your image strong

Your branding is a visual, impact-based representation of everything your company stands for.

But do your logo, images, taglines and other elements have the same effect in the additional countries you have a presence in?

It’s important to consider all brand elements during the planning of your localization strategy when entering new global markets. So how do you ensure your cool, fresh image doesn’t fall flat on the international scene?

Here are three aspects to consider as you begin planning.

1. Logos and images

Your logo is the visual trademark of your company. There are intrinsic values that logos attribute to your company, which you need to keep in mind as you build out your localization strategy. A successful logo is as universally appealing as possible so that you can get global recognition—and avoid provoking negative reactions from your global audiences.

It is a best practice to research the new market—its cultural traits and the locals’ preferences—ahead of time so your company isn’t imperiled by a logo design that is subject to misinterpretation.

You can’t go wrong if you test your logo in new markets proactively. Plenty of companies go without this step and then suffer the consequences.

Consider USA-based company RJ Metrics, which learned the hard way when their logo—a dodecahedron (a geometric shape with 12 faces)—was interpreted as one big pair of underpants by consumers in the United Kingdom. In response, the company modified their logo by changing the angle of design and making the lines thinner. The altered logo ended up being more acceptable across cultures.

Although RJ Metrics used surveys from global consumers to gather feedback on their logo, their research was a response to the aftermath of brand criticism. If RJ Metrics had considered their trademark as part of their localization strategy from the start, they could have saved themselves a lot of embarrassment and extra work.

2. Names and taglines

It’s not always possible to keep company names in the original source language for stronger brand recognition, such as what Nike does. If your company name, product names or taglines are core parts of your brand, you may want to localize these for specific markets if they aren’t interpreted well in different languages or cultures.

For example, Coca-Cola Company considered how their name came across while formulating their localization strategy for China. The direct translation for Coca-Cola in the Mandarin language is “bite the wax tadpole.” However, they changed their iconic brand name to something more enticing and more culturally acceptable for Chinese consumers. The rebranded name translates to “delicious, able to enjoy.” The company used Chinese characters to further localize the name.







3. Colors

Colors convey different meanings and connotations across cultures. Your localization strategy planning should involve colors used in your branding—your logos, graphics, marketing collateral or other visual aspects.

For example, in Iran, the color green is viewed positively because it signifies joy and success. However, in the Chinese culture, green carries with it an aura of disgrace.  A company should always consider and research how cultures will react to colors. It’s possible to find out how a given culture feels about a certain color or which colors are unacceptable. Marketing research such as this is critical in determining whether you will have problems debuting your company in a given locale.

Another option is to keep your brand colors intact but blend more culturally appropriate colors into your marketing materials and packaging.

Keep in mind that positive brand recognition results in large part from strategic color selection. According to the Color Marketing Group, color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent. While developing your localization strategy, be sure you address this significant aspect of your branding along with the rest of the elements.

By catering these facets of your brand to each of your target markets as needed—you’ve taken an important step toward wowing your global audiences. Have you localized any key brand attributes when entering new global markets?