We live in a deeply interconnected world, with networks criss-crossing the Earth, and global markets reforming the way we do business on a daily occurrence. It can be both easy and tempting – in this age of online markets and internet-based audiences – to believe that any brand in possession of a website and an online shop is automatically international in nature. However, the reality is that building and developing your brand beyond your regional or national borders is at once more complex and more rewarding than many first realise.
The first question we’d encourage brand owners looking to expand globally would be: what exactly are you seeking to gain from this step? After all, before any progress can be undertaken, it’s critical that a clear strategy is laid out for taking your brand beyond your local market, and that definitive goals have been established which quantify what your business stands to gain, alongside when, where, and how it will happen.
These questions should all have concise answers, and those answers will assist you in deciding how a brand management agency might be able to get the ball rolling, and what you should be prepared to invest over your chosen period of time. All too many brands are looking to grow for no reason other than growth being seen as the primary marker of success. Of course, in many senses, that’s exactly what growth is… but if that kind of development runs the risk of costing profitability, or distracting the brand owner and their resources away from an established local market, it may well be too high a price to pay.
Here at Haus of Hendricks, we’re always keen to help our clients achieve their absolute growth potential, and we know – on a profound level, and with proven results – how good branding practices and eye-catching design can help that happen.
We will be able to establish a clear game-plan for breaking international markets, but one factor will remain true no matter what approach you decide to take: more often than not, the key to success lies in your ability to stay true to what makes your brand special, no matter where in the world you may take your products or services. With that in mind, in this article, we’re going to lay out five crucial yet simple principles which will help you keep it real as your business crosses borders and reaches out to the world.
Tip 1: Know Your Brand Inside-Out
If you’re serious about shifting from a local market to an international one, and gaining an enduring presence on the world stage, it’s absolutely vital to evaluate how your brand will translate. We mean this both culturally and literally – all too often, brands will attempt to simply transpose their entire business model to a new country (especially if great success has come relatively easily on home turf), only to find problems arising in how that brand is perceived within a different environment or culture.
A brand should be seen as a spirit expressed in a service or product, and in addition to all the various viability factors (we’re talking level of competition, available demand in a new market, access, distribution, regulations, organic growth potential etc), it’s key to recognise what changes – if any – you’re going to have to apply to your core line-up. Even something as fundamental as your brand name might need addressing; an idea, concept, or word might have utterly different implications within another language or cultural context.
Tip 2: Tailor an Impactful Story Around Your Philosophy
More often than not, the story that carries your brand through your local market will not be the same as that which you can use elsewhere around the world. Why? Because people in other countries, who have grown within other cultural contexts, may see a whole number of different factors regarding your brand in a different light. One of the best approaches in this situation is to adjust your story to fit the local market you’re targeting. This primarily comes back to the previous point made above – in some markets, you’re going to want to highlight certain aspects of your brand philosophy over others, while in other markets, the opposite might be true.
When brands are looking to reposition, certain questions need to be asked repeatedly: where are you looking to go? What will people in other countries or markets want to hear about your brand, and what might they respond less favourably to? This isn’t about lying or hiding the truth; your philosophy and brand story will need to be consistent, but it comes down to a matter of emphasis, and ensuring that your narrative possesses the substance your brand requires to highlight different facets in different markets.
Your website, brand design, and brand message should be able to do most of the heavy lifting for you. Haus of Hendricks specialises in art-inspired and results-driven design solutions for brands of all types, and we’d be more than happy to open a discussion with you regarding how best to achieve this all-important goal.
Tip 3: Formulate a Plan for Progression
Many brands breaking foreign markets will need to consider exactly how they will use both their newcomer status and historical legacy to best effect. For example, brands from smaller countries looking to crack big and growing markets, such as China, India, or Indonesia, often find they lack the volumes necessary to meet sizable demands. Pacing oneself becomes important, as aligning your brand presence with your capability to fulfill and meet potential is vital to your success.
Your brand may start out as a market outlier, with the intention to become a household name over time. You might be intending to undercut the competition prior to introducing premium pricing and a more complete range as time progresses… but the chances are, if you’re a small brand, you need to use your unknown status to your best advantage. This might be by portraying your brand as a secret, capable of drumming up buzz and intrigue, or by marketing your brand in non-traditional ways or places to re-frame your offerings, or even by presenting your brand as a challenging new addition to the status quo, keen to shake things up and break a staid sector. No matter your approach, planning is paramount.
Tip 4: Be Open to Serendipity
Opportunities are prone to being over-thought. If we consider the world today as one which is increasingly interconnected, it is customers – not companies or brand managers – who make the key decisions regarding market entry. Take Apple, for example: their inter-nation expansion was kick started and dynamised by international visitors snapping up Apple products at US stores, and bringing them home. While many companies make the decision to enter a market, it’s actually just as common for the opposite scenario to occur: customers taking the initiative, and bringing the market to the company, thius steering the decisions which lie ahead.
Such factors are resulting in more and more brands going global despite not having any master plan. If you’re finding yourself slipping into this kind of situation (and let’s face it, there are far worse problems for a business to be facing), we’d advise starting by – at the very least – translating key pages online, finding ways to ease into in-market support, taking a look at pushing sales and marketing in crucial locations, and then making the decision whether or not to establish your own presence, or to rely on international distributors.
Tip 5: Expect and Plan for Local Competition
The very moment you land your brand in a foreign market, the entire dynamic around your competitiveness shifts and changes. Indeed, once you break new territory, you become a foreign brand in a new land: the very things which enabled you to succeed against international brands on your home turf are the exact advantages your local competitors have as you start trading in theirs.
As brands start competing in more and more countries, studies have shown that they attract diminishing loyalty from their the public or their target audience members. That doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t consider expansion – it’s merely a reminder that as you do expand overseas, you’ll need to plan for ways to counteract against the home-field advantages of your competitors.
Your competitors will be able to understand local needs, requirements, and preferences in ways that are inaccessible to you at first. They’ll trade on nostalgia and familiarity. They’ll have access to operational and logistical advantages, as well as powerful community ties and cultural identity. Factoring in effective tactics and counter-measures against these advantages will provide you with the rocket fuel you’ll need to find your footing in a new territory, and successfully develop your brand in each country you access.
The branding experts at Haus of Hendricks might not be able to fill you in on all the local knowledge that’ll help your company fly in a new territory, but we will be able to provide you with branding that targets specific audiences, and maintains and furthers your company values. Great branding, just like great art, isn’t tethered to a singular location or culture, after all – it’s a truly international language!
- Has your business had the time to consult with branding experts regarding how your overseas expansion will look, sound, and feel like?
- Do you have a watertight plan for progression in place, and contacts who can help you succeed in a new market?
- Do you have the funds to potentially undertake far-reaching re-branding efforts, and are you prepared to communicate the core of your brand values to a branding agency?
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Haus of Hendricks brings luxury branding to multidisciplinary projects, enriching businesses with design solutions that radiate success. In the pursuit of visual engagement, we channel the poetic, foster innovation, and throw open the doors of possibility.
With results-driven creativity and artful design, Haus of Hendricks curates high-end branding, marketing and organises events that inspire great change. From conception to completion, we forge narratives that bring customers to your door, and provide graphic design, social content, and luxury packaging that sparks the imagination and cultivates success.