Understand consumer behavior
This idea plays to understanding the culture of your target market. For instance, doing business in China is much more long term and relationship based than the straightforward American business style. Making sure that you send the same level executive to negotiate with the Chinese is crucial. Not only that, but understand consumer buying behavior will help you succeed in your advertising and inventory management. Continuing with an expansion into China, many of the consumers are simply focused on form and function with a low price rather than brand name.
Position yourself properly
Understanding a foreign culture can be extremely difficult. Once you understand what is considered respectful and what is not, making sure that your brand aligns with those cultural norms and values is key to your success. The top global brands are ones who stick to their brand image while accepting some degree of local responsiveness. For example, McDonald’s and Coca Cola. Both brands use the same logo, the same promotions, and the same advertising and style across their different markets but they both are locally responsive to some degree. McDonald’s changes its products to local flavors and tastes. Coca Cola is a little different. For instance, when they entered India, they acquired a similar brand called “Thumbs Up!” that is extremely successful to this day.
Know how your brand translates
Language is a huge part of our communication. Sure, you can display your brand properly through images and products, but to be truly successful, you must understand the target market’s language. Many companies have missed the mark on this step in a huge way. In China, Pepsi expanded with the slogan “Pepsi brings you back to life,” but didn’t realize that it translated to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” Another huge faux pas in the Soft Drink Industry was when Coca Cola was expanding to the Middle East, they had three pictures from left to right. The first was of an exhausted man in the desert, the second of a man drinking Coke, the third picture was of the man completely refreshed and energized. What Coca Cola failed to realize is that Arabic is read from right to left.
Find good business partners
Finding a strong local partner can be instrumental to your success when expanding into a foreign country. Their knowledge of the country’s culture, consumer behavior, and supply chain is extremely valuable to your brand. By partnering with a company that shares your same vision and goals, your company can be extremely successful is very little time.
Although global branding can be a huge obstacle for companies looking to expand internationally, a few have done an excellent job of maintaining their brand image throughout the globe.
Redbull – Redbull does a fantastic job expanding internationally, by hosting extreme sports events while promoting their product. Not only does this gain attention of their target market, but it also gets the country exposed to the “Redbull lifestyle.” In addition, Redbull maintains consistent unique packaging throughout each of their international markets.
Dunkin Donuts – Dunkin Donuts is near and dear to many here in the United States, but not many know that they have 3,100 stores in as many as 30 countries outside the US. While they may serve boston creme doughnuts here, they alter their recipes to serve to the tastes of each of their international locations. Some notable doughnuts for us were Lebanon’s mango chocolate doughnut, Korea’s grapefruit coolata doughnut, Russia’s dunclairs, and China’s dry pork and seaweed doughnuts.
Nike – Nike’s careful selection of international sponsorships has gained them success globally. For instance, their partnership with Manchester United helped them achieve great popularity in the soccer market, as Manchester United is a beloved favorite of many Barclay’s Premier League fans.
These three strategies got us thinking. Much like Porter’s three generic options for strategic positioning, expanding internationally can be thought about in a similar way. For instance, companies like Redbull or Starbucks will maintain a consistent image throughout each of their global markets. With the help of heavy advertising, great success can be achieved! Other companies like Dunkin Donuts or Dominoes will change their product to meet the preferences of their target markets. Although their product is changed, they will still maintain their distinctive competencies. Lastly, companies like Nike will use local celebrity power to boost their brand. This is not to say there are not other ways to expand internationally! For example, H&M’s secret to success is to improve their online experience.
When branding globally, it’s key to understand not only a company’s culture, but their language. Below we investigate seven different marketing blunders that could have been avoided with a more careful approach toward the studying of their target country’s language and culture.
- When Pepsi entered the Chinese market it launched with the slogan ‘Pepsi Brings You Back to Life’. Unfortunately, the company failed to realize that the phrase had been translated as ‘Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave’. Not an ideal blunder in a country where reverence for ancestors is an important part of the culture.
- When entering China, Coca-Cola first rendered their name as Ke-kou-ke-la. To Coca-Cola’s dismay, many signs had been printed until they realized the phrase could be translated to “bite the wax tadpole,” or “female horse stuffed with wax,” depending on the dialect. Coke eventually found a decent phonetic equivalent, “ko-kou-ko-le,” which can be loosely translated as “happiness in the mouth.”
- Electrolux, a Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer, forgot to do their homework when entering the American market. In one of their ad campaigns, they used the slogan “nothing sucks like Electrolux,” not realizing the meaning in American slang.
- When the now defunct Braniff airlines decided they wanted to appeal to first class customers, they created a campaign to promote their leather upholstery in Mexico. Unfortunately the tag line ‘Fly In Leather’ literally translated as ‘Fly Naked’.
- Schweppes Tonic Water, when launching their product in Italy, translated their name into Schweppes Toilet Water.
- The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, “Salem—Feeling Free,” got translated in the Japanese market into “When smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty.”
- Coors Light’s ad campaigns are highly popular and admit I get a kick out of watching their goofy commercials. Coors decided they would use the same popular slogan, “Turn it Loose”, in Spanish to catch the attention of the Hispanic population. It just so happens that in Spanish this slogan translates to “Suffer from Diarrhea”. Ouch, that one hurt. Something as simple as a language translation can quickly kill an ad campaign.
A big portion of Global Branding is product development. McDonald’s, as a global firm, is the king of shaping their product toward their targeted market. In the video below, we get to watch American’s reactions to McDonald’s India. The outcome is quite interesting.
Chicken Maharaja Mac – Note how some of the main comments were regarding the choice of protein and spices. In the Hindu religion, cows are a sacred animal, making the typical American beef patty a bad choice for entering India. Some of the Americans reacted to the “orange sauce” as having a distinct flavor that they couldn’t quite place.
McAloo Tiki – Many Indians are vegetarian, so potato is quite often used as a substitute for meat. In general, the Americans noted that they couldn’t discern the flavor profile of this sandwich. One American even noted the heavy amount of onion used in this sandwich.
Spicy Chicken Wrap – This McDonald’s India dish is the most similar to America’s menu. The importance of maintaining your brand image must come through in your products. Although many of the reactions contained comments about the elevated spice level of this dish, they definitely noted that the wrap was “American sized” and most likely to be served on the McDonald’s America menu.
McSpicy Paneer – This sandwich is derived from a heavily spiced Indian cheese dish called Paneer. One of my favorite Indian dishes is called Shahi Paneer, which is this cheese in a tomato based curry sauce. The patty here is made of this cheese, which most Americans would find unusual.
Our Comments – Overall, we think that McDonald’s does a great job in developing their product to cater toward the Indian market. A huge part of culture is food, so being able to change to adapt to different culture’s foods is key in McDonald’s Global Branding strategy. Not how the advertising doesn’t change at all. One of our favorite comments from this video was “I still love how they put the Mc in front of everything.” It’s important for McDonald’s to stick true to their branding even after changing their product.
The question of how to be an American is no longer asked on Reddit and Yahoo or answered in the halls of Congress. This question has become better dealt with in the Super Bowl media center and the boardrooms above Madison Avenue. Likewise, the social, cultural, and political intersection of the United States is no longer to be found in Times Square or out on Route 66. It is wherever the Super Bowl is being held. Yes, the NFL shield has become the most enduring, recognizable symbol of America’s greatest assets, values, and traditions. It is one of the very few sports that are so deeply woven into the fabric of American culture. No wonder why it has become a cottage industry for media companies beside Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Intel’s 2017 Super Bowl commercial featuring the New England Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, was a very interesting one, at least for two marketers who hold branding near and dear to their hearts.
Intel used the Super Bowl as a medium of broadcasting their message to the entirety of America, shaping their commercial toward the wants of a classic American. By making Tom Brady look epic doing normal, everyday activities, Intel has essentially conveyed the message that its product will do the same for the viewer and anyone who purchases. This is the staple of the American Dream.
View the commercial here.
“As if Tom Brady needed any more help looking amazing…” the video caption said. Intel presented the four-time Super Bowl champ (five-time champ now) apically brushing his teeth, whipping up a batch of pancakes and eating one off the floor. Making the QB look heroic doing everyday “boring” activities proved that with Intel 360° Technology, you can make anything look epic. Literally anything. That’s the story the tech brand was telling in its 5 million dollar ad. “People typically show the athlete in the uniform and on the field, we wanted to do something different. We’re making these everyday things look heroic and interesting because that’s what our technology does. The idea is, if we can make him look epic brushing his teeth, wait until you see how we can use the technology in the game.” said Steve Fund, SVP and CMO at Intel.