Avoiding Global Branding Mistakes

If you have decided to take your brand global, then there are a few things to greatly consider beforehand in order to avoid major international marketing mistakes. There have been many instances where companies choose to take a specific product or message international but it ends up failing.

A couple of examples of these types of mistakes include:

American Motors: In the 1970s, they named one of their cars the Matador without realizing that the word “matador” in Spanish translates to the word “killer.” It is easy to say that this name was not particularly appealing to people in Spanish speaking countries.

Ford: When Ford entered Belgium, they wanted to highlight the car’s excellent manufacturing so they launched a campaign that was supposed to say “Every car has a high-quality body.” However, once it was translated it actually said, “Every car has a high-quality corpse. Not really the idea you want to put into your customers’ heads.

KFC: When KFC opened its first restaurant in China in the 1980s, they wanted to continue to use their famous slogan “Finger-lickin’ good.” However, once translated, their motto turned into “Eat your fingers off.” This mistake did not hurt KFC too severely as it now has more than 5,000 restaurants all throughout China.

Here are a few tips to ensure that you do not follow in these awful footsteps:

  1. Identify who you are targeting with your marketing strategy and modify it accordingly. You will need to consider language, culture, visuals, gestures, and trends.
  2. Localize your content instead of directly translating the language. Localization for each country or region is crucial to communicate nuance, which is often the basis of positioning and taglines.
  3. Consider the medium of communication when creating a global marketing strategy. Knowing which social media platform to use, for example, is essential when trying to reach a specific international audience.
  4. Cross-reference your campaign with local experts before promoting it. This step will help to gain greatly needed insider oversight and feedback.
  5. Observe successful marketing ads in your target country. This could be a great tactic to help ensure efficiency for your brand in that market.

By following these essential steps, when deciding to go global, you can help lower the risk of failure. Not every market will be the same, but your ability to customize and adapt is what will ensure success no matter where you enter next.

Turning Starbucks Into a Successful Brand

Background

Starbucks’ global expansion has been extremely rapid as well as strategic. It’s first international store was opened in Tokyo in 1996, with the UK following in 1998. The company finally opened its first Latin American store in Mexico City in 2002. The brand’s global reach increased to cover Russia in 2007 and then Vietnam in 2013. When they opened stores in Panama in 2015, they reached the milestone of achieving 99% of ethically sourced coffee. Today, the company has more than 26,000 stores throughout 75 countries and is expected to keep its growth momentum in the coming years.

Brand Philosophy

Ever since it’s early days, Starbucks has thrived to be what they call the ‘Third Place’ which is a place somewhere between work and home but also to build its brand identity by offering its customers a relaxing and delightful experience. Starbucks has also built its brand on matters that some would consider out of the box, by consistently defying conventional wisdom.

Unlike other companies, Starbucks chooses not to advertise aggressively. Also, Starbucks does not make cost-cutting a dominant trait of theirs. They choose to emphasize non-routine procedures in order to create excitement among their staff instead of trying to streamline procedures. In addition, Starbucks decided to make their employees partners by offering them stock options and health insurance when a lot of other companies did not. These are just a small list of things that they have done to define the company’s intention to go against the norm.

Rather than relying solely on quantitative market research, Starbucks chooses casual and more informal chats with their customers to capture overall mood and gather valuable feedback. Clever and unique ways of understanding their customers have helped build their brand into the global icon that they are today.

Starbucks has been rather successful in focusing their customer’s attention on the quality of their experience rather than the price of their products. The company operates with strong attention to detail and focuses on ensuring that the customer experience is consistent across all of its stores.

Another major pillar in its brand philosophy is to be a responsible and ethical company. This pillar revolves around, ensuring that their purchasing practices are trustworthy as well as creating opportunities through education, training, and employment. They have also initiated many programs to help reduce its environmental footprint through energy and water conservation and recycling.

Brand Strategy

Branding is one of Starbucks’ strongest elements in their strategy. They have invested a lot to create a standardized look and feel for its stores, merchandise, and drinks. The Starbucks siren logo is one of the most recognizable logos in the entire world. The global expansion strategy has an objective or recreating the Starbucks experience in its stores no matter where on the globe.

The brand strategy focuses on the detail of the experience that takes place in every store. This idea has been a cornerstone of their philosophy and values since the very beginning. For its stores, Starbucks has always embraced stunningly appealing and unique designs. They have even created stores out of unused shipping containers. The interiors of the stores are continuously updated with artistically appealing materials, lighting arrangements, etc.

The company’s brand strategy has continued to evolve, and they have taken advantage of new customer engagement platforms. Starbucks owns a website called mystarbucksidea.com, where customers are invited to leave ideas for the company to expand and improve its products and customer experience. The brand also has a significant social media presence. This presence is driven by the need to better engage with its customers. Starbucks also wants to be visible on platforms where their target or future customers spend a lot of time on, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The brand also invests a lot in mobile marketing. Starbucks developed a Starbucks app for paying for products, tipping baristas, as well as earning and redeeming rewards. The result was an increase in customer engagement, reflected by a 20% increase in Starbucks Rewards member spend.

Starbucks has shown a lot of growth over the last couple of decades, with no slow down in sight. They will undoubtedly continue to evolve and adapt to fit their changing customers’ needs over time. The success that Starbucks has had in the food and beverage industry is something to marvel over. The company’s brand philosophy and brand strategy are what sets them apart from the competition and it will forever be a key driver to their success.

What Movie Marketers Can Teach Us About Social Media

Today’s top movie studio executives use a four-lever approach to predict the success of a film: capability, marketability, playability, and buzzability. These pillars look to previous trends to indicate how a given project will perform—and what audiences may seek it out.

Although movie marketing is a much lengthier (and costlier) process than planning an Instagram post, understanding the framework behind these decisions can fundamentally improve the way your brand executes its social media strategy. Specifically, the overarching story behind it.

Defining the Pillars

Here is an overview of the four factors movie marketers must consider before a story is green-lit:

1) Capability: A concept study. The earliest measurement of a given property’s potential. In this phase, a studio will decide whether to commit tens of millions of dollars to a project.

Who is the audience for this movie? How many of the four quadrants (male/female, 25+/25-) does it appeal to?

2) Marketability: A positioning study. Assesses the best strategic positioning for a movie, which is how the marketing campaign will present the film to the world.

What combination of genre & MPAA rating will yield the highest number of attendees?

3) Playability: A study that examines the level of satisfaction an audience derives from a movie. Occurs in post-production, before the film is picture locked.

How does the film perform in test screenings in various geographic areas? Do the jokes land? Are special effects believable?

4) Buzzability: A measure of critical response and social media influence.

How will people talk about the film online?

Applying the Pillars

As a social media marketer, you can use these strategies to create your proof-of-concept. A novice company make the mistake of copying innovative engagement strategies without taking the time to understand its unique brand image. These four pillars provide a framework that, when utilized correctly, ensures a brand’s digital story is told effectively—and to the optimal audience.

Video Advertising Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Yesterday

The first video advertisement was a 10-second Bulova Watches ad aired on July 1st, 1941 prior to a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Since then , TV evolved to being filled with mostly 30-second and 60-second long commercials during and between shows on every television network. Some of these ad slots are cheap during daytime television, others are during the biggest events in television such as the Super Bowl, and these ad slots can cost millions of dollars for 30 seconds of ad-space. All of us grew up with ad this format on cable TV, and had become accustomed to it. But are the 30 and 60-second advertisements still effective today?

Today

Today’s Television industry looks a lot different than it did a decade ago. Between 2010 and 2019, over 60% of Americans have ditched their cable subscriptions, starting with the younger generations. Cable has been replaced by the new subscription services, offering ad-free shows and movies for a flat monthly fee. So where did this leave advertisers going? As a result of this, rather than seeing video advertising on television, most people now see video advertising online on social medias. The most popular places for video advertising is on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. An important difference to notice between these social media companies and the cable television we grew up with is the attention span required. The most popular media outlets with young and young adult audiences today require a much shorter attention span than cable television does. As such, advertisements on these platforms also must adjust to shorter attention spans. Ads on these platforms generally run up to 30 seconds on average, but they only have about 1-5 seconds to get their point across or catch a potential customer before the viewer has the option to skip (and most often will). Unless it is non-skippable, as some YouTube ads are, any video that is 30 seconds or longer will likely get skipped and ignored by the viewer. The shortest ad slots available on YouTube currently are 6-second slots.

Tomorrow

The future of video advertising to millennials and younger generations will be quick 1-5 second ads. As toleration for ad interruption is declining steeply among younger audiences, I believe that the advertisements will become more brief and succinct than ever before. Rather than the 2 minute YouTube ads that are skippable after 5 seconds, in a year or two I would be unsurprised to instead see brief, impressionable video advertisements that are finished before the viewer would even have a chance to skip. The rise of the streaming platforms was just the beginning of a decreasing tolerance for long advertisement interruption by consumers. The recent rise of video sharing platforms such as TikTok also support this hypothesis. The videos on the app are generally shorter than most television ads. Even a 15 second ad between videos seems like a lot. In the future I see more video advertisements showing up on social media platforms, but the ads will become even shorter than they are today.

Takeaway

As the way people consume media continues to evolve, so does the most effective ways to advertise. The media that people are consuming has resulted in a shortening of attention spans, and a decrease in tolerance for ad interruption. This will continue into the future, and the way companies advertise will be continuously adapting to this.

Influencer Marketing in Today’s Climate

As discussed in a previous blog post, influencer marketing is one of the hottest growth areas in the field. Some speculated that consumers would get sick of the new fad and a “social recession” would follow.

With the pandemic, companies are looking for areas to save and marketing tends to be an area evaluated. From February to March, brand spending on Instagram influencers fell 24%. Furthermore, sponsored posts are down 85% on Instagram and 57% on Facebook. Beyond budget cuts, some companies have been criticized for being tone-death having influencers promote their lavish product during a pandemic, which coined the new phrase “pandemic shaming”.

There’s a reason why influencer marketing is a hot topic, the cost savings and effectiveness are game-changers (See my previous post “Influencer Marketing: The Next-Gen Marketing Approach”). In times of crisis, companies should do even more influencer marketing if they can. Below are some reasons why influencer marketing is the way of the future even during a pandemic.

Homebound

With many consumers stuck at home, this raises the potential reach of an influencer. As people adapt to life at home, many are using new forms of content. While TV production is down, streaming services, social media, and YouTube are becoming suitable alternatives. With everyone at home, it can be difficult for a company to put out new content. Influencers again can solve this issue, most are equipped with home studios making it easy to put out new content with the validation of a company.

Unique

Today, most advertisements revolve around a central theme of togetherness and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s as if large corporations are checking off criteria on what needs to be conveyed in a 30-second ad. This creates a sense of standardization in media. I grew tired of these ads after the first week (See my post on “Content Marketing” during COVID-19). Months have past and commercials remain the same. The benefit of influencer marketing is that it is unique. Brands can be creative and form a sense of community around an influencer.

Responsiveness

Another issue with generic commercial responses is that they rarely address a solution to help you in this time of need. Instead, it is recommended that a company monitors frequently asked questions about your company or industry. An influencer can quickly turn these questions into solutions that can be helpful and build loyalty.

Examples of Influencer Power during COVID-19

RB’s Dettol #HandWashChallenge | 18 Billion Views

P&G #DistanceDance | 15 Billion Views

L’Oreal & NYX #ButterGlossPop | 9 Billion Views

Conclusion

Influencer marketing is here to stay. It enables companies to be flexible and creative during this uncertain time. Influencers are inexpensive and can provide a unique and timely message to your customer base. Lastly, please let me know in the comments how TikTok works, it appears to be the next promising influencer channel and I do not understand it at all. 

The Role of Augmented Reality in Social Media Marketing

Over the past several years, marketers have discovered the value of integrating augmented reality (AR) technology into their social media strategies. From Pokémon GO and Snapchat to Facebook and Instagram—AR has quickly shifted from a novel development to an entirely standard feature on most mobile social media platforms.

As a brand manager, you may be wondering how augmented reality can benefit your business. By considering the following practices, you may be able to significantly enhance your brand value and increase sales through mobile engagement.

1. Try Before You Buy / Greater Sale Retention

Customers who are accustomed to making all purchasing decisions in-store will need extra reassurance before placing an order online. Using AR technology, they can digitally try on a pair of sunglasses—or even view an armchair in their apartment—to ease trepidations around online shopping. Meanwhile, a tech-savvy consumer with a habit of purchasing (and quickly returning) products online may make more long-lasting, substantiated decisions with guidance from an AR feature.

IKEA’s augmented reality app allows you to place virtual furniture in your living space

2. Increase Buzzability Through Branded Filters

Immersive promotional tools have capabilities far beyond Snapchat filters. Memorable brand experiences, such as the Jack Daniels’ virtual distillery tour, create value by setting the bar for creative storytelling in the AR medium. This type of feature is not meant to immediately drive purchasing behavior; rather, it keeps the brand relevant and strengthens its long-term image.

Jack Daniels AR experience / Image Credit: Tactic

3. Boost B2B Marketing

In B2B transactions, AR technology can significantly increase buyer confidence by allowing a firm to demonstrate value at early touch points and accelerate sales cycles. By showcasing products virtually, augmented reality allows buyers to easily visualize the features of a tool and how they could benefit their organization. This degree of interaction allows businesses to make decisions faster—and with greater confidence.

Three-dimensional equipment trial with AR technology

How do you think immersive experiences will expand in the aftermath of COVID-19?

4 Examples of Powerful Global Branding

Before the internet, only a select few companies succeeded in the global scope. However, thanks to the rise of technology and e-commerce, a lot more companies are capable of this shared success.

Building a global brand means a lot more than just translating a slogan into a different language. Only the most successful companies realize that messaging has to be combined with a true understanding of local culture and tastes. This tactic is often referred to as a ‘glocal’ strategy.

The following are some great examples of powerful brands:

Airbnb

Airbnb had one of the most difficult challenges to overcome when it first started the business: how could it convince people that staying in a stranger’s home would not be awkward or scary? They ultimately did a fantastic job at this because now the company has seen amazing global success. They currently operate in over 190 countries and counting.

The key to Airbnb’s strategy is localization. They have a dedicated localization department in every country that is responsible for making the website accessible around the globe. The localization department is also in charge of storytelling – an essential component in developing trust among hosts and guests.

The brand has also adapted a universal symbol as its logo. The Belo symbolizes ‘belonging’ no matter where you are.

Apple

Apple is without a doubt the most successful brand of our time. Every single company could learn a thing or two from Apple. They have really mastered the one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to their products. The iPhone design, for example, is identical regardless of which region in the world it is being sold.

However, Apple also understands when to put an end to the standardization. The customer service is perfectly tailored to suit local tastes and needs. Also, the content on Apple’s site is carefully translated and localized for international markets.

Coca-Cola

Probably one of the oldest players in the global game, Coca-Cola is still a major powerhouse in today’s world. The company has repeatedly adapted to the changing times in order to re-establish its brand with international audiences.

When the company first went global in the ’80s and ’90s, they tried to standardize their messaging as well as their products, but it did not work out so well for them. They faced major backlash from international markets that connected them with American imperialism. However, Coca-Cola reacted quickly and introduced their ‘think local-act local’ marketing strategy that was meant to increase local sensitivity.

Since that time, Coca-Cola has continued to grow and is still one of the world’s most recognizable brands. The key to their success was the focus on enduring and universal values such as ‘sharing’ and ‘happiness’ as well as product and messaging localization.

IKEA

Since its start in 1943, Ikea has become a globally recognized brand with stores all over the world. Their success can be attributed to the company’s universally appealing brand traits of low price, sustainability, form, function, and quality.

As with other successful global brands, Ikea really takes the time to understand its international markets. Although they main contain the same elements, room sets vary from store to store to meet the needs of local customs. For example, in Japan, Ikea will often feature a traditional Japanese floor covering called tatami mats.

Building a global brand is not easy but with it now being easier than ever before to enter international markets, it is something that companies can achieve. The main key is to find the perfect balance between global messaging and localized strategies.

Spotify’s Role in the Social Media Landscape

In today’s moment, social media users are inundated scrolling through their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. Chances are, your brand won’t break the noise. If you’re willing to get creative, the solution may be Spotify.

The music streaming platform is quickly—and discreetly—becoming a sophisticated advertising space. The service has 286 million users worldwide and can provide deep access to user behavior and insights. Here are a few techniques to consider:

Branded Playlists

Most Spotify users found their way to the platform in the pursuit of:

  1. Music and podcasts they already love
  2. Recommendations for new content, based on their unique taste

The platform is known for its remarkable ability to provide a constant, daily stream of curated content for every individual. You, too, can create the feeling of a personalized experience by organizing playlists that capture themes associated with your brand.

The beauty brand Glossier operates 30 playlists for 17,000+ Spotify followers

The COVID-19 moment illustrates the value of this strategy. At this time, people may not have the desire or disposable income to make nonessential purchases. Providing a comforting Spotify playlist is one of the easiest ways for your brand to preserve a positive relationship with your audience—and unlike traditional advertising, it’s virtually free to do.

The rise of “Work from Home” playlists and livestreamed content

Targeted Advertising

For a more standard advertising approach, your brand can create and manage ads through Spotify Ad Studio. The self-service platform allows creators to:

  • Build an audio campaign in ten minutes
  • Forecast impressions based on your target audience
  • Track and manage the results of your campaign

These advertisements are served to Spotify’s free subscription listeners (approx. 100 million users) in between songs. Like a traditional marketing approach, you can choose to direct your advertisement to a specific age, gender, location, genre listener, or device. These ads begin at $250.

The Podcast Revolution

In the past years, Spotify pledged to invest $500 million in podcasting. If your brand has an existing podcast or the resources (and a reason) to create one, this is a great way to leverage Spotify’s technical capabilities and wide audience reach.

To Review

Start simple. Create a Spotify profile for your brand and experiment with playlists. If your target audience engages, Spotify may be your new path to success!