Going International: Taking Your Brand Out of Your Home Turf

Right off the bat, know that your brand’s success in your own turf is no guarantee that you’ll make it in a foreign land. Even if you’re enjoying massive success, the rules of the game bend too far out that your brand can be outwitted and outgunned. And things could go south for your big name.

Truth be told, there needs to be a lot of due diligence in your approaches. To let you know, the biggest brands in American society, brands we hold dear in our hearts, have floundered in foreign markets. Take, for instance, Google. Who would think the mighty search engine, which accounts for a massive 92.05% share of the global search engine market, leaving Bing and Yahoo eating dust, would fail to penetrate a market. But it did. In China, it was outplayed by a local Chinese competitor Baidu which offered direct access to pirated media. And the list continues.

You need not lose heart, however. Far too often, there is always stiff competition from local brands. But it doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. Many American brands such as Apple fared well. Below are key takeaways from experts that could bring you there faster than you can dream of.

Hire Local Experts

Again, it’s all about the market. And as you have a distinct advantage when other players not from America compete with you on your home turf, local players have that same advantage when entering a foreign market. Knowing the local market is therefore key for your brand to excel.

From the onset, Google has had rough patches with the Chinese government. Coming from America, the online giant wanted freedom of speech and access to free information, top contentious points that got it in confrontation with the steadfast government authorities. Baidu being a Chinese brand, had a better understanding of their local market. That certainly gave it a head start in sharpening its search engine features to cater to Chinese users.

To offset such a local advantage, hiring local experts could help your brand succeed well in an international market. Commit to hiring local staff who has a deeper understanding of the culture and the business landscape.

Another glorious example of a failed infiltration is Walmart in Japan. Wanting to please Japanese consumers, the American behemoth, today’s biggest employer in the global scene, advertised its products as offerings of “Everyday Low Prices.” That branding didn’t sit well with Japanese buyers who equated low prices with low quality.

Maximize Social Media

In a sense, we’re all global brands, thanks to social media. What is happening in America can be broadcast to the world in just a few social media posts. And nobody may have perfected the art of social media influence than Apple.

Apple is a case of a successful international brand that started mainly by creating global demand. Buoyed by out-of-the-box marketing, Apple iPhones, for one, were brought by foreign buyers to their local market long before Apple ever set foot a single store in that country. Demand, in this sense, was so high it was the consumers themselves that paved the way for Apple to expand its reach. And the results are nothing short of phenomenal. If there was a store where people form long lines to buy a newly-launched product, chances are it’s an Apple store selling the newest iPhone iteration.

social media networks

In this regard, it’s always best to keep your image at home as a representative of your brand as possible, given the social media clout consumers can have. For instance, giving your office headquarters the best front-office look possible should be wise. And that should mean keeping your front lawn trimmed as it should be. Or, if it’s winter, hiring experts to factor in the timely removal of snow would be wise. By doing so, you boost your local image, which can be amplified worldwide in hundreds — if not thousands — of social media shares.

Be Flexible to Change

The markets are changing as we speak. Not being open to change and becoming a monolith can mean your brand will lose its clout pretty fast. Think of Hello Kitty dolls. If your only offering is an unchanging doll forever, then you could be undermining yourself every time you market.

It’s always best to be on the lookout for what’s working and what isn’t working. To note, what is good for one market may not apply to another. The best brands, therefore, are those who can make the most of these market changes and adjust accordingly.

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