How to best prepare your international marketing strategy

Developing a brand abroad is not something you can improvise. To successfully enter new markets, you need to take a number of steps beforehand. These will enable you to fully adapt your branding strategy in order to reach out to customers in the target countries. Here is Version Internationale’s advice on the subject!


Adapt your personas to your target market

Your brand image is how your audience perceives you; it means you need to define your target audience well. With this in mind, you’ve probably already created your personas, i.e. the typical profiles of your ideal customers. However, these personas have been created with a view to selling your product or service in your core geographical area. You cannot simply apply them to each target country since consumers do not necessarily have the same buying habits and behaviours. Cultural adaptation is therefore the key to a successful international marketing strategy. Even if it requires more effort on your part, it is important to determine the profile of your target audience in each geographical area where you plan to market your brand. More than the gender or age of your target audience, ask yourself what are their habits and motivations. Which social networks do they use? What hours do they work? What are their needs? Depending on your product or service, ask yourself the right questions for each target market to avoid the trap of a standardised approach and promote more sales conversions.


Adapt your visual marketing media

Now that you’ve defined who you’re targeting, you also need to rethink your marketing communication materials to engage with new markets effectively. Once again, you need to take into account the consumers in the target country and adapt the experience you plan to offer them. Work with specialists to redesign your visual identity if necessary (logo, graphic charter, layout, fonts, pictograms) according to the specifics of the target culture. For example, while the colour red symbolises good fortune in China, it is associated with mourning in South Africa. You can see why it’s so important to adapt your visuals to accurately reflect the message you wish to convey.

Redesign your brand identity and product

Do not assume that your brand platform will be the same for all target markets! Your mission, your vision, your values… everything has to be scrutinised with your personas in mind, for each country. You might even need to change your brand name if it means something negative in the target country. Blédina, the French leader in baby food, paid the price in Russia where Bledina is the vulgar slang for ‘prostitute’. Likewise, the Japanese optics brand Hypercon unsurprisingly failed to make a breakthrough in France, where “Hypercon” means “very stupid”. And don’t forget to adapt some of the features of your products or services to suit local habits, such as the units of measurement and currencies displayed on your website or e-commerce platform. For a more effective advertising strategy, you should also consider finding out which channels your target audience prefers so as to optimise your performance.


Translate your marketing content

Did you expect us to mention this sooner? The translation stage is, in fact, only the culmination of the previous steps. You can’t just create marketing content in your own language and have it translated to launch a serious international marketing strategy. However, you can contact your translation agency in advance to draw on its cultural and linguistic expertise. But let’s assume that you have applied our previous advice, and all that remains is to have your written content translated. This step is nonetheless crucial for your brand image, which could take a hit with every style error or misspelling. There are many infamous examples of these costly mistakes, including the Parker brand’s slogan extolling that its pens “won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. When launched on the Mexican market, the Spanish translation included the false friend ‘embarazar’, meaning ‘get pregnant’. The brand therefore endeavoured to sell its product in Mexico by making it clear it wouldn’t get its customers pregnant… an original approach to say the least!


Transcreation: the ally of a successful marketing strategy

As you’ve just read, a bad translation can have disastrous consequences in marketing. So, don’t hesitate to use transcreation if your content warrants it, for example in the case of a slogan or an advertisement. The term ‘transcreation’ is a mashup of ‘translation’ and ‘creation’. The process involves writing and translating marketing content by focusing on the message and often moving away from the source text. It allows you to dispense with the form and concentrate on the content, so as to remain fully faithful to the brand image you have defined. It’s definitely another string to add to your bow for an optimal international marketing strategy!


We hope these tips will guide you in developing your global branding strategy. Remember, cultural adaptation needs to be the focus of your approach to avoid embarrassing mishaps.


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