It’s a Small World. Is Your Brand Built to Travel?

Advances in technology have helped dissolve borders and make global exposure to brands almost unavoidable. Although instinctively this would appear to be an asset to any brand manager, the truth is that many factors need to be addressed in order to build a brand that is truly global. Here are 5 things to consider.


Cultural Differences Are Not Addressed by Translation Services

Different regions of the world have different needs, priorities, sensitivities and norms. These factors may shape the way concepts, language and visuals are implemented. Simply translating materials from one language to another will not allow the brand to conform to local markets most effectively and intuitively. Instead, the challenge is how to extend the brand in a manner that maintains its consistency but enables it to be applicable to the targeted audiences.


Country-Specific Regulatory Realities

Markets, even those that are geographically linked, cannot be addressed collectively. Although groups like the European Medicines Agency have been established to support the evaluation of drug candidates, many countries within the union have their own regulations, processes, reimbursement requirements and precedents. The key is having country strategies and teams that understand the nuances of each locale.


Everyone Has Their Own Experts
Be aware that practitioners often hold those key opinion leaders who are from their own country or region in the highest regard. It doesn’t mean that thought leaders from other parts of the world do not carry influence, but it is extremely important to cultivate practitioner relationships locally. These relationships can often be cultivated from sites where clinical studies have been conducted, but shouldn’t be limited to those physicians. Credibility and experience with the product are essential.


Know What You Have in Common
In addition to recognizing the differences that need to be addressed by country, which may or may not be partly guided by a product label or indication, it is equally important to appreciate the common attributes of your brand that are actually universal. These characteristics are sometimes high-level concepts (like providing hope through a new therapeutic alternative) while at other times are explicit features and benefits. These commonalities can often help bridge differences and help establish brand familiarity and loyalty.


One United Brand

It takes constant vigilance to assure that you have a single brand that resonates globally. Discern between what is a geographic necessity (either due to culture or regulation), and what is a loose thread that can lead to brand fragmentation. Degradation of a brand can result from internal organizational polities or turf wars between local and global brand management. It can also happen when you least suspect it if you’re not always cognizant of how your brand is being brought to life outside of your own backyard.


If you attend a conference or convention, chances are you will have practitioners from all over the world gathered in a single location. Will they all be able to identify with the brand the same way they would if they were not abroad? Learn from your targeted audiences by location. Understand their specific needs. Be knowledgeable about the regulatory landscape. And remember, regardless of whether it is a company, product, or service, today more than ever before, all brands are global.

by Jonathan D. Katz