In today’s connected world, businesses are no longer limited by geographic boundaries or (most) political borders. Whether yours is already an established global brand, or you are just starting to build your ‘going global’ strategy, effective communication with your existing or future international stakeholders and customers is one of the critical elements in your value chain. But what factors should you consider in your global communication strategy?
Well, it all depends on how you plan to reach international customers and achieve competitive advantage in national markets; in other words, on your overall go-to-market strategy.
What Pressures are You Facing?
Depending on the product or service your business offers, ‘going global’ may require adapting very different strategies based on the cost reduction and local responsiveness pressures.
Pressures for cost reduction can be particularly intense if:
- your firm produces or sells commodity-type products or goods that serve universal needs (when tastes and preferences of consumers in different national markets are very similar or even identical);
- your major competitors are based in low-cost locations;
- where supply persistently exceeds demand; and/or
- when your product or service consumers have considerable buying power paired with low switching costs.
When do local responsiveness pressures come into play? They arise when there are:
- considerable national differences in consumer tastes and preferences due to deeply embedded historic or cultural reasons;
- notable differences in infrastructure and traditional practices;
- differences in distribution channels (for example, “hard sell” marketing practiced in the U.S. will not bode well in Britain or Japan);
- political and economic demands imposed by host-country governments.
Based on where on the spectrum of cost reduction and local responsiveness pressures your business is located, you would choose an appropriate approach among four main strategies:
Regardless of your ‘going global’ strategy, language professionals interpreting, translating or transcreating your message must be finely tuned to your brand identity, must understand your underlying values and mission, in order to deliver the desired effect of your global communication to your international target audience.
How Does This Effect Your Global Communication?
Depending on your ‘going global’ strategy, one message may not fit all.
Global Standardization and International Strategies:
These two strategies call for a uniform culturally neutral message, using universal values, avoiding jargon, slang, idioms, or cultural expressions. Your message should be understood by all of your audience in whole and each audience member in part. It should not require “cultural translation”.
Going multilingual: Centralized or closely coordinated language services staffed with linguists skilled in cultural neutralization working closely with your marketing team may be a way to go. Facing high cost reduction pressures? Partner with a professional Language Services Provider (LSP) agency equipped with robust Translation Memory (TM) tools, which provide consistency of translated content and terminology, as well as significant cost savings through learning effects – the more you use it, the more you save.
Transnational and Localization Strategies:
Targeted message customized to each specific geography/market, using local values and cultural references, would work best for these two strategies. Focus on adapting, localizing your message with indigenous idioms, humor, references unique to the local culture; in other words, your message should appeal and be relatable to a specific local market, but may not be culturally appropriate or understood by a different national target audience.
Going multilingual: Language services staffed with professional linguists with first-hand knowledge of local culture and coordinated by regional subsidiaries may be a way to go. Facing high cost reduction pressures? Partner with a professional Language Services Provider (LSP) agency with an extensive global network of diligently vetted and pre-qualified linguists experienced in transcreation (translation with cultural adaptation) to save time and recruiting costs.
To enhance the integrity of your global brand through linguistically and culturally appropriate communication custom fit to your strategic objectives, consider partnering with the trusted language industry expert with over 25 years of global experience.
Learn how MasterWord can help both established and emerging brands find their global voice.
International Business: Competing in the Global Marketplace by Dr. Charles W. L. Hill, G. Tomas M. Hult. Mc Graw Hill Publishing, 11th Edition, 2017.