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Branding across cultures: Is your message consistent?

While reading Joe Kutchera's Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content, we were intrigued by something he wrote about personal branding and trying to keep your brand consistent and easily recognizable in other countries and among Spanish-speaking consumers in general. He mentions Chuck Whiteman, Senior Vice-President of Client Services at Motion Point, a company that offers website translation, hosting and localization. Chuck says, "By approaching multiple markets and languages correctly, it's possible to save a lot of time and money in the ongoing deployment and management of global websites." Both Joe and Chuck stress that organizing one's manpower in a way that will allow for one's brand to be consistently recognizable and accessible in various languages and markets allows for consumers to travel through your different pages or websites (depending on if you have a separate website for each language or if it is all maintained within one site) and obtain the information they wish to find.

We recently completed a Brazilian Portuguese translation of a website for a local business that offers educational products. The company already has its website translated into Spanish, Czech and French. Portuguese, especially Brazilian Portuguese, was a great move on their part, as the Brazilian economy is steadily growing. The company's easily accessible website does not send consumers or potential clients to a separate site, but rather, it allows the visitor to choose his/her language easily and read the information in his/her language.

Since this company is in the business of educational products, we suggested that it look into other languages as well, especially those of countries whose educational system is well-supported and recognized as being top-notch. Another thing this client might consider is the fact that translation of the site makes it somewhat localized for the foreign-language client, but not completely. One of the main devices on its Home page is a short instructional video with a woman speaking about the products this company has to offer. I suggested that the business look into creating similar video segments in the other languages found on its site to create a more globalized feel for its products. This would keep the foreign-language client more engaged in the product, as well as promote the brand by using more than one medium.

We see companies doing this all the time--expanding into new markets and creating a site that will attract its potential consumers who speak languages other than English as their first language. But what about consumers right here in the U.S. who immigrated recently or grew up speaking another language at home. Do your site and brand effectively attract such consumers? Do you take advantage of the possibilities that your brand could have in other languages and cultures? Do your employees and marketing teams work together to connect your pages/sites so that they are easily accessible to clients?

Let us know what you think about branding across cultures, and if you're interested in localizing and translating your site or marketing materials, contact us!

Global Marketing Starts with You

A client sent us the text from her company's website this week to be translated from English to Brazilian Portuguese. Their site is already translated into Spanish, French and Czech. It seems that they want to market their products to buyers in Latin America, specifically Brazil at the moment. Well, of course they do. Right now, Brazil has one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Agriculture is such a major industry that many of my own students study Portuguese in order to take classes or get jobs there. It makes sense that many companies are now jumping on this bandwagon and getting their sites translated to market in Latin America and to U.S. Latinos.

We're currently reading Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content by Joe Kutchera. Joe mentions that many major corporations are missing the point about putting their sites in Spanish and localizing them to reach out to Spanish-speaking markets. It's not to reach those outside our borders, as much as those who are already here. The spending power of Latinos in the U.S. is huge right now--and continuously growing. As for Portuguese, Brazilian immigrants are another quickly-growing population in the U.S. Besides all the industry in Brazil, we have plenty of Brazilians among us here.

So, why not translate your site into Spanish or Portuguese? It makes complete sense. However, besides the translation we'll provide for them, this company must realize the need for localizing their site, or making it culturally acceptable and marketable to these consumers so that they will feel a connection to the company and its products. Translation is only a small piece of the puzzle. Building one's brand in order to attract foreign (or domestic) markets is an even larger piece of the pie. How can a company build a connection with a group of customers who speak a different language? They have to get to know this group. Is this population typically very warm and outgoing, or are they more reserved and keep to themselves? Sure, there are stereotpyes about cultures, but they do sometimes ring true, especially when it comes to how to market to consumers' emotions.

That's what it's all about. Emotions. We mentioned Starbucks in a recent post and how Starbucks is good at playing on the emotions of its customers in order to get them to come back. How do you know what emotions to target in a certain population? You have to find out what is important to this group. Is it family and friends? Or finances and succeeding in the work place? Is it colorful artwork and exciting images, or clean lines and more serious visuals? Is it a combination of both?

This is where working with a localization company comes into play. You can't just pick up on these characteristics in one day. You need to consult those who do this for a living. Don't think that you know exactly what your customer is looking for because you sell your products every day. Be aware of resources that will help you work on your brand while marketing to populations that speak other languages and you will find that you, too, are going to experience this other culture. And hopefully, you'll make some money doing it! Give us a call!!

For more information on Joe Kutchera's book, click here.

Branding in a Cyber World: Get on Board!

We'll be the first to admit that branding is fascinating. Lately we've read a lot in the news about branding for businesses, especially with the changes that Starbucks has made to its logo and product offerings. How many times has Starbucks made a slight change in its logo through the years, even changing the colors a bit? The symbol of the siren has only changed slightly, making it recognizable throughout the world. Today, we read that Starbucks is now allowing customers to buy their beverages and products by using their gift cards with an app on their smart phones. Although Starbucks is even starting to offer wine and beer at some locations (believe it!), it seems that the main branding trademark of Starbucks has not changed at all. The company still plays on an emotional connection with its customers. Holding that cup of coffee makes us feel cozy and warm in the winter, while shopping with a latte in your hand makes you feel like the chic shopper that you are. How can a single cup of coffee that you might be able to brew yourself at home make you feel that way? It's the branding logic of Starbucks, and it's not going anywhere for a while!

So, now that Starbucks has jumped on board with the new app feature for purchasing their products, why not the rest of us? Sure, we market translation, interpreting and language instruction for a living. But how can we reach more people through this cyber world and still relay our personal brand to our customers? Everyone loves (or needs) coffee, but not everyone needs a document translated to get themselves through the day. Our take on it is the way you treat your clients. We try to be as ethical as possible in dealing with our clients. We try to get them a translated document back early, if we're able. The other side of the coin is not actually the services you render, it's the way you treat the people who are your customers.

Again, we reference Starbucks. And no, they aren't paying us to promote their business. They just have it down. For the most part, they have friendly baristas who make beverages in a timely manner. They have light music playing and soft couches and easy chairs for you to sit and relax or work. They have outlets throughout the store for you to plug in your laptop or cell phone. You can spend endless hours with friends chatting away or working on your computer (especially now with their recently free Wi-Fi connection). Then, if you need a refill, just take your cup back and get one within a few minutes. Instant gratification and little work involved.

So, making your customers feel like they don't have to work that hard to get the quality service they need will keep them coming back. We recently had a customer who emailed us on the weekend to add something to his translated document. It could have waited until Monday, but he had a meeting with his boss the following week, and we knew he needed it. We took a few minutes to take care of the changes he requested, and as easy as hitting the "Send" button, he was a happier client.

We took a personal branding test once, and most of the people who responded (clients and friends) said that we are easy to work with and efficient. So, find out what your personal attributes are and run with them! Use the cyber world as a tool in helping you to continue using them to the best of your ability. If it's simply the way you talk to and treat your clients, what better way than in your emails to them? Make sure they know how much they matter to you.

Use the cyber world to your advantage. Obviously, that's the way things are going these days.