10 Best Practices for Global Brand Marketing

So, you want to go global with your products and marketing efforts, but don’t know where to start? We have a few tips you should consider adding to your roadmap of global brand marketing as you take your product from ‘here’ to everywhere.

When you start creating your slogan and brand, you think a lot about where you are now. The problem is that what works where you are now, may not work where you go later. Inevitably your company will grow, travelling across borders and cultures to open up new markets. As your campaigns cross borders, lingual and cultural barriers will arise to reveal serious challenges.

Here are a couple of, maybe a little extreme, examples of real challenges.

American Motors Company

The American Motors Company’s release of the Matador was a fairly unique blunder. To most of the world the word ‘matador’ may signify bravery or strength, great features to have in a car. Once they sent the car out to Puerto Rico the word took on a whole other meaning, as matador translates into “the killer,” not a popular name for a vehicle that would drive you around a country with a high rate of traffic fatalities.


Another marketing misstep was when Pepsi decided to push its “Come Alive! You’re in the Pepsi Generation” campaign abroad. That may sound like a fairly innocent statement, but it had an unfortunate lost in translation moment when the team that took if from English to Chinese made the mistake of changing it to “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back to Life.” In some cultures this may seem like a minor offence, but in China there is a deep respect for one’s ancestors, so it comes off as direly offensive to the more traditional populous.

These are only a couple of examples of how global brand marketing campaigns go awry. Are there steps that could have been taken to avoid these mishaps? Yes. And that’s why you’re here, to read up on the steps you can take to make sure that you avoid AMC and Pepsi’s mistakes.

It may seem smart to just keep it all in English and sell everywhere with your original slogans. However English is not the default answer – or language – to global brand marketing that we would like. Studies show that 75% of consumers would prefer to buy products in their native language, and only about 5% of people have English as their first language. And that makes sense. Imagine you are on a vacation in a completely different country where they speak a language you don’t know. Suddenly, you get a headache and you go to the store to buy painkillers. Even if you find a pharmacist to help you, you are going to feel much more comfortable purchasing a product where you can read all the ingredients and directions.

And as you saw with the Pepsi example, creating a localized marketing campaign is not just about translation. Instead of just typing your slogan into google translate, you actually need to have someone who understands the meaning. Does it still make sense? Is it culturally appropriate? Is it clever in that culture’s context? That someone who understands the meaning will be able to answer these questions and save your company’s global marketing strategy.

10 Best Practices for Global Brand Marketing

Names & Slogan

The name of your brand is important and it’s something that you need to be satisfied with for the rest of your company’s lifetime. It also needs to be something that can stay consistent across culture and language barriers. Will you keep it as is? Translate it into other alphabets? Translate it directly or phonetically? This is where localization comes in. You need a version of you brand and slogan that both makes sense and works in the countries you are heading to. Ensure it brings out the same feelings and values, not just the same sound. A localization expert is not just a translator, so they will ensure that your slogan will be well received no matter where it goes.


Let’s say you do the impossible and create the best slogan in the world. It translates well into every language and is super catchy. Your design goes up and it’s perfect. You’re just about ready for release. But you forgot one thing. You need to test the design in those different languages, and you realize that there’s not enough blank space for every language. While some languages, like Chinese, tend to run shorter in translations, others run longer, like German. This can cause trailing off, shrinking of text, and a lot of other headaches. We recommend you ensure there is enough space on your designs for every lingual translation you plan on using.

Create a style guide and glossary

Give your localization team background information on your brand in a style guide. Style guides are crucial in maintaining any brand identity within an organization, and a necessity for global brand consistency. A style guide, should explain basic things like fonts, logos and colors. We recommend adding an in-depth analysis of your values, mission and raison d’être so your brand is perceived the same across all domains. Giving your localization team access to the thought behind a slogan can inspire similar ideas in other languages.

Set the tone

The more you define what you want your brand to be, the easier it will be for your marketing team and localization engineers to carry the tone and style over. If you layout what tone you are looking for upfront, your team can help choose the best and most appropriate way of phrasing. For example, in English we only have one word for “you,” it could be used for 1 person or 10. In French, there is a word for singular “you” (tu) and a word for plural “you” (vous) used for different cases. Figuring out the significance in the plurality or formality of the statement in English is needed to introduce it into different languages.

A picture is worth a thousand – translatable – words

Images are important and have a way of eliciting an emotional response from the viewer. When you are selling a product, you want to be certain that your audience perceives your message the way you meant it. To do that, you need the right image for that cultural context, because the right image for one culture might not fit as well in another. For example, the dove is a symbol of hope and peace for most of the western world. But in Japan, that idea is much better represented by a paper crane. It is important to utilize culturally specific symbols and images when possible.

When in Rome

This might seem like a no brainer, but make sure you follow all of the laws and customs when creating a localized campaign. Every culture has a different comfort level with how one should look and behave in public. Make sure you have a good grasp on what would be appropriate for your target market before you create something.

Keep your potential customers in mind every step of the way

It’s not just about the images or making sure the language is correct. You need to make sure it all goes together to create the best advertisement, not just mimic your English version as closely as possible. Localization specialists will be able to help you create an ad that will appeal to the local market in ways you simply could not do on your own.


By now you have learned that creating this campaign is a multi-step, multi-faceted endeavor which lends itself to plenty of human error. If the budget permits, hire an editor to check that everything meets the standards you expect for your brand. When hiring localization specialist for this task, ensure they have experience in marketing localization so they are able to not just translate your ad for new languages, but also for new markets.

Track your history

Whether it’s approved phrases or incorrect use cases, it’s best to know it all. This way your team has a good case practice for every future campaign. Making a mistake once is understandable and often forgiven by your market. Making a mistake twice is less so, and may earn your business a bad reputation in markets where you’re seeking growth.

Budget smart

How many languages are you translating to? How many cultures are you localizing to? Make sure you ask the right questions and know which actions you’re taking so you set up the appropriate budget. You don’t want to spend too much, but at the same time you don’t want a product that’s only half way there in terms of localization. Planning appropriately will ensure a strong outcome for both your localization and your spend.

Global brand marketing is a big step to take for any organization, and the integrity of your brand and product should be handled well every step of the way. With these practices in your back pocket, you and your team will be ready to tackle the challenge of taking your product from ‘here’ to everywhere!

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