Building a strong brand requires a significant investment of your time and resources. Building an international brand is exponentially more difficult.
Robert Azuayi a business administration professor at SMC University in Denmark points out that companies often need to implement a different branding strategy in every geography they operate. Unfortunately, brands face a multi-tiered challenge while they strive to reach customers in different markets:
- Understanding the unique factors that drive buying decisions
- Aligning themselves with trusted brand ambassadors
- Conveying their message in a language that local customers can understand
- Listening to feedback of customers in every market
Listening to customers in different markets is one of the most important parts of an international branding strategy. It's also one of the most overlooked.
Only 24% of brands engage in social listening. Among the brands astute enough to pay attention at all, most fail to monitor discussions at the local level.
This is a big mistake, because customers in different regions may have very different perceptions of your brand. Making sure your branding strategy is working in different markets is crucial. You need to gauge customer feedback to identify branding deficiencies and rectify them.
Social Media Monitoring for International Brands
Monitoring activity on social media is one of the most effective ways to understand customer views of your brand - this is true whether you're operating in a single market or serving every continent.
Social listening is more difficult for international companies. Here are some tips to help.
Be Prepared for Distinct Branding Challenges in Every Country
Paul Hoang, an author of Business Review, points out that brands face unique challenges in every geography. Brands need to tailor their marketing approach to local customs.
Hoang lists a few examples of branding complications in different countries. In most countries, for example, the color white signifies innocence and purity, however in China and India, it symbolizes death. A brand that uses white in its logo may have problems marketing to customers in those countries.
Of course, international brands should do their research ahead of time to avoid such issues, however they'll inevitably encounter thousands of subtle, unforeseeable issues.
Gerber is a perfect case study to learn by. They tried selling baby food in South Africa with the same labels they used in the United States. Sales were very low. Derrick Daye explains why.
"When the problem was investigated, brand managers discovered why the baby food wasn't selling. As many people in Africa are illiterate, people generally expect labels to visually portray the contents of the package. Cute babies were not very appetizing."
The only way to identity and respond to them is to listen to customer feedback in every region.
Monitor Your Brand in Different Languages
Most companies only monitor mentions of their brand in their native language, which is only effective while you're serving markets that only use your own language. If you're selling your products or services to a multi-lingual audience, you need to monitor your brand in every language your customers use.
Use Location Filters and Look for Patterns
Many brand monitoring tools have location filters and it's important to leverage them for every market that you serve.
Assimilate information on all regions and start looking for parallels. You want to determine how customer views of your brand vary in each market.
Compare Feedback Against Your Regional Branding Strategies
Too many brands focus on whether or not their customers have positive views of their brand when they should be focusing on whether that feedback indicates that their marketing strategies are working.
Keep in mind that your branding goals are probably different in every country. While listening to customer statements on social media, always compare how it measures up against those branding goals.
Social Listening Tools for International Brands
There are a lot of social media monitoring tools, and some are better suited for international brands than others. Here are three worth looking into.
Brand24 is a social monitoring tool that aggregates brand mentions in real-time. Unlike many other social monitoring tools, Brand24 enables you to filter by language. It currently supports 18 different languages.
Brands can also use Brand24 to look for brand mentions used in conjunction with a particular country or city, so they can get a sense of how customers in different regions view them.
Another benefit of Brand24 is that it offers very detailed social insights. This can help you see how your overall social media presence stacks against competitors.
BrandWatch is another brand monitoring tool that offers its features in different languages. They support their functionality in 27 languages, which gives you access to more customers, however, the features aren't quote as extensive as Brand24. They primarily focus on tracking brand mentions on Twitter and local websites.
However, BrandWatch does enable you to filter social media activity by continent, country and city.
Synthesio dubs itself the "Leading Global Social Listening Platform." In addition to enabling you to filter social media mentions of your brand by location, Synthesio also allows customers to segregate customers by age, gender and other demographic data.
Social listening is the key to building a sustainable brand, and it requires a lot more discipline and a more detailed analysis when you're trying to reach customers on a global scale. It's important to outline your branding objectives and use the right social monitoring tools and strategies to implement it effectively.