Export Marketing: plan your international brand promotion

Export Marketing: plan your international brand promotion

(Mistakes in) finding an internationally accepted brand name

The meaning of export marketing

Export marketing involves the creation, documentation, pricing and promotion of an offering that will attract overseas customers and buyers. In most cases the offering will be made available and distributed through an overseas agent or distributor. Export marketing includes also setting up the right channels for payment.

The difficulty with export marketing compared to general marketing is that you have to take into account cultural differences, language differences and differences in payment systems and preferences. E.g. in Western Europe credit card payments are less common than in the United States.

For their export marketing, companies may hire an Export management company. Export sales is the step that mostly follows after the export marketing. Export promotion is more commonly used for the activities of nations to promote their product, rather than for local advertising.

The importance of a global brand

The brand of a company represents everything the company stands for. It becomes the label of the company’s values, services and reputation. Branding offers a competitive edge through differentiation. This makes it vital to create an effective international brand.

Since, choosing a company name, slogan or brand can make or break a company, one needs to be aware that certain brand names could have different translations in other countries. A great example of this is Mercedes-Benz. They entered the Chinese market with the name “Bensi,” which translates into “rush to die” in Chinese. Another branding failure was Pepsi’s slogan in China that translated as “Pepsi Brings You Back from the Grave,” instead of its original English idea : Pepsi Brings You Back to Life!

Choosing the right name

Branding for international distribution must be highly researched to assure that there are no duplicates or chances of potential mistranslations in other regions all over the globe. When choosing international brand names, you must go for simple, distinct, straightforward and familiar name options.

Aside from these, there are other factors to be considered to avoid mistakes in finding internationally accepted brand names:

  • When deliberating international brand names, you should pick names that fit the personality of your company
  • Choose names with the right connotations and appropriateness for all ages. Avoid mistakes like the IKEA product Redalen marketed in Thailand that means ‘getting to third base’ in the local language.
  • Shorten names as much as possible so that they’re easy to pronounce. If you decide to use acronyms, then select an acceptable and familiar name to the masses around the globe.

Brand name types

There’s always a history behind a name. Company brands are no different from humans. However, there are seven broad categories for naming international brands:

  • Some companies use the names of their founders as their brand names and slogan headers.
  • If you intend to be explanatory with your products and services, you can always opt for descriptive names.
  • Geographical names are popular among companies that plan to operate in a defined area. This can prove to be a problem if you plan to expand to other locations at a later stage.
  • Witty brand names may be attention catching to some customers who are familiar with your product range but prove to be irrelevant in the international market.
  • Using values and virtues for brand names i.e. Virgin, could be very effective - especially when it comes to advertising and promotional campaigns.
  • Some companies use fictitious names for their brands. There’s no real background or company history behind these because they’re original and creative. This, however, could create possible misinterpretations once the company expands overseas.
  • Apart from brand names, be cautious with campaign ideas and slogans when duplicating concepts in foreign lands. Eg: When Nike Even embedded a fire symbol on their line of shoes, which was a symbol for Allah in the Islamic content, it led to their company retracting their products and re-establishing the entire concept.
  • Some companies prefer to play on the safer side of branding and use initials as their labels. Although at times, this tactic could prove to be a difficulty when it comes to brand recall or differentiation.

A company’s name is everything, so to avoid lawsuits or humiliation, pick a name that is unique and widely acceptable in different nationalities and cultures.

For more information on international branding mistakes, read on international brand distribution research and brand name fails. Online research can also provide you with relevant tips to increase your brand’s popularity in a foreign country.

This entry in exports was updated on May 13, 2018 by Tanushka.