International Business Strategies

International Branding: Help Your Brand Transcend Borders

Learn what international branding is and how to adapt your brand for a global market to help build authenticity and open new streams of revenue.

Dominic Dithurbide's avatar
Dominic Dithurbide

October 17, 2022


What is International Branding?

International branding is the process of increasing business growth by establishing and building a brand identity within global markets. Businesses create their brand through advertising, media, website content, word-of-mouth, and interactions with products or services.

Global brand marketing involves defining your company’s personality and shaping how you want customers and the public to perceive your organization. This process aims to establish a clear image of your company and influence how it is viewed by others. It is crucial in determining how your organization is perceived by customers and the general public.  

Branding takes time and effort, involving naming products, creating logos, and maintaining consistent messaging across the business. Is all that effort worth expanding to international markets?  

According to research, the answer is “yes”. Around 45% of medium-sized companies generate more than 50% of their revenue from international markets. Additionally, having a strong brand can increase their revenue by up to 23%. 

3 Key Benefits of International Branding

Establishes New Revenue Streams

Expanding globally can be a simpler way to create a new source of income compared to local alternatives. When you look into new market expansion, you’re ultimately searching for opportunities to diversify your product or service portfolio. When you enter a new market, you need to adjust your business model for the operational variations in that country.

A market in one country may require completely different products and services than a market where you’re already established. Because of this, the methods of expansion associated with each market will also be different. Constructing and implementing an international branding strategy opens the potential to fill a gap in your revenue streams that you can’t achieve in your domestic market.

Solidifies Competitive Advantage

International branding helps build and solidify your competitive advantage. Competitive advantages create the opportunity for a new company to splash onto the market and disrupt the current hierarchy of industry-leading products. New places to grow your business represent new opportunities. You may have access to technologies, labor pools, or industrial ecosystems that are perfectly aligned with your organizational goals.

By entering new markets, particularly emerging markets, you can get a head start on your competition. If your competitors are not there, you can establish your brand as the top choice. This builds a global brand, giving your business a good reputation and an advantage in the local market. Over time, the company’s image and notoriety can continue to grow.

Enhances Brand Awareness and Authenticity

When you prioritize international branding, your brand becomes more authentic. Good global brand management helps more people see and understand your brand and what you offer. In fact, 88% of consumers identify authenticity as crucial when deciding what brands they like and support. 

For example, a brand that expands globally might emphasize its original values and unique story, ensuring that these elements are consistent across all markets. Consistency creates an authentic perception. Consumers in various regions value the brand’s commitment to its origins and core values. By maintaining its original ethos while adapting to diverse cultures, a global brand can strengthen its authenticity, making it more appealing to a global audience. 

How to Build a Global Branding Strategy

Step 1: Solidify Your Goals & Locations

Every aspect of your business starts with identifying the short and long-term goals you want to achieve, including a global branding strategy. That strategy, which should include company objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs), should be explored before taking any significant action. The most commonly used KPIs include revenue growth, profit margins, and customer satisfaction measurements.

Here are some critical questions to answer thoroughly as you map out a global branding strategy:

  1. Are you experiencing sustainable success in your domestic market?
  2. Is your brand image, vision, and identity well-defined domestically?
  3. Where are you planning to expand? Why? What data do you have to back up your expansion plan?

Step 2: Determine the Entry Strategy

Once you know the market you’d like to expand into and the goals you’re trying to achieve, you then need to decide how to enter the market with a solid global business expansion plan. There are four main international strategies that businesses typically follow. The branding strategy you choose depends on your business model, goals, budget, and limitations.

International Strategy

An international strategy, also called an export strategy, focuses on exporting products and services to foreign markets while maintaining a single production headquarters. Multinational companies make products in their home country and send them to customers worldwide, without focusing on local needs.  

Subsidiaries act as local channels that sell the products to the end-consumer. Large wine producers from countries such as France and Italy are great examples of international companies. When wine brands sell outside of their home country, the branding, products, and pricing stay the same. 

Global Strategy

International businesses sell the same product everywhere and try to save money by being efficient. A global strategy entails being highly centralized, and subsidiaries are often dependent on headquarters. Their main role is to implement the parent company’s decisions and to act as pipelines of products and strategies.

Global strategies have lower local responsiveness, but they prioritize global integration. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer can be considered global companies; those companies may make minor adjustments to their pharmaceutical offerings due to country-by-country regulations, but those offerings remain under the same corporate brand umbrella.

Multidomestic Strategy

A business utilizes a multidomestic strategy when it uses entirely different sales, marketing, and product strategies based on the specific countries in which it is operating. Rather than one global brand, there are many smaller, country-specific brands tailored to local tastes and local customers. Companies with multidomestic strategies prioritize local responsiveness, adapting their product offerings and brand to local preferences. This requires a higher amount of brand localization as well as more authenticity and appeal to the local market.

Transnational Strategy

Businesses that utilize transnational strategy operate with a central office in one country, coordinating local subsidiaries within international markets. This strategy combines the best of centralized decision-making while still allowing for scale in varied markets.  

Companies such as McDonald’s, Nike, and Coca-Cola use the transnational model. Famous global brands sell similar products worldwide. They also create special products for local customers. This is done to meet their preferences and cultural needs.

Step 3: Localize and Launch

Once you know your goals, the markets you plan to enter and your entry strategy, localize your content and brand to meet the demands of that strategy and begin building your international brand. First, develop your brand voice, identity, promise, values, targeting, and positioning in your local market to ensure success.  

Brand localization is the process of adapting a brand to appeal to a foreign market, including a comprehensive plan to address the target market’s language and cultural nuances. It adapts your brand to meet demand, including services/products, platforms, and marketing messages.  

Brand localization serves as an essential piece of the international branding puzzle but can’t stand alone. To fully bridge global markets, and take full advantage of the benefits international branding provides, your company needs to follow each of these steps. 

Examples of Successful Global Brand Strategies

Multidomestic Strategy: Unilever

Unilever is a British multinational consumer goods company that produces food, cleaning agents, beauty products, and personal care items, and sells them in 190 countries. The company needs to be close to local markets for its 400+ consumer goods brands. Local managers handle operations and manufacturing in each country, and the company is divided by product type.  

Some of Unilever’s most recognizable brands include Axe, Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Knorr, and Hellman’s. Their international branding strategy yielded a network of local brands that focus on the products that sell best in that particular sphere, such as Marmite in Australia versus mayonnaise in the United States. 

International Strategy: Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson takes a different approach to international branding. They have been producing motorcycles in the U.S. since 1903, and started exporting bikes soon after the founding of the company. Harley-Davidson competes in various country markets using an export strategy.

When Harley-Davidson sells motorcycles abroad, they don’t need to lower prices or adapt the bike to local motorcycle standards. The “Made in the USA” guarantee has been Harley-Davidson’s unique feature and a means of differentiation from its competitors. In 2021, almost 1,500 suppliers exported around 194,260 motorcycles  to Canada, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Most of Harley-Davidson’s bikes go to India, Vietnam and Lithuania.

Need Help Expanding Your Brand Internationally?

As customers, both new and existing, shape your brand and reputation in the global marketplace, it grows. Sometimes, to reach these international customers, the most effective method is website localization. 

You can test a new market by connecting with global markets in their preferred languages. This will help you determine if there is enough demand. Website translation and localization can take you a long way in the international branding process. 

The right translation and localization company, such as MotionPoint, works with you to standardize messaging across any international market and gives you the ability to customize brand elements (web pages, promotions, offers) in different languages. With superior translation and localization technology and an efficient international branding strategy, you can rapidly and successfully expand to new markets. 

Last updated on October 17, 2022
Dominic Dithurbide's avatar

About Dominic Dithurbide

Dominic Dithurbide is a creative, goal-driven marketing leader that’s dedicated his career to the translation industry. Dominic brings proficiency in global marketing, demand generation, and go-to-market strategies to MotionPoint’s marketing team.

Dominic Dithurbide's avatar
Dominic Dithurbide

Marketing Manager


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