The Challenges That Come With Being A Global Startup
In a lot of cases, brands can transcend culture and become truly global. We see it most commonly with big franchises like McDonald’s, which has locations in 60% of the world’s countries—making it essential for them to have a chameleon brand that can adapt to different environments. But what about the Chinese tech companies and startups who have been on the rise in the past few years, can they too get to that global level? Or will the current political climate hurt their brands?
1. Penetrating a New Market
Similarly to when a startup wants to grow locally by appealing to a broader audience, increasing a brand’s reach abroad has a lot to do with what market you’re in. In contrast to industries that are local in their nature, the Tech space is quite homogeneous across different countries because of how the internet helped connect like-minded people. This notwithstanding, a startup aiming to penetrate a new market has to watch carefully if it has the appropriate visual and verbal language needed to make the jump.
Let’s take one of our previous clients as an example. Proto, a startup that offers AI-powered Natural Language Processing products, was ever since its inception focused on being a global brand. We had to appeal to a very challenging type of audience — one that changes from one country to another. As a result, both the verbal and visual communication of the brand needed to be clear and easily understood cross-culturally. This is what guided our process for creating what Proto is today, a company that is inclusive and shows no bias towards any particular language or culture.
2. Understanding Cultural Differences
A big part of your market analysis should be around the differences in people’s ideas, beliefs, and customs. No matter what you sell, you’re still selling to people. And to make that sales process easier, your brand has to communicate to your audience in a way they understand. I mean, things as little as the OK hand gesture that is commonly used in the west means something completely different in China.
Once you have an understanding of the differences between the culture of your current audience and that of the new audience that you will be trying to acquire, you will be in a better position to determine what facets of your brand will remain intact and which ones you will have to adapt to the new market. By going through every little detail, and ensuring that anything that could be obscure or even offensive to your new audience, you give your brand a much higher chance at finding a place in the minds and hearts of people across the globe.
3. The US-China Trade War
Donald Trump’s presidency will certainly be remembered for all of its controversies. One, in particular, is his way of attacking China, which during this trade war has undoubtedly caused harm for many Chinese brands. Most Americans have formed a negative opinion of companies like TikTok for example, especially now with the ongoing talks of it being forced to sell to a US company after alleged spying activity.
But Tiktok’s “sell-by” date keeps getting delayed, in fact, it was just extended by 15 days last week. As we all know, if a newly elected president is from the opposing party to their predecessor, they usually have very little regard for “deals” that were made before they got into office. Does this mean Tik Tok will get a pass when Joe Biden is president? Or will it just be banned completely?
In the end, these factors that we went over in this article are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more variables go into building a global brand, but the lesson to be learned here is that you have to start somewhere. Gaining people’s trust is not easy and requires honesty, transparency, and dedication, and for a lot of companies who expand globally to generate more revenue, their brand vision is rarely a part of the discussion.
Originally published at https://www.uniqium.com on November 23, 2020.