Branding and packaging: local versus global

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Global branding depends on well known names, recognisable logos and mass marketing strategies. Local branding however targets specific populations using diverse marketing techniques and can go as far as changing product names.

A balance between global and local is, in the current market, essential to branding success. Companies who are exporting internationally need to ensure that all of their marketing stays faithful to their brand ethos. However, many businesses are increasingly recognising that some degree of localisation is necessary for their brand to be relevant and successful — especially if their industry is competitive.

But how do companies decide on the correct branding for their products when marketing them in different countries? And how is packaging affected when products are branded locally or globally?

Minding your language

It’s important to convey your brand message; but it’s no use if your particular message doesn’t translate, or excludes potential consumers.

When Coca-Cola was first exported to China, it was mistranslated into Chinese as ‘bite the wax tadpole’. Although retailers were responsible for this blunder, rather than Coca-Cola itself, this example illustrates the need to take great care when deciding on names and slogans that will appear on packaging abroad.

Occasionally, there is a need for product information to be displayed in more than one language. For example, Canada is a bilingual nation. English and French are both spoken there in certain regions, so both languages must be used on packaging.

Being inclusive is an incredibly important aspect of fostering customer relationships, so it’s vital to take great care when deciding how to lay out all the necessary information. Is a smaller font size needed, for example, so that information can be provided in two languages within the available space? The little details can make all the difference in how your brand is viewed by the customer.

Custom printing options on various types of packaging, to create the perfect layout which contains your product’s essential information, should be a consideration for all brands.

Consider the colour

Colours are crucial: they are symbolic and have different meanings in other cultures. The familiar purple packaging used by Cadbury’s chocolate in the UK, for example, was inappropriate for Taiwan, where purple is associated with poor quality.

Another colour that can be interpreted differently is green. In Iran it symbolizes success, whereas in China it denotes disgrace, and in Egypt, it is prohibited from being used on packaging at all, as it is the colour that was worn by certain religious leaders.

It’s essential that you conduct research into colours and, if necessary, change the colours used on your packaging to ensure that the product sells in the country you are exporting to. Custom printing services can tailor color schemes to suit your requirements, before they are printed on cardboard boxes. Consider, too, paper carrier bags that are available in a variety of colours, so any potential cultural misunderstandings can easily be avoided.

Size for success

There’s more to cultural considerations than languages and colour schemes. When expanding your business, it’s also important to consider people’s purchasing habits in the country to which you are exporting your product.

In the UK, people buy mayonnaise in jars. However, Chileans consume the largest amount of mayonnaise per head in Latin America. So, in Chile, mayonnaise is sold in large bags with spouts.

KFC’s practice of serving its fried chicken in buckets wasn’t appropriate for Japan. Instead, large boxes were used so that the chicken could be laid out in a single layer. The boxes also had ribbed plastic bottoms to trap grease.

In Britain and many other countries, people are accustomed to buying toothpaste in a tube. However, in rural India, where incomes are low, Colgate sells its toothpaste in small sachets.

Think carefully about whether a completely different packaging option is needed, or whether you can retain the same type of container, and scale it up or down as appropriate. There several types of packaging in different sizes, such as plastic salad boxes, cardboard boxes, and gift packaging — so you can balance brand consistency with cultural requirements.

What is the most effective packaging for your brand?

Clearly, when it comes to packaging, one size doesn’t fit all. When you’re expanding your business by exporting, the most effective packaging will be something that is sturdy enough to withstand the necessary shipping and warehousing, and offered in sizes that people will be willing to buy. The colour scheme used must have positive cultural connotations, and the information printed on the package — including, of course, the brand name — must be neither confusing, nor offensive.

To this end, research is vital. It enables all of these factors to be incorporated in packaging design. However, if something isn’t quite right, there’s no need to worry about damage to your reputation, or vastly increased costs. The growing use of digital print technology means that alterations can be made quickly, easily, and inexpensively.

When balance between global and local branding is achieved, sales could be set to increase, leaving your customers satisfied. Packaging is integral to your brand, so pay it the attention it deserves.

To find out more about how to build your brand through packaging, head over to our brand building centre.

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Sarah Hickson

With more than seven years experience as a member of the Davpack sales team, there are few who know more about the range of packaging materials we sell than Sarah. She recently left the company to become a full-time mother, but still maintains regular contact with her former colleagues. As well as sharing her own accumulated wisdom and experience on the blog, Sarah is looking forward to passing on stories from the front line of packaging sales. Davpack

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