Crafting Brand Identities for Local Markets

A brand name is one very powerful element for a brand to tell its story. The brand name holds within it the wealth of a brand’s value and meaning. It carries so many attributes, associations, experiences, and information that allow people to immediately understand and accept what the brand stands for. The brand name reflects the brand personality, cultivates the tone of voice, and inspires brilliant brand content.

Brand Name Localisation

Strong and distinctive localised brand names are vital tools in winning new customers when establishing a brand in a new local market, such as China, Middle East and Japan. After all, the last thing an interesting, unique, or powerful product needs is a boring, unoriginal name. Instead, brands must identify distinctive names that differentiate their offerings from competitors.

Over the years I have worked on new product naming for global brands from Nestle, Unilever and Colgate, to localised branding for Pret a Manger and Workday. 

I have developed a step-by-step process that guide the client throughout the journey.

Discovery. This initial consultation phase is designed to fully understand everything about the brand, it’s DNA, brand values, brand maturity and business objectives regarding their current and future positioning. The outcome of the discovery phase is to harvest all of the valuable elements that need to be built into a brand’s name. A solid creative brief will then outline what the name needs to archive.

Brand Storytelling. The journey of naming should start with deciding how you’ll tell the entire story of your brand in a word. I often approach it by selecting brand essences that are relevant to local consumers and articulate and integrate them into compelling brand stories. This could be presented as brand story mood board in order to help guide the clients through the thinking process and demonstrate how we have understood and captured the brand’s meaning. This important step is to achieve consensus and prioritise messaging at the start.

Brand Name Development. Whether the task is to come up with a name for a completely new brand yet to be launched globally, or taking an established brand name globally, this is the process of distilling the brand story into the moment of brilliance. I approach brand naming from various angles in order to ensure the different options work across all required local markets. At pre-screening stage the name proposals will be presented complete with rationales, back translations and even pronunciation guides before finally shortlisting the strongest contenders. This entire process demonstrated the breadth and depth of the thinking process.

Linguistic Screening and Brand Identity Check. As most of my work involve more than one markets, it’s important to ensure that the brand name works across different cultures. At this stage I will conduct linguistic and cultural checks to confirm the proposed names have not been used by any direct or indirect competitors. Nor do they have any possible negative connotations, both at the present time or historically. These steps avoid the unexpected delays during the thorough legal search and registration at the finalization stage.

Local Buy-In. A key step in the launch of any brand in a new market is ensuring that local teams all share the same brand vision. The management of feedback from all parties is crucial so that all proposed names will gain confidence among all local teams.

Brand Identity Design. Once a final name has been agreed, the brand name will be manifested in a global brand identity, complete with customised typographic treatments that will work cohesively in each market.

Style Guide Development. Apart from the need to provide a proper conclusion to the final look and feel of the brand name, a well-constructed style guide provides an effective training tool internally. The name is now no longer a word on paper. It has taken full form. It should be dressed with a global-ready logo, complemented by design and messaging, backed by a powerful story.

Selected work:

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