Borderless: How to design for global consumers

10/09/2018

Globalization, the great worldwide equalizer. Bringing people together in consensual harmony (at least that was the plan) and, most importantly, challenging design agencies and marketing experts to be ingenious enough so they can market brands, products and concepts everywhere from London to Beijing in a similar successful fashion.

Let’s face it, the fact that one company can now easily sell the exact same product in many different geographical regions of the world is a great commercial upsell opportunity. But on the flipside, it is also a massive headache for design agencies. Indeed, how on earth is it possible to intend selling the exact same product and/or use the same packaging option to people living in different countries and who don’t have anything in common? It is a tough question and one you have to be able to answer.

Here are a few important aspects to consider when exploring the best ways to design internationally-sound products and packaging options:

 

The importance of naming

From experience, international product expansion projects are a great opportunity to focus on the products´ basics, to take out the fluff and concentrate on the very core features of the product you are trying to package, starting by its very first cornerstone: its name. A good name is an incredibly valuable asset and finding one is a tough exercise to pull off in a monolingual, domestic market, let alone for the whole world at once. Naming, in today’s global marketplace, entails a lot of different considerations, from both sides of the language barrier. Here’s a checklist to cross-check your brand name against every local language:

  • It should be catchy and easy to recall
  • It should be easy to pronounce
  • It should have a distinctive appeal
  • It should suggest product benefit
  • It should not infringe on existing registered brand names
  • It should not have a double-entendre component (be careful there, cross check with native speakers)

The goal is to find a name that could work across borders, even if you might sometimes adapt naming to fit a specific market.

 

Rebranding to suit new local markets and face the clash of culture

Going further than just naming, creating a robust cross-border ready brand also means: 1) identifying the crossroads between the product’s strengths and values with the local culture’s main traits (local consulting reports are a great tool to work with) and 2) zeroing in on those similarities and integrating them into your global designs. Check out how Coca-Cola adapted it’s legendary 33cl can to fit the Chinese market, integrating a translation of its trademark, roughly meaning “delicious happiness” and integrating bespoke color pops to fit the codes of the local food industry in terms of packaging trends.

 

 


Image Source: coca-colacompany.com

 

Since we are talking about China just now, it is no use mentioning how different the local culture is very different from the west. And culture is a major influence on consumers’ perception of a product and its packaging especially. If you decide to use a multinational packaging option, be sure to choose wisely and run some pilot tests before going global. For example white packaging might be seen as a clear, minimalistic, powerful design in western cultures, but what about the rest of the world? Open your mind and never assume that your point of view will be understood in other places.

 

Beware of international regulations

In some cases, you also can’t avoid using market-specific packaging due to national regulations.

If you aim at selling your products abroad, you will find that different markets follow different laws and regulations. The food industry especially has to follow strict labeling regulations. For example, the EU laws regarding food information delivered to consumers on packaging require specific mandatory information being stated on outside shells. For example: displaying nutritional information per 100g, use of imagery providing a full ingredient list in weight order are just some of the many particulars to consider. So a pack is more than just a simple cover, it also warrants legal compliance and thus you must take this into considerations when briefing your foreign expansion plans as you have to adapt your packaging not only to your product but also to your markets.

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