Last Updated: July 30, 2019 4:09PM
This is the second in a 10-part blog series on “Going Global.” Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll offer tips and tricks gleaned from 20 years in the business. Today, we’re discussing: so you have a website. Are you a global company?
by Sophia Eakins
“Siri, publish part two of the Going Global Series for me.” In 2019, a simple voice-command to your phone can do almost anything—even upload content to the Internet for all the world to see. In our first post of the Going Global Series, “What Does it Mean to ‘Go Global,” we introduced the impact of new technology on the global marketplace. In the midst of the digital revolution, some argue that the concept of trying to ‘go global’ is effectively irrelevant. If you have a digital presence, then you effectively already are global.
But does true (and successful) globalization imply a deeper understanding of how to conduct business with multiple international populations? It may be easier than ever to “go global,” but what does that mean for companies? In short: if you have a website that people around the world can access, does that automatically make you a global company?
Going Global by Default
Let’s say you want to buy the domain for “bestcompanyever.com.” The instant that website goes live, anyone in the world with Internet access—beyond the “Great Firewall,” that is—can view it. Whether intentionally or not, you have just created a global presence. But does that mean you’ve “gone global?”
You could argue yes. You could stipulate that any company with a digital footprint is globally relevant. Our own Lionbridge CMO Jaime Punishill thinks so. He says, “The ubiquity of fast high-speed access, coupled with the prominence of machine translation software that enables gist translations of every Web page, blog post, and tweet, have made every company—and every marketing department—global by default.”
That is certainly true—and it’s important for every connected company to know. As Punishill goes on to explain: the companies that will find the most success with a global audience are those that understand that a global presence opens them to a growing population of multilingual, multicultural people with Internet access. But global presence and global resonance do not necessarily align. Armed with that understanding, these companies go global by design.
Going Global by Design
Being truly, effectively global entails more than a digital presence. If you are globally present, you are considered an “international” company. If you are globally represented, you are “multinational.” But you can boast both these titles without being a “globalized” company. What is this extra ingredient that distinguishes truly globalized companies?
The difference between an “international” and a “globalized” company is similar to the difference between “translation” and “transcreation.” Translation can be as simple as plugging a phrase into Google Translate. Transcreation demands something more. It requires the involvement of a person who can make necessary tonal or structural changes to translations. These changes accommodate cultural or linguistic nuances.
As we explained in our first post in this series, creating an effective global strategy requires intentionality. The “global by default” approach emphasizes universality and efficiency. Comparatively, this approach prioritizes proving to your target foreign markets that your interaction is more than just incidental—it’s intentional.
You can take two simple steps to prove your intentionality to your customers: First, preemptively research your target market. Second, cater your material to suit their needs. Much like localization, globalization requires a profound understanding of how your target will best receive your service and a willingness to alter your approach accordingly.
The Takeaway: Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
Let’s revisit the question at hand: does the mere establishment of a digital presence make you a global company?
In the plainest terms, having a website in the modern marketplace guarantees a global reach. That said, to be a truly “globalized” company, you must have not only the ability to communicate with a global audience, but also the worldly knowledge to communicate with them effectively. To quote CMO Jaime Punishill once more, “It’s time to think about your global marketing with a fresh perspective. Rather than catch up and underperform with after-the-fact translations or transcreations, rethink your planning process to enable you to connect early and often with more people, in more languages, in more places.”
And therein lies the overarching point. Your company may be (and like already is) digitally connected. It’s the steps you take next, though, that will define whether or not your message resonates outside your home market.
Personalize to Globalize
As we discussed, there are many forms that your global interactions can take. Some emphasize universality. They find the value in prioritizing efficiency and creating universally applicable content. Others champion personalization. They insist that approaching your audience in a tone and language they appreciate is the only way to truly reach them. When brands around the world are pursuing personalization at all costs, they need to start with language.
In sum: any brand hoping to target buyers effectively in a new market needs a strategy. It may be easier than ever to have a global presence, but that ease also necessitates proactivity in devising a strategy that will ensure truly effective globalization.
Globalization, universalization, localization… Are all these terms starting to make your head spin? Keep an eye out for our next installment of the Going Global Series. In our upcoming “Going Global Glossary,” we’ll clarify some of the most important terms and concepts you need when preparing to Go Global.