Two months ago, Work Directions (a UK company which specialises in returning the long-term unemployed back into work) rebranded itself. To Ingeus (‘the new name for Work Directions”). Why change a name that means something obvious to its client base to one that doesn’t (and, furthermore, which is difficult to spell, and has a counter-intuitive pronunciation in English)? Brand alignment.
Ingeus do good work, in the UK, Sweden, Australia, France and Germany. But their rebrand in the UK illustrates one of the many problems with transnational brands – to keep a common identity, or to localise for maximum appropriateness.
Vivid London has specific experience in this kind of cross-border, multi-language projects. A vital part of our process is identifying a brand that works in the target markets – that straddles the difficult elements of meaning, comprehensibility, and uniqueness. If we don’t think that the existing masterbrand works, we’ll recommend that that should be changed itself should that be the most intelligent solution.
And we’re happy that, if necessary, the masterbrand acts as a sub-brand to the locally appropriate brand. This becomes particularly important where the masterbrand cannot be changed – but where in a specific locale in does not work.
We do this because we believe in the integrity of a masterbrand. But we’re also driven by the need for the product or service to which the brand is attached to be successful wherever it works – and this means developing a brand that works as effectively as it can, in the place where it has to work.
Which means localisation and transcreation are concepts we like, we work with, and we want to share. There’s a subtle difference here – localisation means making a brand appropriate to the new market; transcreation is more complex, being a ‘creative translation’ of the brand, effectively not just making it fit, but making it live within the local ecosystem as a fully integral part.
Transcreation can be scary for the client who has heard all about the ‘global village’ and thinks that that means a single brand or brandmark will work all round the village. Brands are precious, and people don’t like the idea that the brand that works so well in their home territory that they want to expand will not, in fact, work in other countries. Unwelcome or not, though, it’s true – customers want to be spoken to in their own language; and not just their own language, but also their own idiom. Simply slapping on a different language and hoping it will fit – as is increasingly happening across Europe in television advertising – produces a piece of material which works badly for everyone and works excellently nowhere.
Localisation is not taking the same brand everywhere, just changing the language on the brochures. Transcreation is not simple translation. Making a common brand work across many cultural and language sets is sophisticated, and intensive – something that Vivid’s research-based approach excels in. And as for Igneus? We love what you do; but for your clients as well as for yourselves, we loved you better when you were Work Directions.