Expanding abroad? Leverage your reputation

Expanding abroad? Leverage your reputation

A strong reputation, built up through hard work, graft and strategy, is an asset – so use it when your company expands.  

Moving into other countries doesn’t have to mean creating a reputation from scratch; it is possible to leverage your existing reputation. While a culturally sensitive approach is necessary, the forces of globalisation and digitisation are shrinking the world, so that projecting your home reputation overseas – or at least using it as a foundation – is achievable.

Use your consumers

Consumers are at the heart of strategy, reputation and brand essence in the digital era. Showcasing their comments and opinions about your business can help to draw in customers in new areas of the world. Language is less of a barrier online, and exploring options to translate social media feeds – such as the Twitter Translation Centercan be an effective way to use existing customer advocacy.

Showcasing isn’t the only option; proactively reaching out to potential brand advocates in the destination country is worth the investment in time. According to a report by Nielsentwo-thirds of consumers say that they trust consumer opinions posted online. Using location analytics on social media may well reveal that some of your already-engaged users are based in a particular country, while tools such as Followerwonk can source potential promotion partners and influencers to help establish the brand. Brand advocacy platforms such as Sociabble could also assist.  

Make partnerships

According to Nielsen, ‘opinion elites’ tend to feel more favourably towards companies that are headquartered in their own country, so a connection with a local brand could benefit a company’s expansion into new areas.  

Demonstrating a strong and sustainable existing reputation can help attract desirable local partners. Leveraging it at the presentation/negotiation stage is advisable – for example, by highlighting user surveys, social media engagement statistics or other tangible measures of reputation.

Focusing on particular aspects of your reputation – such as an ethical pledge in a production line – can help to identify brands or companies that have a similar ethos. Strategically matching up with companies based in the destination country can offer access to engaged consumers and potential markets for your brand.

Show your local colours

Conversely, marketing your home country and local reputation to consumers abroad may form part of your strategy. Brands such as Jack Daniels invite consumers into the origin, location and local reputation of their product. Every bottle feels like a little piece of Americana – despite the whisky being sold globally.

However, awareness of cultural associations – whether the stamp of ‘British’ is a gold star or a black mark in the destination country, for example – is crucial.

Learning opportunity

Expanding abroad can also offer an opportunity to alter and improve a brand’s reputation. There may be an aspect of the business’s ethos that is forgotten by consumers – perhaps it is something that has been recently introduced, so is not yet associated with the brand in consumers’ minds back home.

Expanding abroad offers a chance to refine and build on the type of reputation a company has already created. A little-known but successful local community programme, for example, could take centre stage in brand communications in a new country, to ensure that the socially conscious aspect of the business is recognised.

But remember…
  1. Reputation may precede expansion – the online community is a global one.
  2. Sometimes starting anew may be best. Countries are diverse and after research on the ground, it may prove more beneficial to build a different type of reputation for the brand.
  3. Don’t forget consumers in your home country. Reputation is not static and is sensitive to change.


Maeve Sinnott Journalist CPL
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