Brand Internationalization Strategy for Small and Mid-Sized Companies

I know I shouldn’t, but I’m going to. After all, I’m a rebel. If you follow the literature on social media, you’ll see that most experts recommend starting online articles with a personal story. But I’m not going to. To be honest, I wracked my brain for a personal story on brand internationalization and finished the day with a blank page. Surprising, right? So, I thought to myself, “Why don’t you just fabricate a story?” And I did. Boy, did it sound disingenuous. Instead, I’m going to approach the subject of brand internationalization from the orientations that I feel most comfortable with, fairy tales and sociology.

A Long, Long Time Ago in a Kingdom, Far, Far Away…

There lived a sociologist, Emile Durkheim, who coined the term “collective consciousness”. Without bombarding you with technical mumbo-jumbo (mumbo-jumbo, being the technical term for boring filler), I’ll skip to the point.

Emile Durkheim suggested that societies are bound together by shared beliefs, values, and attitudes. This was characteristic of groups of people living within a limited proximity. When he coined the term at the end of the 19th century, Durkheim was mainly looking at the beginnings of industrial society, a far cry from the social arrangements that characterize the 2000s.

The Goose That Laid the Global Egg

The internet has blurred borders, both physical and cultural. We live in a global society but because of the spread of information, Durkheim’s perspective still rings true. There are some basic ideas and attitudes that are universal. These universals have become central in brand internationalization.

Enter, the Big Brand Wolf

Small and mid-sized organizations that haven’t taken steps to internationalize their brand are actually in a position to do so in a more effective way than organizations that have already built up a concrete brand image. You have the luxury of forethought.

Let me explain. There are two major schools of thought when it comes to internationalizing your brand. You can:

a) Re-brand in every market you enter

b) You can choose a universal appeal (remember the global collective conscious?) and make small tweaks in each locale.

Option (B) is cost-effective and efficient at creating a recognizable brand but it involves thinking ahead. You have to decide on a universal value or attitude on which to base your brand before you make your debut on the international stage.

The Seven Dwarves of International Branding

After reviewing your marketing demographics and finding your target market, you’ve got to think a little bit about what makes them tick on a personal level but think big picture. Do they value family? Friendship? Saving money? These are your universals. Your long-term branding strategy should be based on this. The seven dwarves will help you make the brand locally appealing.

Meet the seven dwarves of brand internationalization:

Language – this is a given, all marketing material must be distributed in the language of the target market. ’nuff said.

Culture – Get a consultant! Some cultures consider some topics taboo, favor a particular selling environment, or aren’t buying what you’re selling (think winter hats in Morocco)

Graphics – feature local talent, use colors that represent your message (these change by region), and ensure translated text will fit in your logo.

Idioms – For an international message, stay away from English idioms. They don’t translate well.

Content flow – The often forgotten Dwarf. Your text layout should follow local customs.

Software/website – You need to localize your software and website. This means changing the date/time/currency formats/measurements, text field lengths for phone numbers and addresses, as well as everything else that has been mentioned.

Regulations – consult an expert on local regulations. Do they require a specific format on your product labels? Do they have different language and accessibility laws in place? All your work will be for not if you don’t meet local laws.

These points are critical in reaching your target market. You can use a generic marketing message but then you won’t be leveraging your communications.

Live Happily Ever After

Here are the takeaway points:

• Think globally and pick a universally appealing brand value or attitude

• Tweak your message according to cultural nuances and standards

• Avoid generic marketing messages when going international

The Law of Attraction – Spiritual But Something Missing?

For those of us who have lived long enough to see that more material goods will never make you happy there is the obvious path toward a more spiritual outlook on life. Many mid life crisis have been averted by a change in direction into a more holistic way of being but what about those who class themselves as ‘spiritual’ and holistic already but also find themselves also unhappy and unfulfilled. Is there a common ‘answer’ to both problems of how to balance the material world and the spiritual world too?

One way to answer these issues and this common problem to achieving a life of relaxed happiness and abundance is to explore the concept of the law of attraction and how your beliefs relate to your own experience. Of course you can meditate and do all sorts of rituals but there is no quicker way to self awareness than to explore the nature of beliefs and creation. I am not just talking of reading ‘The Secret’ and chanting a few affirmations into the ether: I am talking about the deeper and more fundamental journey that will take a person into the inner self, into areas of our consciousness and unity with the world that show us how and why our thoughts create our experience.

For true success that provides longevity in business and pleasure, this inner journey will drive every experience that you have and provide a pivotal point from which you view and drive your life. From that grounded pivotal point within you, you will be able to create a business, relationship or experience that will unify your intention, focus and energy and it becomes the natural place within you from which creativity stems. In doing so you quite naturally invoke the law of attraction by your very being and lead an abundant, content, exciting, passionate and relaxed life that springs from a place that used to be called ‘spiritual’ but now can be called unified.

Truly understanding the law of attraction, how and why it works will free you from limitation and pain not because of what you can bring into your life but because of the person you will be when you have taken the journey. When you experience, within your self, ‘unity consciousness’ that brings together every aspect of your life you will be a master at conscious creation and living from ‘purpose’ and that is the way you fill the hole in your soul no matter who you are.

Commercial Law – European Private Company Legislation – Consultation – Communication

The objective of the European Private Company (“EPC”) legislation is to make it easier for European small and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”) to conduct cross-border business. This is achieved by providing SMEs with a special European legal form equalled across each Member State.

It is intended that the ability to operate in various Member States according to the same corporate rules should significantly reduce compliance costs and therefore enhance the mobility and competitiveness of European SMEs. The existing statute applicable to European Companies has been designed for large companies, and does not constitute a viable option for SMEs. This is particularly due to the fact that a minimum capital requirement of 120.000 EUR is stipulated.

Work has been carried out on the EPC legislation over the last three years. In 2004, the Commission launched a feasibility study for the EPC legislation targeting SMEs. It presented its results on the 13th of December 2005. In addition to this feasibility study, a question on the need for the EPC legislation was also asked in the public consultation on the future of the Company Law and Corporate Governance Action Plan (December 2005 to March 2006). The outcome of the study and the consultation were, however, unclear.

Even though the EPC legislation received a considerable support from SMEs, there were still some who were sceptical about it. The European Parliament has been working on the EPC legislation and the Committee of Legal Affairs has drafted an own-initiative report and a resolution on this issue together with recommendations on possible content of the EPC legislation. It was adopted by the European Parliament on the 1st of February 2007.

It is interesting to note that the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the European Private Companies at the beginning of February 2007, yet little had been done for almost 6 months. The Commission has studied the European Parliament’s report and recommendations as well as the feasibility study conducted in 2005. Whilst doing this analysis the Commission discovered several issues which needed to be tested in the market. This is why the Commission launched a specific consultation on European Private Companies in July. It is intended that it should give the Commission the facts and evidence needed for a legislative proposal.

The public consultation continued until the end of October. Its results will then be analysed and incorporated into the impact assessment, which is likely to take a number of months. The next step would be the preparation of a possible proposal and consultation of the draft text with experts. Exact timing on these matters is likely to be made clearer by the end of 2007, but a draft proposal could only be ready in the first half of next year.

The Commission has also considered issues relating to a simplified business environment for companies in the areas of company law, accounting and auditing. This was highlighted by the Commission’s Communication published in July 2007. An important part of the Commission’s Better Regulation agenda is the revision of the existing European legislation. In this context a full review of European company law, accounting and auditing directives was carried out.

The objective of the exercise was not only to reduce the administrative burdens for companies, specifically SMEs, but to ascertain if the European rules are still adequate in today’s business environment. The Communication published in July contains the Commission’s proposals based on the outcome of the review of the directives in the fields of company law, accounting and auditing.

With regard to company law, the Communication outlines two approaches:

§ The first option would limit European legislation to matters that have cross-border relevance. For example: The registration of companies and branches as well as cross-border mergers. The directives that cover mainly domestic situations (For example: The Third Company law Directive on domestic mergers and the Second Company law Directive on companies’ capital) would be repealed.

§ The second option is a slightly more detailed approach that would allow for the analysis of individual provisions in the directives, such as reporting requirements in the case of a merger or a division. It would offer possibilities of simplification, repeal or introduction of alternative provisions.

With regard to accounting and auditing, the focus of the Communication is on reducing costs for SMEs. The following measures are accordingly set out:

§ To introduce a new, additional threshold for micro-enterprises (Namely those with less than 10 employees, balance sheet total below 500,000 EUR and turnover below 1,000,000 EUR ) in order to exempt them completely from any requirements on accounting and auditing under the two directives.

§ To extend the transition period for SMEs crossing the thresholds from two to five years.

§ To exempt small entities from the requirement to publish their account.

§ To give certain medium sized companies easier access to the exemptions for small companies.

Aside from the above, the Communication has had two further objectives:

§ Firstly, to amalgamate the views of businesses and stakeholders on the proposals. This consultation ran until mid-October 2007.

§ Secondly, to find a common ground with the Member States and the European Parliament on the matters future legislative proposals should cover in order to simplify business environment for companies. In accordance with the principles of Better Regulation, impact assessments will then be prepared. Subject to the results of these documents and the outcome of the public consultation, legislative proposals are expected to be presented within the first few months of 2008.

© RT COOPERS, 2007. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

Law Firm Ratings and Related Information

Before engaging the services of a law firm, it is necessary to know its background and performance record. To do this, you have to find out the ratings of the firm about its legal ability and standards.

Law firms are rated based on their ability and general ethical standards. There are rating boards across the country which conduct and evaluate law firms based on confidential opinions of members of the bar and the Judiciary. The ratings are given on a five-year interval, usually after a lawyer has been admitted to the bar.

The two components of the ratings system are:

o Legal Ability – This component is graded in three ways: C (good to high), B (high to very high) and C (very high to preeminent)

o The General Ethical Standard Ratings denotes ‘adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria related to the discharge of legal responsibilities’. The general recommendation rating of a law firm must be a “V” which it must first receive in order to gain the legal ability rating.

Ratings Classification

The ratings are typically described as follows:

o CV Rating – An excellent first rating, a statement of the firm’s above average ability and high ethical standard

o BV Rating – Means an exemplary reputation and well-established practice, also indicates that law firm is in mid-career, with a significant client base and high professional standard

o AV Rating – The firm has reached the height of professional excellence, indicates long years of law practice with the highest level of skill and integrity

The Importance of the Rating System

The rating system on lawyers and their firms are conducted to help you determine which lawyer or legal entity is worth hiring. The rating will also show you the level of competence and experience of a law firm as seen on the classification grade. Nevertheless being un-rated does not mean a law firm has no credibility. Many competent and reputable law firms in the country remain unrated or choose not to participate in the ratings. In researching about a firm’s credentials, peers, colleagues and former clients are still the best sources of real information.

Important Characteristics of a Reputable Legal Firms

For a law firm to be respectable, the following characteristics must be observed:

o Professional – Lawyers of a firm must show a high level of professionalism by treating each client with their full attention and support

o Experience – Lawyers must meet stringent practice area qualifications and must be dedicated to the practice of one area of law

o Good Standing – Lawyers must be of good record in the bar associations where they belong and must have no record of disciplinary action against them.

o Respected – The lawyer and the firm he represents must be respected by the community and his peers

Finding a reputable law firm is very much like looking for the right lawyer. Look for the firm that will suit your needs. However, when it comes to choosing the right firm, you should look at afirm’s experience and reputation. These are the two important factors to be considered when selecting a firm that will handle your legal needs.

More information about law firm ratings and information by consulting with California law firm