Going Global: How to Launch Your Established US Brand in the UK

Congratulations! Your merchandise is flying off the shelves at home in the US and you’re in a solid position to bring your quality product to the international stage. You’ve shown your target market your product’s worth and you want to improve the lives of a wider consumer set by introducing the great work you’ve been doing in the USA to other parts of the world.  

So where to? The UK seems an obvious choice; the time zone isn’t a million miles ahead, there’s the shared language, the various commonalities and its long-term status as a political ally. But why should your neighbours across the Atlantic sit up and pay attention to what you have to offer? Often with a well-established and successful brand, there can be a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. However, this isn’t the case when breaking through into any new market. Establishing your brand in a new territory requires a great amount of strategic thinking, clever communication, and an excellent understanding of what makes your potential audience tick.

Messaging is Everything 

Determining the correct message to hook your desired audience in is the key to any successful launch. Before expansion, you will have carefully considered why this particular demographic stands to benefit from your product and services. However, due to cultural, geographical and societal nuances, chances are, how and why your USA audience responds successfully to your offering won’t be for the same reasons as your UK market. And, although we share a language, this doesn’t mean your work here is done! There are a number of differences in the way we lead our lives and communicate here across the pond, noting legislative, environmental and historical elements, even spelling! Ignoring these factors by simply replicating materials that got your message across elsewhere is a sure fire way to immediately alienate your desired customer. 

So with this in mind, what activity can you undertake to break into the UK?

Stand By Your Brand

Authenticity in marketing has always been highly regarded across industries because people will always buy from companies they trust. While the way in which you convey your message may change, you should always be explicit about your why, no matter where in the world you are. 

Don’t allow your reasons for doing what you do to become watered down in an effort to connect with your potential new customers. You’ll certainly have to adapt certain elements of your brand in order to successfully target a new audience, who, as previously discussed, will need to be addressed and interacted with in a different way. However, this shouldn’t mean you have to abandon what made you successful in the first place, or by neglecting your passions, values and what your company believes in; the driving force behind why you do what you do. 

A great example of a company who succeeds at speaking to various localities without losing what is at the heart of its brand is Frito-Lay (Lay’s), the global crisp brand has a multitude of sub-brands for the purpose of resonating with its international audiences. Walkers is the UK arm of Lay’s. Having been acquired in 1989, the company kept the famous Walkers name to harbour customer loyalty and its approach to marketing is very much in line with the requirements of its UK audience. From its comms efforts, right down to its flavours; think Cheesy Beans On Toast, Lamb and Mint and Steak and Ale Pie! 

You’ll see it maintains the same principles of Lay’s worldwide, keeping things fun and friendly in tone; famously running highly interactive competitions and polls for customers to get involved in, often focused around choosing upcoming flavours and combos themselves! They also support long-standing charity partnerships and initiatives and run tongue-in-cheek ads with a host of celebrity guest stars. 

However, what you will notice is the personalities and charities they collaborate with are incredibly localised in each region. For example, one of its causes in the UK is 

Comic Relief, and in the US it founded Southern Dallas Thrives. Notably, The Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon is the current face of its American ads, while Gary Lineker, British footballer and pundit has faced the Walkers brand for over a quarter of a century. 

Here are examples of Twitter posts from the brand and it’s sub-brand which clearly address subject matter specifically related to the region they are operating in. Note the Lay’s account referencing the popular PB&J sandwich for #NationalSandwichDay (not a popular choice over here in the UK!) and the UK account talking jacket potatoes, referred to as baked potatoes or filled potatoes in the US. 

Creating a sub-brand allows each arm to speak to audiences based on location, which is key to the brand’s success and consumer loyalty; keeping content relevant and topical, therefore relevant to its target markets. 

Localise Your Content

While the UK is tiny compared to North America it is multicultural and diverse in many ways. On your travels you’ll hear a breadth of accents, terminologies and references. Just ask residents of Birmingham and Manchester to decide on whether a hotdog bun is a cob or a barm and you might not hear the end of it! It is vital your brand messaging is relatable; this notion has become all the more prevalent in 2021 as many people have become even more in touch with their local communities as a result of the pandemic.

Mirroring the way your audience communicates secures a connection and will be easily understood, so invest time in studying regional idiosyncrasies and seek to understand how you should address your audiences in these areas. They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

On the subject of localisation, we’d also recommend creating social media pages in each territory instead of using the ones you may have already set up in the States. This will allow you to speak directly to your British followers. Updating them on region-specific sales, setting up maps so they know where to find you and acknowledging special events in the country.  This is also a great way to create global campaigns that align, speaking to specific locales just as Levi’s did over lockdown. This also increases chances of international visibility. 

Key Communication Channels

If you’re going to the effort of creating content that sings, you should ensure you choose the right stage. Don’t make the assumption that the social media and messaging platforms that are most prevalent in the States are the same over in the UK. There will be some similarities but don’t overlook your research here. 

Take WeChat for example; you may not be familiar with it but there are 705.4million monthly users in China who are. In fact, it is the most popular mobile communications app there. You don’t want to miss out on getting your key messages over to the relevant people. Do they prefer Messenger to Whatsapp? TikTok or Instagram? YouTube or television? Not only will selecting the perfect channels support your agenda, but you’ll be able to utilise these networks to research what your audience is up to with a spot of social listening. 

Create the Right Relationships 

Using traditional, digital PR and influencer marketing to harness connections with the outlets and figures your public interacts with is an excellent way to build confidence in your brand. This could take shape as coverage in national press publications, posts in localised Facebook communities or as content courtesy of influencers across social media channels. 

While you have already developed relationships with major titles and personalities in America, it is important to publish your new marketing materials where your UK audience is going to see them.

Time It Just Right

Take the time difference across the pond into account, especially relevant in terms of social media management and email marketing campaigns. It makes little sense to be going live with the content you’ve worked so hard on at a time when your target market is tucked up in bed! Take note of when your British followers are likely to be online. When do they commute? What are their usual working hours? When are their public holidays? 

In a similar vein, make sure you are aware of significant occasions that take place here and any news or events that impact your market. This is another opportunity to form trust with your public, showing them that you care about what they care about. 

Digital Glue are experts in understanding the key messages and objectives that North American brands have and adapting them to a UK market. We’ve worked with many international brands, including Datacolor, ACDSee, Satisloh, MacPhun and DxO with a proven track record of delivering ROI. 

Find out more about the methods we use to drive leads and sales and enable your business to further invest in the UK and Europe.

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