In many ways, brand licensing represents a global industry. Its expos and events take place all over the world, from Las Vegas all the way to Tokyo. As a global industry, English seems to be the unofficial language of brand licensing. Regardless of the geographic area in which licensing is booming, English seems to be the preferred language when it comes to professional terminology. Even the industry’s leading experts, at least most of them, are anglophones. But brand licensing is also vibrantly local, and it's intriguing to see what happens when licensing is being discussed in local languages.
We all know how important it is to understand the global nature of today’s business. Experience, however, teaches us to take one step back to think how we can make business more relevant locally.
Such thinking is especially critical in sales, where the closer you get to your prospect, the higher is your chance of closing a deal with them. This requires your understanding of their needs, concerns, and mentality. As you learn to understand your prospect’s culture and literarily speak their language, your chances to build a trustworthy relationship with them significantly increase.
Yet, this all isn't as simple as it seems, particularly regarding the language. European licensing professionals frequently tend to use the main language of brand licensing to explain different industry concepts. And that's not surprising to us, right?
We're all used to using this language in our everyday work to replace some 'local' words we don't consider relevant. What’s interesting is that apparently often local languages don’t even have fitting translations to specific brand licensing concepts. This is likely because the brand licensing industry has long gravitated around English speaking countries.
Thus, most of the educational material available to global licensing professionals has been, and still is, written in English. Likewise, most of the influencers within this industry are English language natives, or foreigners living and working in Anglophone countries. In fact, the situation is currently changing as we start to see more of localized licensing education. Still, the greatest percentage of industry experts around the world have learned this business in English.
I recently had an interesting experience speaking with a prospect from Southern Europe. In the middle of our talk, I forgot a local word describing a specific phase in the licensing process. I resorted to English to avoid an embarrassing situation and explained that I'd learned the licensing theory in English. Surprisingly, the prospect reacted with a smile and said that that had been the case for him as well. He added that in his language there is no translation for that concept, and most of his colleagues use the same English word to refer to it. Apparently, using English to fill in the gaps seems to be standard procedure.
I guess one could say that we're almost there as to diversifying the brand licensing industry with languages. It's definitely possible to use local languages to “talk the talk” and cover most topics without using English words. There are only a few cases left for which the go-to language is still English if you want to get your message through.
In my opinion, this internalization trend fits the overall pattern. Just like the brand licensing industry is both local and global, its business language may be a mix of both.
So, if you speak your prospects' language(s), just take a bit of time to familiarize with the relevant licensing vocabulary. The next time you have a meeting, go right ahead and show them your language skills! And in case you find yourself in a tight spot, simply jump to English - it's the most common language of brand licensing!