As technology advances, it can often seem like the world gets smaller. We can video chat with people anywhere in the world (or in space!), Amazon will deliver products to your door in two hours and you can send emails while traveling at 550 mph on an airplane.
But while we can communicate globally with ease through the use of technology, there can be challenges in terms of cultural and language differences. What might be a great campaign in one country may turn out to be illogical or even offensive in another country.
Global campaign considerations
When working on international marketing campaigns, think beyond text translations. Think about what the time of year means to those in other countries–which holiday do they celebrate? When do colleges let out for the summer? What is a typical vacation period for families? For businesses?
Beyond pure text translations, you may often find that you need to edit your design and copy for each country as well. Here are some thoughts to consider when translating text and design for global campaigns:
- Don’t put all your faith in Google Translate. For someone who is learning a new language and just needs to look up a word or phrase, Google Translate is a must-have app. For someone trying to create a campaign that will be seen by thousands or millions of potential customers, it can be a curse. Google Translate does not account for slang or context and clarity is often lost when translating full sentences. If you need to translate, find a local or a professional translator.
- Figures of speech don’t always translate. Another reason you should avoid Google Translate is because it will translate figures of speech for you, but it won’t warn you that they mean nothing in other countries. For example, phrases like “it’s raining cats and dogs” isn’t a phrase that is understood in most countries how it is here in the U.S.
- Colors have cultural meaning. While you often want to choose the colors that are most aesthetically pleasing or in line with your brand colors, you need consider the cultural implications of the colors. For example, in many countries purple is considered a royal color, but it is associated with death in Hispanic nations. Another example: while black and white are used in minimalist design in many Western countries, they are considered the colors of mourning in Japan and should not be used in packaging design. Research how color may affect your message across the globe.
Understand regulations and international advertising laws
Something as simple as a Facebook ad may need to have additional verbiage and regulatory phrases added, depending on the country. This is especially true in the food, health and medical devices industries. Look into the governing bodies of the industry in which you are placing ads or campaigns to make sure what you are saying is OK to advertise and whether or not additional disclaimers are needed. Here are a few links to international advertising standards/laws in various countries.
If you are putting together an international marketing campaign, it’s likely that you are working with a large organization or within a campaign that has a healthy marketing budget. Use some of those budgeted dollars to pass any copy or creative elements through the company’s legal team (or bring one in if there is not one on record) to make sure you are in compliance all around.
Slow and steady wins the race
Managing international campaigns can be exciting. And as I’ve mentioned, in today’s digital age, it’s relatively easy to get your message heard across the globe. In campaigns such as these, however, when information can be lost in translation and you’re dealing with multiple regulations across the various countries, it’s important to think about the full scope of the project and make sure everything is done in compliance. Before you publish, take your time and make sure you’ve done the following:
- Run all copy, video, imagery and creative elements through professional translation
- Likewise, run the same pieces through your company’s legal department (or bring one in that specializes in international advertising law)
- Verify if additional verbiage or disclaimers are needed in any copy that is published
- Set up tracking and analytics on any URLs, digital ads, etc., to track where the ads are being seen, how successful they are, etc.
- Research if there are particular tactics that work better in one country over another. For example, you may find that Google Display Ads work wonders in Europe whereas pay-per-click is better suited for the U.S.
- Understand where consumers in other countries receive their information–which outlets do they trust? We recently ran an international campaign for a client during Q3 2015 and found that countries outside the U.S. click on and trust third-party mobile apps that display ads way more than consumers here in the U.S. This is information that can then be used to tweak budgets and strategies for future campaigns.
When creating your next international marketing campaign, do your research. You can even partner with agencies in other countries or those that have experience creating global campaigns in multiple countries with similar messages and goals. It can be an exciting and fun endeavor if you take the time to research and set motions in place that make sense based on the countries you are trying to reach.
If you need an agency with global marketing connections and experience, give us a call. We would love to help.