A while ago I was on a conference call reviewing different proposals for a global campaign of the brand I was working on. The call was attended by the creative agency that had been hired for that job and by representatives of the brand from different regions of the world.
All proposals were excellent but, when we were going through some examples of the creative execution, my colleague from China said that we couldn’t possibly use that hue of red for some of the fonts because it would have negative connotations in that country. In that particular context, the font would potentially resemble blood and, for obvious reasons, we would not want to use it. With my western background and my experience in working in the EMENA region, it would have never occurred to me. The composition the agency had proposed was – in my opinion until then – joyful, dynamic, colourful and aimed at a young audience. Although the font was red there was nothing in the composition which could convey what my colleague had said a few minutes before. In situations like this one is when you realise that cultural differences between markets can be very significant and that one concept can rarely work across different cultures.
You have to bear in mind multiple variables when addressing a new creative proposal that is meant to work across different markets; such as the date of the event in different parts of the world, the use of colours, the font, the amount of information included in the creative work, the layout and the appearance of people featured in the photography, among others. There are so many cultural differences that it is easy to oversee them.
Therefore, based on my experience, I have put together some guidelines that I follow when creating international campaigns so that these can be used in as many markets as possible.
1. Put together a clear brief including the target audience, the business objective and the insight. Circulate it among marketing representatives from the different regions for specific feedback before sending it out to the agency
2. Ask the creative agency to send different concepts for the campaign to have different options to choose from
3. Design and supply the artwork with layers so that the files can be easily adapted for different markets. For example, if people are featured you might want to edit the photography and add local models.
4. Put together some guidelines on how to adapt the campaign to fully comply with the brand guidelines
5. Use local agencies to adapt the campaign. They will have the knowledge and expertise to localise whatever it is necessary and to make sure it does not look like it is a campaign that has been created for another audience.
6. Last, but not least, you should always adapt the copy, rather than translate it. There is nothing more annoying for a consumer than a slogan that looks like it has been created for a different audience. Don’t translate, transcreate.
What challenges have you faced when creating global campaigns? I’d love to hear your opinion. Please use the comments section below.
About me | I am an all-round international communication and marketing professional with expertise in translation, localisation, copywriting and content management, among other things. I help organisations to communicate effectively across languages and cultures. If there is anything I can help you with please do not hesitate to contact me.