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The Top 5 Myths of Global Content

Global organizations manage the delivery of their marketing messages in a myriad of ways: top down, locally run, a mixture of the two. But the reality is that truly effective global content, conveying key messages, depends on taking local nuances into consideration to facilitate understanding.

Let’s take a look at some of the myths surrounding global content and the ways we as marketers can create real engagement through a best practices approach.

Myth 1. Good content is good content. For everyone.


Language is filled with nuanced turns of phrase, human and subtlety. In English alone, trainers and jumpers, lifts and pants, biscuits and dummies… all lend themselves to different interpretations depending on which side of the Atlantic you live.

Reaching a global audience? It really means reaching local audiences and crossing vaster cultural differences that include holidays, symbols, colors, values, beliefs and so on. But not every company is equipped with that in-house knowledge, even if they do sell to different markets.

This is where local translators who live in-country, review processes that include your local subject matter experts and an understanding of the best fit for translation and further adaptation comes into play.

Myth 2. Good design is good design. For everyone.

Um. No.

You know how pants, dummies and lifts are all different, even in English? Well the same applies to imagery and visual elements.

Take something as simple as hand gestures. What does the hand gesture for OK, money and zero all have in common? How about pointing or a raised fist? Each have different cultural nuances. Color too, is rife with subtle meaning.

Like the text that goes with it, imagery should evoke the associations and connection you want to achieve with your target audience. Appreciating cultural nuance should influence the localization of marketing messages.

Myth 3. Simplified content will make local content easier.

It might, but it may also lose the very nuances that could make it effective.

How do you craft content that resonates with local audiences? You need to make sure your brand’s values and personality match what will intrigue, delight and captivate local audiences based on their attitudes, values and beliefs.

When transforming global content to local, this often means more than just translation. So what about that big high-budget corporate campaign? The one that will appear on billboards, websites, ads and screens around the world.

This is where we move beyond translation to transcreation: the adaptation of a message and its visual elements to create the same emotions and response in a target language. Using a translator’s knowledge of local culture to express the spirit of your message.

Myth 4. Multimedia.

Access to video content has fundamentally changed how people prefer to consume information. Increasingly immersive experiences like livestreaming, 360 videos and virtual reality are upping the ante. HubSpot reports that 62% of people pay attention to video more than any other medium and that 53% want to see more video in the future.

Consumers prefer it, but what does this mean for global companies? Because video represents a substantial investment, marketers need to build their videos on the needs of diverse audiences from the ground level.

This includes the initial design brief, the use of ‘talking heads’ and the choices they make for subtitles, voice overs or on-screen text. The key lies in planning for localization from the start to reduce reworking the content entirely.

Myth 5. Create a universal template for everywhere and all languages.

So what about paper, user interfaces and web layout? Create a template, get content translated and pop the translations back into the template? Anyone who has ever worked with translations knows that it isn’t that easy.

While you might design an amazing template for your original copy with a beautiful clean balance and great design elements, the reality is that translation changes things.

Most translations will compress or expand the text and require either DTP (for paper) or compression and expansion options built in (digital display). While German and Portuguese will expand by about 20 percent, Japanese, Chinese and Korean contract by almost 20 percent.

Things to consider:

  • Vertical and left-to-right reading styles based on language
  • Larger font-size or an understanding of typical expansion ratios for original content
  • Color localization options
  • The use of blank space to accommodate expansion
  • The use of images that can be removed if necessary.

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