There are plenty of things to think about when it comes to creating collateral for international brands. Here are six of the top obstacles to this process.
Deciding between transcreation and translation
While translation is typically a more basic, literal method of converting content into a new language, transcreation refers to the process of re-creating the message of that collateral in a new language.
One great example of transcreation can be found in McDonald's popular advertising slogan from the early 2000s, "I'm loving it." The fast food conglomerate knew that they needed to ensure that the sentiment of this phrase stayed consistent around the world, so they decided to transcreate it in each international market that they wanted to enter. In Spain, for example, the slogan was translated as me encanta. While this Spanish phrase is actually closer to "I really like it," in English, McDonald's determined that this new phrase was more culturally relevant in Spanish.
Deciding between these two tactics can be difficult; transcreation usually results in a more accurate message for collateral pieces, but translation requires fewer resources.
Text spacing and placement
This is one aspect of creating collateral for international brands that many who are new to translation often forget about. There are some languages that see a 30 to 40% increase in text length when translated. If you aren't prepared to account for these differences, it can completely derail a carefully planned piece of collateral where text alignment is important.
Deciding the most effective collateral channel for international brands
Consumers in some markets prefer to read printed resources, like magazines, brochures, and pamphlets. In other places, a company may find more success with online material, such as email or social media updates.
There is no one answer to the question of which type of channel to use for collateral, which is why research is critical. You will need to sufficiently understand your target market and their habits to choose a channel that is best for your brand and its messages. Even a limited amount of market research can help to determine the best strategy for each market.
There are some cultures where certain images, colors, and symbols are considered offensive. In some cases, the concept a symbol represents is different from market to market, which can create confusion. For example, in the 1980s, many European users of Apple computers were confused about the desktop icon for trash. This icon portrayed an American trash can, which in European cultures looked more like a postal box.
Even if you don't plan on using slang in your marketing materials, you still need to watch out for any company-specific product or brand names that might also be a slang term in the primary language of the new market that you are entering. If you don't research slang and informal phrases sufficiently, it could lead to an embarrassing situation, like the one Clairol found themselves in when they tried to launch a curling iron in Germany in the early 2000s. Clairol named the product the "Mist Stick," without realizing that "mist" is German slang for manure or animal excrement.
Local collaboration and cultural consulting
When developing collateral for an international brand, it's always best to have input from someone who is familiar with the language in a brand's new market. You'll want to ensure that you or your localization partner has access to someone who is well-versed in the local language, customs, and traditions so that all of your collateral is as effective as possible.
Whether you have been present in international markets for some time, or you are just now helping to take a business global, it's important that you are always working on great messages for your organization. Keeping these factors in mind can help you avoid some of the pitfalls commonly involved with developing collateral for an international consumer base.