One day you might think about emerging your business into the international world. But doing so doesn’t mean you can copy and paste your marketing strategy from one country or culture to the next. Nor does it mean you can just simply take your messaging and translate it into different languages. From styles, strategies, consumer behaviors and more, each part of the world has its own unique take on advertising.
In order to create the best advertisements, you have to get into your audiences’ mind and advertise in ways that will resonate with them. Countries hold different beliefs, values, behaviors and mindsets. That means a message pertaining to an American audience probably won’t have the same effect on an Asian or Middle Eastern audience.
The largest difference is knowing if a culture is individualistic or collectivist. Consumers in individualistic countries like the United States and Australia tend to be more interested in chasing the latest trends and standing out from the crowd. They may not be loyal to one brand, hopping from store to store or browsing online at different places to find the best deals. On the other hand, collectivist countries like Japan, Mexico and Turkey tend to follow the crowds and value a product or brand’s reputation and loyalty. They tend to buy things that will benefit their families and not just themselves.
Another factor to consider is the ways in which you deliver your messaging. In countries that have a more individualistic society, advertisements are much more direct and explicit. Consumers know exactly what you are trying to sell them. Collective country advertisements tend to be more indirect and implicit. These countries will use more visuals and won’t explicitly state their message, allowing their audience to draw some of their own conclusions to the meaning of the advertisement.
The tone in which products are portrayed differ as well. Countries like Germany and Finland take a much more structured and serious approach, giving step-by-step guides to how a product works or using an expert to explain a product. On the other hand, the United States and United Kingdom are more prone to using personalities or celebrities to talk about products and will often include humor in their messaging. In large contrast, countries such as Japan, Spain, and Italy incorporate drama and other visual metaphors and symbols into their ads.
In creating cross-cultural products, your language will sometimes need to be tweaked, or recreated all together. Even in other English-speaking countries, words can hold different meanings and if you’re going into a country that speaks an entirely different language, you may run the risk of translating the message to mean something entirely different than you intended. Whether it’s as simple as adding the “u” into words like favorite or color for European ads, or knowing that torta in Spain refers to cake, whereas in Mexico the same word refers to a sandwich and in the Philippines it’s an omelette, always be sure to know the language of your audience and get a professional to translate any messages.
Just as language can differ between countries, so can the types of imagery and how consumers respond to them. A video of people eating with a fork and knife would be of no issue in America but wouldn’t work in Taiwan, as they don’t eat with the same utensils Americans do. Or seeing women in bikinis for a summer commercial wouldn’t cause Americans to bat an eye, but in the Middle East this would be taboo.
Colors too can hold different meanings depending on the country you are in. Green is considered a sacred color in Islam, white is associated with death in many Asian countries, and in countries like Greece and Turkey blue is believed to fight off evil. So be sure the colors used on your product packaging, print ads and in your TV commercials are reflecting the right interpretation.
Taking your brand international can be an exciting feat, but it doesn’t come without some necessary research and development. You would never want to disrespect or anger your global customers, so make sure your advertising stays true to both your brand and the culture in which you’re advertising in.
For more information about how to create international advertising campaigns, contact VUP Media today.