Every company hopes that their global digital content effectively attracts their international customers. According to Bruno Herrmann, there are seven indicators to measure international content and brand effectiveness: meaningfulness, usability, accuracy, consistency, differentiation, learnability and satisfaction.
Many companies overlook the need for their international campaigns to meet the meaningfulness and usability indicators. Meaningfulness means that customers can understand the key messages without thinking too much. Usability refers to intuitive and actionable content. A blog in K International listed some examples of international marketing campaigns that floundered because they failed to take meaningfulness and usability into account.
Here are a couple of campaign message failures:
Who delivers the baby?
Pampers diapers experienced dreadful sales in Japan until they realized that the problem was the image of their trademark stork on their diaper packages. In the United States, the image of a stork is intuitively associated with the delivery of newborn babies to families. However, that story does not exist in Japan. Therefore, the campaign was not easily understood by Japanese consumers and a disconnect existed between the image of the stork and Pampers’ products.
The meaningfulness criterion was not met. Since Japanese parents did not understand the meaning behind the storks, the image of the stork on Pampers packages was not intuitive enough to prompt Japanese consumers to buy the diapers.
Bring back who?
Another example was when Pepsi tried to introduce a new slogan to China. The slogan “brings you back to life” had been translated into “brings your ancestors back from life.” Once again, the campaign was not easily understandable nor actionable to Chinese consumers – why would anyone want to buy a can of soda to bring their ancestors back to life?
Creating content for international customers is extremely important in a globalized world. But when you are developing multilingual content, it’s important to go further than just translating the text to make sure your message will be correctly received. What makes sense in one language and culture may sound nonsensical to another. We should always keep in mind that every culture is different and strive to create content that is easy to understand and takes each culture’s uniqueness into consideration.
To avoid these blunders and protect your brand’s image, your multilingual content teams should include native-speaking, in country translators who can appropriately and effectively localize your content for your global audiences.
Resources for Content Localization and Content Strategy
You may gain further insight into content strategy, content localization, translations and related topics by reviewing previous blogs written by GPI:
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About the Author
Wendy is a native Chinese speaker from Taipei, Taiwan. She has extensive experience in localization, translation and project management. As a project manager and business consultant, she has led projects in quality management, DTP automation and website localization; helping companies optimize and create success in their localization processes. Wendy has worked for private sector and public sector clients, starting her localization career at the World Bank in Washington, DC. She holds a MA in Translation and Localization Management from Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Wendy has translated a number of published children's books from English into traditional Chinese and enjoys teaching (or, at least attempting to) Chinese to pre-kindergartners!More Content by Wendy Chang