When Puma created a campaign modeling the United Arab Emirates national flag, the negative reaction ran so deep the company pulled the entire line and recreated the design without the use of the flag.
The fact that something is acceptable in one country doesn’t mean that it will be acceptable in another. If Puma marketing had been more informed about the concept of transcreation and cultural faux pas, they would have never chosen to put a flag onto a shoe, which is worn on your feet and is in constant contact with the dirty ground — and is thus considered by some cultures to not be an appropriate place for a symbol of honor.
Simply having a good product is not enough when it comes to expanding directly into a foreign market. You must also consider how to represent that product in a way that’s acceptable. It’s not enough to simply translate your messages. You really must understand the style, context and the tone of speech in the nation where you are localizing it. In order to adapt your content into another market it is necessary to understand the culture, humor, idioms and in some cases even the dialects of that area.
The goal of every marketing strategy is to create an emotional response within your target audience so that the user feels they can trust you and know that you understand them. Transcreation provides an understanding and a friendship with consumers which allows them to connect the product with their own lives.
It also means wholly adjusting your campaign to the country and nation you want to approach. As in the case with Puma, companies who want to be leaders in other countries must understand the smallest details in common behavior. This can be shown within new strategies and sometimes even the name of the brand used in a new market. Japanese car manufacturer Honda changed the name of their car “Fitta” to “Jazz” for use in the Scandinavian market, knowing that in these areas the word “Fitta” is considered vulgar there.
Catering to the global market is the first goal for any serious manufacturer and essential in ensuring your product is accessible to a wide audience. It’s imperative to check whether your name, logo or tagline means something different in the regions where you’re expanding. Otherwise you can commit blunders that can seriously harm your brand reputation. Have you ever tried a burger in any other McDonald’s in the world apart from the US? If so, you would have noticed that it is different in every country. It’s cooked differently, has a special taste and often caters to the habits, tastes, culture, beliefs and practices of those countries. Additionally, the religious obligations governing food consumption must be taken into account which animals are eaten in each country and the cooking habits for each of those nations. Lastly, the burger’s name must be recognizable and not offensive to the consumers of that area.
Despite being a highly recognizable brand, even McDonald’s knows that their name alone is not enough for global domination of the food market. Even the biggest companies have to make adjustments to compete in the global marketplace. Think global, act local. This is the simplest description of the connection to be made when transcreating on a higher level of marketing.
If you want an effective local strategy, here are some tips you can use to make your product more locally relevant:
- Educate yourself about the culture of the area wherein your product will be sold. That means society, religion, habits, beliefs and practices.
- Learn about word usage within the country and what to avoid in both language and marketing structure on visual and linguistic levels.
- Do some research on the most popular and interesting brands in the country you are targeting.
- Depending on the budget, consider hiring local copywriters. But be sure that it’s a professional who is informed about the market, keywords and audiences.
- If you are not confident enough to create a transcreation strategy yourself, it is more convenient to hire the services of a translation agency.