It goes without saying that when your company is working with international customers, providing translations of your sales and marketing content is a must. Yet when it comes to promoting your products abroad, you need to have more than a good translation: you also need to take into account the graphic adaptation of your marketing materials to suit the target country or countries.
What do we mean by “graphic adaptation”?
In terms of your international communications, it involves adapting certain elements of your original documents (symbols, images, colours, slogans, etc.) to bring them in line with the culture of your target audience. The art of this process lies in offering you tailored documents while preserving your brand identity and conforming as far as possible to your graphic charter. Below are some examples of situations that require graphic adaptation:
Firstly, a country with a different reading direction: the document’s structure must be reworked (reversed or simply edited) to adapt to this constraint. It may seem obvious, but it’s something that businesses need to bear in mind, and for which the DTP can take some time!
Then there are colours, another key aspect. Certain colours can have different connotations depending on the culture.
White is one of the most striking examples: in Western cultures, white symbolises purity, innocence and peace whereas in Japan, China and India, it’s the colour of mourning. An advertisement with a woman dressed in white is not going to convey the same message in Asia as it does in Europe!
Yellow is another colour to watch, symbolising at the same time joy and energy, and jealousy and betrayal, meaning not everyone will interpret it the same way. Green can also pose problems: the national colour of Ireland and Mexico, it has a strong and positive meaning to locals, as well as signalling hope, nature and wealth. Yet it can just as easily represent bad luck and jealously in certain Asian cultures, for example, in Malaysia, it’s associated with funerals while if you find a man wearing a green hat in China, it means that his wife has cheated on him… So it’s important to make well-informed choices when it comes to the colours in your marketing material.
Finally, sometimes images, such as symbols, shapes, objects and people, also need to be adapted. We all know that hand gestures and body language in a picture will mean different things depending on the country. In Russia, showing the palm of your hand is a sign of aggression, a thumbs up in Iran is extremely offensive and placing your hands on your hips in Indonesia is threatening… So be weary of the stance your models take in your catalogues, which may be harmless in the UK but highly insulting elsewhere!
In short, to avoid any faux-pas and ensure that your marketing content doesn’t give the wrong impression, it’s worth reading up on the cultural preferences of your target country and adapting your brochures and catalogues before they’re distributed.