Online marketing platforms connect brands with individuals across the globe. Whilst English dominates the online world, language remains a potential barrier to audiences outside of the brand’s native territory, as do cultural differences.
The growing demand for a ‘local but global’ approach is the result of rapid growth in online digital marketing; brands are increasingly requiring country-specific experts to work within an international system to represent the brand to a specific audience. This requires tailoring and translating content – both linguistically and culturally – to suit local audiences, whilst retaining the global image and brand experience. Despite this, a surprising 48% of brands have no budget for this activity and are aware that it can be a time-consuming.
The British Council lists ten languages that it believes will be of crucial importance for business in the coming years. The languages that have a growing requirement in international business are German, French, Arabic, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, with the last two rapidly expanding as a business language across several continents.
Frédéric Faivre, President of Dialogue International and partner at French member agency Grenade & Sparks, says: “Simply translating content from one language to another is not enough. It’s important to understand how the content is intended to perform and to translate it with subtlety and consistency, as if it were originally written in that language. Reaching multi-lingual audiences is about personalisation and localisation; it can be as simple as changing the content from American English to British English. It can also become as complicated as translating a joke from one language to another, which requires more than language skills; it requires an understanding of the culture and social structure. What might be funny in one culture can fall flat or, worse, be deemed offensive in another. Agencies must be sensitive to this.”
US-based Dialogue member agency Gravity recently launched a data-management platform to help marketers target specific ethnic audiences, for example, specifically reaching Venezuelan consumers rather than targeting Hispanic consumers more broadly. Their new tool, Audience M, helps marketers target 78-plus multicultural groups across the web and mobile, such as Polish, Albanian, Ethiopian and Peruvian. The agency partnered with the top 10 websites for each country to gather data, like traffic from visitors in North America.
As discovered during the testing phase for Audience M, research shows that 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time online on websites in their own language: a figure which demonstrates that language is important on all platforms – from instruction manuals to social media. Colloquialisms are used on a daily basis on social media and can be difficult to translate between languages and cultures. Conveying the right amount of humour, emotion, and information in a foreign language is just one of the key benefits of a network of multi-lingual teams.
Shelby Haslam, Strategy Director at UK-based member agency Ware Anthony Rust, said: “We have clients based in different countries, which means that English can be a second language. It’s not only helpful to them if we can offer them the option of communicating with a partner agency in their own language but it also speeds up business processes and saves time and money. Dialogue also enables global brands to conquer markets in different continents due to each member agency’s ability to offer cultural insights. The network allows agencies to tailor every aspect of the campaign to suit a specific culture when translating from one language to another, but they can tackle the grammar and punctuation rules which are obvious to native speakers.”
Through the collaborative structure of Dialogue International, agencies branching into these and other new territories so can offer their clients a flexible solution to understanding different cultures and languages. The network gives each agency the opportunity to do business with global brands, with the support of a network of international creative thinkers that speak the language, and crucially understand the different cultures, of each market fluently.