Textappeal | CultureShocks Blog
38
archive,paged,category,category-cultureshocks,category-38,paged-3,category-paged-3,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-theme-ver-3.1,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.11.1,vc_responsive
 

CultureShocks Blog

multilingual seo and global seo

Global SEO: 5 Top Rules for Better SEO

  |   CultureShocks Blog

An American marketing executive was asked by his CEO to shape up their brand’s struggling European operations.

“Aaron,” said the CEO, on the top floor of the company’s tall glass headquarters in downtown Chicago, “you are a change-maker. I want you to go to London, align EMEA marketing with our best practice, and double our market share.”

“Consider it done,” Aaron answered.

Aaron decided to hire a business coach to help him navigate the new corporate environment. On a morning call with a London colleague, he happened to mention that he wanted to know about the best local coaches. The colleague insisted on helping.

Later that day he received an email:

Dear Aaron,

It’s a bit late here but I did a quick online search for you. You’ll find attached a list of coaches. We look forward to welcoming you on the other side of the pond!

Over dinner, Aaron told his wife about the email.

“I’m sure London will be terrific, but it does seem a little disorganised out there. The head of HR said he’d email me details of local business coaches, but all there was in the attachment was a list of local bus lines.”

His wife, a famous writer who was often invited to speak in Britain, laughed.

“Darling, in England ‘coach’ means ‘bus’. Words matter.”

 

This is one of the biggest complications that brands face when they go international. Understanding these subtleties in language is critical when catering to a foreign audience. And if your business is ready, worldwide branding can be a profound decision, as most of the top-ranked websites in the world don’t cater to a single region of the globe. They transcend borders to spread their offerings to international audiences. While English is the most widely used language on the web, focusing only on these English-speaking individuals and not building cross-marketing systems means that businesses are losing out on literally billions of potential prospects.

The best way to reach the masses worldwide is through substantial global social media and international SEO strategies. Other regions of the globe don’t rely on Facebook or Twitter. Google is not authoritative everywhere; China and Russia support different search engines. China’s preferred engine, Baidu, is the 4th most-visited site in the world and requires different tactics for dominance.

To overcome international search engine and social media challenges, marketers must become familiar with overall best practices and then drill down to become an expert. Here is the foundation you will need to take a brand’s message worldwide:

 

1. Understand Regional Specifics

When going international, there are some fundamental elements that must be considered. First, study the prominence of digital media in your region of choice. Some countries are not as web-friendly yet, so measure your tactics accordingly. You’ll also need to determine which search engine is best suited for each area; in Russia, Yandex is most widely used whereas in Japan, Yahoo is the engine of choice.

Legalities also matter, and every area of the world governs the web differently. The rules for Baidu, China’s search engine, are vastly different than Google’s and by failing to comply, your company could end up in hot water. There are various technical elements to consider too, like domain structure, hreflang tag usage and related details that can make a significant impact on your global SEO campaign.

 

2. Research Local Keywords

Since this is a vital element to any SEO strategy, it is crucial to adjust keyword choices to the culture you are targeting. When researching, be sure to use the correct search engine for that region, and ensure that words are spelled correctly; failing to apply special characters like umlauts or accents can drastically alter the results. Additionally, because various dialects are used throughout places like Europe and the Middle East, identifying the proper words and phrases that people actually use is imperative, as many translation tools are too formal and the same word can often have different meanings. For instance, when Tropicana marketed their “jugo de china” (orange juice) in Puerto Rico all was well, but when presenting the same product to Cubans in Florida, things went awry as it was interpreted as “juice from China”. Despite the translation’s accuracy, the lack of cultural context caused much embarrassment.

The key here is to consult a native expert, or a company that works with native experts; never rely on online tools to finalise your keyword approach. One Chinese university made this exact mistake on one of its bus stops in 2015 when it relied on automatic translation tools. The translation software decided that “The Sichuan Normal University Chenglong Campus Station” sounded better as “The University Jackie Chan Campus Station”.

 

3. Marry Search and Site

If you’re serving an international market, you’ll want to have different versions of your website. The best way to do this is either by identifying a visitor’s location through their IP address and loading the correct language, or by providing users with a prominently placed menu to switch languages. Set up country specific URLs and sub-categories to help search engines easily index your site.

 

4. Translate Intent, not Words

Translating your content and site materials to the proper language is critical for ranking. But if you aren’t applying the right keywords, slang words are used incorrectly, or you in any way butcher the language unknowingly, your efforts are completely in vain. For instance, when JFK gave his famous 1963 speech in Berlin, he told the crowd: “Ich bin ein Berliner”. Unbeknownst to him, “Berliner” is a slang term in Germany which ultimately caused him to say: “I am a jelly doughnut”.

Taco Bell also had a ‘major fail’ in the Japanese market in 2015 when the brand used tools like Google Translate to build their overseas website. The page was riddled with translation blunders like “Beef Crunchwrap Supreme” turning into “Supreme Court Beef”, “Cheesy Chips” becoming “Low-quality Chips”, and in its company history when it states that “A legacy is born”, the translation actually meant something closer to “an obsolete programme is born”.

Intimately understanding the keyword translation goes for social media localisation as well, since it is a massive force for driving website visits. Failing to truly understand the translation could land you in a bit of a pickle, like when Lindsay Lohan unknowingly told her Arabic Instagram followers “You’re a donkey”, instead of the intended “You’re beautiful”.

You should translate everything ­– from navigational elements to blogs and user reviews. Then, generate new content for the market you are targeting. Other parts of the world will not receive the same value from English posts that have been translated so it is vital to focus on providing value to areas according to their own needs.

 

5. Speak in One Voice

In order for your company to deliver the full experience and impact, brand consistency is key. This means that translations alone are not enough to optimise a site; marketers must manage SEO efforts to encompass the words most commonly searched for in each region. The tone of your brand will be lost in translation (no pun intended) if some amount of rewriting doesn’t take place. To get this right, it’s wise to employ professional services to ensure your copy is spot on. Remember, UX is a critical component to site optimisation. Lexus failed to take the necessary steps last year when it marketed its NX model car in Lithuania. Due to not conducting the proper market research and implementing rewrites, the company failed to recognize that “NX” is a common abbreviation for “naxui”. In Russian, this is a swear word meaning “f–k”. Needless to say, sales of the car did not go so well.

Multilingual SEO is a challenging endeavor that requires due diligence on research and resources, and it requires patience.

 

In the end, Aaron didn’t double his firm’s market share. He tripled it. But he never aligned marketing with the US.

 

“So darling,” said his wife as they sipped champagne to celebrate his promotion to Global CMO and her new bestseller, “did you ever find that business coach you were looking for?”

 

“I didn’t have time, honey. All I did was make sure the team understood their job was to know our audience better than the competition, and stick to one big brand story. What they did online and with SEO in all those weird languages and cultures was awesome.

Read More
cultural mistakes to avoid on social media by global brands

Cultural Marketing Mishaps by Brands With Massive Backlash From Social Media Followers

  |   CultureShocks Blog

Social media is one of the single most powerful marketing tools in today’s digital age. These readily available tools have the potential to spread brand messaging to millions of individuals in minutes. Sometimes, however, that is not a good thing.

While social media has the ability to elevate brands to new heights, it can also provide the exact antithesis if executed improperly.

From time to time, companies try to cash in on trending hashtags in the most inappropriate of ways, and in turn, severely damage their brand reputation. Some of the most ill-conceived corporate tweets have come from sheer ignorance or blatant disrespect for another culture. These are not moments any brand wants etched in internet infamy.

In an effort to help your company side step some easily avoidable social media marketing mistakes, check out these five misguided moves made by popular businesses.

 

1. Understand Political Tensions

 

obama and putting as an example to avoid political tensions to avoid cultural mistakes

When posting tweets or Facebook updates involving other countries, it is important to understand the current political climate to avoid stirring any controversy.

Soda conglomerate Coca-Cola failed to do just that at the end of 2015 when the company posted a seemingly innocuous image of a snow-covered Russia. The well-manner image sparked a slew of angry responses from Russian users claiming that the depiction was outdated, leaving out several regions, including Kaliningrad and Crimea.

Coca-Cola apologised several days later through its official VKontakte page, and included an updated image that reflected several of the missing territories, Russia’s western Kaliningrad exclave and the Kurile Islands, as well as Crimea. The update in itself sparked further outrage as the Kremlin had seized and annexed the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula back in 2014, which led to western sanctions against Moscow. The update led to a flood of upset Ukrainian social media users expressing their disdain for the corporation with the hashtag #BanCocaCola.

Soon after, the soft drink giant deleted the post altogether and figured that it wasn’t worth the trouble.

 

2. Be Aware of Foreign Laws

 

be aware of foreign laws social media to avoid cultural mistakes

In the world of social media, hiring celebrities to promote products is the norm. That’s the entire point of influencer marketing campaigns. But cultural marketing can go horribly awry if you aren’t aware of promotional laws in different parts of the world.

In an effort to leverage the widespread soccer culture prevalent in the United Kingdom, Snickers decided to pay Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand, along with four other social figures, to tweet out images of themselves eating a Snickers bar with the phrase, “You’re not you when you’re hungry”.

The problem, however, is that in the United Kingdom, if a celebrity is paid to endorse a product, that information must be disclosed. The social posts caught the eye of the UK’s Office of Fair Trading, who ultimately investigated the matter. One OFT official commented by stating, “Online advertising and marketing practices that do not disclose they include paid-for promotions are deceptive under fair trading laws”.

Snickers did come clean, confirming that all celebrities were paid for the promotional tweets, and the Office of Fair Trading later cleared the candy company of any wrongdoing. Despite getting let off, companies should take this as an example of what could happen when you are not crystal clear on the laws of the area where you are marketing your product.

 

3. Familiarise Yourself Before Posting

 

cultural mistakes when searching in internet

Misinformation is posted in mass all across the web. There are no internet police – you have to monitor your own messages diligently. When it comes to cultural marketing, however, brands should know better than to post without researching an area.

Delta Airlines made one such haphazard post when attempting to congratulate the United States on its win over Ghana in the World Cup. The airline tweeted two separate images side-by-side in an attempt to recognise each of the countries; the Statue of Liberty for the United States, and a giraffe for Ghana. This was a massive oversight by the company as giraffe’s are not native to Ghana.

It was later discovered by Twitter user @dcGisenyi that the image Delta posted was actually a stock image from the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya; which is over 3,000 miles away from Ghana.

Many poked fun at the company for their ignorance; and rightly so.

 

4. Be Respectful

 

being respectful is a tip to avoid social media mistakes.-min

MTV may not be known for its intelligent programming or cultural sensitivity, but earlier this year the company had to issue not one, but two, apologies after the MTV Australia Twitter channel posted a culturally insensitive, and what some even considered racist, tweet to the social network.

While Golden Globe presenters Eva Longoria and America Ferrera were shedding light on Hollywood racism, MTV Australia tweeted, “Where are the English subtitles?”

This spawned a hailstorm of disgruntled tweets. The original message was removed and an MTV Australia spokeswoman later told the Huffington Post that it was a “poor joke”.

 

5. Keep Your Opinion Private

 

keep your mouth private to avoid cultural mistakes

Over the past several years, many have been very vocally supportive about equal rights for homosexual individuals and “gay culture” overall. And then there are those that haven’t been.

Chik-fil-A faced a major backlash over its public stance in opposition of same-sex marriages. After the company’s CEO expressed his disappointment over the Supreme Court’s ruling via Twitter, the company faced an avalanche of offended followers. The reaction was so adverse that the story spread to national news outlets, was tweeted by celebrities, and many even called for a boycott of the chicken chain.

Sometimes, for the sake of brand reputation, it’s best just to keep your thoughts off social media.

 

These are only a few of the cultural mistakes brands have made on social media in recent memory; the official list is far more extensive. Take note of these blunders, and let them inspire you to be sensitive, thoughtful, and respectful to all when posting cultural materials to your social channels.

Read More
image with different hands simulating global marketing strategies

Global Marketing Strategies in the Sharing Economy. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  |   CultureShocks Blog

In 2011, TIME Magazine claimed that sharing economies were one of 10 ideas that would change the world, and surely, they were correct. Also known as the collaborative economy or collaborative consumption, the sharing economy refers to ‘the coordination of peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services, usually made possible through digital platforms’. According to Eric Newcomer at Bloomberg, the concept of collaborative consumption was coined back in 1978. It was only in 2008 (the same year Apple launched its App Store) that the sharing economy of today truly came into being. Suddenly, things like finding a place to live while on holiday, or finding someone to mow your lawn, became tasks that could be performed in minutes through digital connections. The global nature of the sharing economy has allowed sharing economy companies such as Airbnb, Uber, Couchsurfing and others to establish a marked presence in international markets. The success of these companies can be largely attributed to the global marketing strategies they implement, appealing to local people and cultures.

 

Airbnb: A global takeover

global marketing strategy from Airbnb

The global success and recognition of the Airbnb name is something that not too many other companies have. With a market in 190 countries, Airbnb has truly taken over the globe. How did Airbnb dominate the international playing field so quickly? Beyond the great product that the company offers, Airbnb’s success is based on an extremely localised and well-researched marketing strategy.

 

For the love of language

For starters, the company made it a priority to expand into many languages. One of their many steps towards localisation is creative translation. Airbnb is today available in 26 different languages, all running in real-time with constantly updated content. Furthermore, Airbnb has gone the extra mile by paying attention to the variants in languages, with websites that cater to specific forms of the same language. Depending on your language of preference, Airbnb translates spellings (for example, American English versus British English) and colloquial terms and usages (changing, for example, ‘vacation’ to ‘holiday’) depending on the country specific version of the site. This results in a truly customised, locally appealing experience for the customer.

 

It’s all in the detail

The translation strategy that Airbnb has followed thus far has also yielded fantastic results. Considering the diversity of people and cultures around the globe, it makes sense that a marketing campaign that works in one country might be completely unsuitable for another audience. Simply put by Dennis Goedegebuure, former head of Global SEO at Airbnb, “The real challenge of global strategy isn’t how big you can get, but how small you can get.” Airbnb got really ‘small’ in many ways including using local social media stars to promote their website which brought in thousands of signups. They also used localized voiceovers for people on country-specific Airbnb sites, so that cultural nuances were retained in creative translation. To cater specifically to East Asian audiences, Airbnb made sure that their referral programme was available for mobile users, since people in East Asia tend to browse more through their mobile devices. Rather than implementing a centralised marketing strategy, Airbnb, in lieu of the nature of its service, is truly a successful global player.

 

Uber: It’s going to be a bumpy ride

global marketing strategy from Uber

Uber’s expansion, although massive, has come with, and continues to  have, its fair share of hiccups. Unlike an Uber ride, their dip into international markets has been far from smooth. In 2014, Uber was launching at a rate of almost a city aday. Austin Geidt, Uber’s head of global expansion told Businessweek, “If we’re not there now, we’ll be there in a week”. But is this really the way to go?

 

One size doesn’t fit all

In terms of cross-cultural marketing, the answer is a resounding NO. The figures speak for themselves. Very recently, Uber revealed that they are losing more than $1 billion per year in China. How? Well, very aptly put by Robert Salomon of Entrepreneur, “The young tech company has committed a classic globalisation mistake: it naively assumed that its business model and market approach, which ultimately solidified its market-leading position in the US, could translate just as seamlessly to other countries. It severely underestimated the challenges of operating in countries that embody totally different economic, political, and cultural environments”. For example, Uber failed to recognise that the common culture within the US is markedly different from that in other foreign countries. The US, has a strong penchant for individualism. This cultural nuance differs from the behavioural norm in Asia, where often social community and harmony are emphasised over individual interests. In China for instance, there is a great emphasis on personal relationships, an everlasting sense of family and community and all round kinship. These values permeate into the country’s very being, thus shaping the opinions of the people. With this in mind, Uber’s very aggressive entry tactics into the Chinese market (based on their US approach of ‘enter first, legalities later’), and its difficulty in forming trusting local relationships, would obviously not be appreciated by Chinese consumers who would much rather choose a local and trusted competitor service. This is why, ‘In large foreign markets like China and India, locally grown competitors say they hold a much bigger market share than Uber because they have a deeper understanding of the culture’.

 

A brighter future?

Apart from its problems garnering appeal in Asia, Uber has faced a backlash in European countries too due to its disregard for the civil law system (as opposed to US common law) that is followed in most of continental Europe. In France, Uber is regarded as an ‘American invader’ and has not been assimilated locally. Due to this, future marketing plans involve a major advertorial campaign in France, starting with a massive takeover of billboards around French transit hubs, showing local French people riding in Ubers, with taglines that play on Uber’s name. Hopefully this time around, their message won’t get lost in creative translation.

 

As part of their new campaign, Uber has decided to broaden its target audience, showing the app as one that safely allows women to travel home late at night, or one that enables older couple to attend weddings. It will also highlight the economic benefits of Uber, showing that Uber is helping increase employment, especially in rural areas. Thibaud Simphal, general manager of Uber France, who admitted that it was foolish to think that the same strategies used in the US would translate seamlessly into France also stated that, “It has been a mistake not to talk about the benefits of the product”.  In a country where people are concerned with unemployment rates, including positive data about the same to promote a brand is a good marketing strategy – one that is more likely to appeal to locals. Uber seems to have considered local social issues, using these as leverage to promote positive brand image.

 

On a more visual level, Uber is set to launch 65 new color palettes and patterns for its app, creatively translated and based on a country’s local colour preference. These new colour schemes take into consideration the various meanings of colours in different countries and are meant to represent ‘authentic expressions of  real world diversity’.

 

Small is the new big

Considering both Airbnb and Uber, it’s easy to see who takes the cake in terms of global marketing strategy. Increased digital connectivity and high demand for cheaper peer-to-peer services such as housing, taxi rides, chore completion and more has contributed to, and will continue to contribute to, the immediate acceptance of companies such as  Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit, DogVacay, etc. However, for these companies to expand internationally in an effective manner, their global marketing strategies must be carefully formulated. Due to the nature of sharing economies, it’s very easy for these companies to get ahead of themselves. The key here is to not direct efforts solely on rapid and general expansion, but rather, in Goedegebuure’s words, focus on “getting small”.

Read More
leftover women china, textappeal, cross cultural translation

SK-II: Successful Marketing Through Social Adversity in China

  |   CultureShocks Blog

 

Skincare brand SK-II entered the Chinese market nearly 20 years ago. Targeting this colossal growing market, the Japanese company has invested lots of creative translation in advertisements and marketing campaigns so as to spread awareness and gain loyal customers. SK-II has leveraged the popularity of actors like Jianhua Huo (who has over 20 million followers on social media), not only to promote its products, but also to spread awareness of relevant social and economic issues.

In its latest campaign, SK- II decided to tackle the prominent and controversial issue of China’s “leftover women” or “sheng nu” by showcasing normal women in their advertisements.

 

In China, traditions dictate that women should be married by the age of 25. China’s one child policy has created an extreme gender imbalance in China with around 20 million more men under 30 than women under 30. Due to sons being preferred, many “would-be” daughters would be aborted. All this makes finding a match even more difficult despite the implementation of the two-child policy in January, 2016. Also, due to the increasing urbanisation of the country, combined with a highly competitive job market, many women are now choosing careers first, and marriage second. This shift in women’s priorities has given the Chinese government cause for concern, due to an increasingly aging population, and has resulted in them deeming these career driven women, as “leftover” and undesirable to potential husbands. The social repercussions of this are numerous, and include the pressure of parental and familial disappointment, social stigma and fear of being alone.

 

The SK-II campaign brings to light the injustices that affect these women by portraying females who choose to be independent. This issue resonates strongly with SK-II’s young female target audience who, in the prime of their lives, will greatly benefit from positive and encouraging advertising that opposes the governmental messages that ridicule them.

 

This campaign departs from SK-II’s previous strategies, which involved heavy celebrity endorsement, and portrays a clear and important message. The new brand ambassadors are easy to relate to, and face the same issues as many young women in China. This emotive use of advertising ensures that SK- II’s target consumers feel that the brand understands them. The raw emotion and honesty shown, as opposed to a pre-written script, support China’s “leftover” women in their independence, and demonstrate a positive step towards mobilising them to embrace single life at 25 and beyond.

 

On the other side of the spectrum, there are critics that remain opposed to aspects of the campaign, namely the very quick change of attitude on the parents’ behalf as seen in the video. They claim that a more logical result would be the overall dismissal of the age-old customs that surround marriage, showing truly independent women in both mind and actions.  Nonetheless, SK-II has successfully engaged in a marketing campaign that addresses more than simply an advertorial purpose. As put by Patrick Kulp (a journalist from Mashable), the campaign is “a heart-wrenching commercial that empowers the single ‘leftover women’ of China” and indeed, it does exactly that.

Read More
global marketing, translation, translate business, transcreation, translate website, translate your marketing campaign

The Best Languages to Target for International Marketing

  |   CultureShocks Blog

Having a marketing campaign translated into different languages is a great way to reach audiences who may not be well versed with the primary language of your campaign. However, choosing the right languages to translate your campaign into can be quite challenging, especially considering there are so many options out there. That’s why we’ve compiled a handy list of the top 10 languages to translate your campaign into, with the facts and figures on why these languages are your best bet:

 

1. Spanish

 

Around 427 million people across 31 countries speak Spanish, making it the second most widely spoken language worldwide! This isn’t surprising, considering that Spanish is the second most popular language in Europe and the fourth in the world. In the United States alone, there are already 36 million Spanish speakers. The Hispanic population in the US is projected to double by 2050, meaning that Hispanic people will make up 30% of the population in America. As a language for websites, Spanish makes up about 4.9% of online content. Ultimately, in terms of native speakers around the globe, Spanish precedes English too, making it a crucial language to translate your campaign into!

 

2. English

 

English is spoken in 106 countries, making it a very widespread language. There are 339 million English speakers, and 27% of Internet users prefer English. English is the most used language on the Internet by far, dominating with more than half (53.6%) of content languages for websites in English, followed by Russian (6.4%), German (5.6%) and Japanese (5.1%). E-commerce sales in 2015 were booming in English speaking countries with $349.06bn in the US, $93.8bn in the UK and $28.7bn in Canada.

 

3. Chinese

 

There are a total of 1.3 billion Chinese speakers in the world with Chinese spoken in about 35 countries, making it the most widely spoken language worldwide. It has a 2% usage of content language for websites, with about 674 million Internet users in China. The number of Chinese Internet users far outweighs Hindi speaking users (375 million), Spanish speaking Internet users (222 million) and Portuguese speaking users (117 million).  In 2015, China and the US were by far the world’s leading e-commerce markets with sales of $562bn and $349bn respectively, followed by the UK ($93bn), Japan ($79bn) and Germany ($73bn). China’s growth over the next five years will widen the gap between the two countries and will exceed $1 trillion in retail e-commerce sales by 2018. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the country’s economy is 7 times larger today than it was 15 years ago. Chinese businesses are spreading all over the globe, and thus the spread of Chinese as a language is also far reaching. With its steadily growing economy, China is definitely not a country to be ignored.

 

4. Arabic

 

Arabic is spoken in 58 countries, by a total of 267 million people, making it the fourth most spoken language worldwide. Egypt and Iran make up the majority of Arabic users on the Internet, with 95.1 million users from these two countries alone. The Middle East and Africa are among the fastest growing regions in terms of Internet news, and 0.8% of the usage of content for websites is Arabic. As Gulf economies bring down their trade and investment barriers, the Middle East seems to be a promising destination for economic growth. In a report from the British Council, which lists the top 10 languages of the future, Arabic ranks as the second most important language of the future.

 

5. French

 

With a total of 75.8 million speakers in 53 countries, French is a very popular language today. In fact, it is estimated that around 100–200 million people also speak French as a second language. 4.1% of content on the Internet is French, and this number is increasing. In countries like Algeria, Morocco, Vietnam and Cambodia, where there is a low proficiency in English, French is particularly useful as a lingua franca.

 

A study by investment bank Natixis even suggests that, by 2050, French could be the most-spoken language in the world, ahead of English and even Mandarin.

 

6. German

 

German is spoken in 26 countries with a total of 76.9 million speakers and it’s the third most used language online. Among European countries, Germany has a very promising future. It is the largest single export market for British goods apart from the United States, and is Europe’s largest economy with a GDP of more than $3.9bn.

 

7. Portuguese

 

Even though Portuguese is spoken in only 12 countries, a very large number of people – 206 million – speak it fluently. Portuguese is 2.6% of content language for websites. In Brazil itself, there are at least 182 million Portuguese speakers. In the African continent, 13.7 million people speak Portuguese, and in Europe too, Portuguese speakers are widespread (and not just in Portugal). Portuguese is also gaining popularity in Asia due to the region’s great diplomatic and economic relations with Portugal and Lusophone countries. According to an estimate by UNESCO, Portuguese and Spanish are the most rapidly growing European languages after English.

 

8. Russian

 

Russian is spoken in 17 countries, with 103 million Internet users in Russia alone, not to mention the millions more in post-Soviet states where Russian is still widely spoken. It’s the second most used language online, displacing German. Russia is also famous for its great engineering minds and brilliant IT community, and is definitely growing in terms of global business reach and influence.

 

9. Japanese

 

Japanese is only spoken commonly in 2 countries, but the sheer numbers of people who speak it – 128 million – make it a language that should be considered for advertising campaigns. There are 114 million Internet users in Japan, having e-commerce sales in 2015 of $79.33bn; this is not surprising, considering that Japan is one of the most technologically advanced and connected nations in the world.

 

10. Hindi

 

Similar to Japanese, Hindi is only spoken commonly in 4 countries. However, due to the vast and steadily growing population, there are more than 260 million Hindi speakers worldwide. India is the second most populous country in the world and as a growing economic power and part of the BRICS countries, India is a great target market for any marketing campaign.

 

The list above should give a brief overview on which markets are experiencing tremendous growth, and which languages will benefit your campaign should you consider tapping into these markets. Remember that your own market research should come first, and your target audience should heavily influence what markets you look to break into. If you’re interested in effectively translating your marketing campaign and adapting your message to different markets, contact Textappeal, the leaders in marketing translation and transcreation.

Read More
obama and putin cocacola crimea on how to avoid brand damage

How to Avoid Geopolitical Brand Damage

  |   CultureShocks Blog

Nobody wants to get caught in a fight between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, least of all if you’re the brand guardian of the most popular global carbonated soft drink on the planet. In December 30th a massive outrage erupted in Russia after the publication of a seemingly innocent map designed to celebrate the end of the New Year.

It’s no laughing matter to get caught in the middle of an argument between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, especially if you’re the brand guardian of the most popular carbonated soft drink on the planet. At the end of 2015 Coca-Cola published a seemingly innocent map depicting Crimea as part of Ukraine, sparking outrage amongst VK (Russia’s most popular social network) users.

cocacola without crimea on how to avoid brand damage l textappeal

Russia without Crimea: Russians offended

Russia’s bringing Crimean territory back into the motherland is highly popular with the local population. And while Coca-Cola’s link with Ukraine may please the American administration, it offended Russian nationals.

coca cola santa clause on how to avoid brand damage by textappeal

Is Santa an American provocateur?

VK was instantly saturated with fury against the iconic American brand, suddenly seen as an “Evil Imperialist” out to humiliate the Russian people. Could it be that Santa, the beloved figure popularised by Coca-Cola, was actually an American provocateur in disguise?

Although an innocent faux-pas, the map was all the more damaging as the brand was making a deliberate effort to tap into a local mindset via Russian cultural references.

cocacola with crimea on how to avoid brand damage

Crimea part of Russia: Ukrainians offended

In response to the VK community seething with outrage, Coca-Cola made a somewhat perplexing, 180-degree marketing translation turn. Instead of defusing the situation, Coca-Cola released a new version of the map that included Crimea and several other disputed territories within Russia’s border.

The move angered Ukrainians, who called for a boycott of Coke products. Following a barrage of angry tweets and images of Coca-Cola being flushed down toilets, the soft drink giant apologised and removed the offending map altogether.

This is far from an isolated incident. With frontiers quickly shifting in various parts of the world and cultural sensitivities running high, brands cannot afford to rest on long-held assumptions about national borders.

What to do?

how to avoid geopolitcal brand damage, textappeal

The CIA’s website is a good source for marketers to track geopolitical change

Microsoft has led the way by establishing a division that tracks geopolitical and cultural risk: all marketing executions are vetted by it, and its database of cultural issues to avoid is gradually enriched over time. Unfortunately this resource is not publicly available: the software giant sees it as a strategic asset.

The CIA’s website (www.cia.gov) is probably the best resource to stay up to date with geopolitical change. It provides some of the most accurate intelligence in the world, openly publishes a surprising amount of information, and is free!

Textappeal can help keep marketers and their agencies safe too, by systematically checking brand materials for cultural and geopolitical issues, validating executions for travel, and advising how to deal with cross-border dilemmas that may result in brand damage.

Read More

How Local Language Social Listening Pays Off for Global Marketers: The Mysterious Case of the Refractory Market

  |   CultureShocks Blog

One day, a successful Client Services Director from a well-known international ad agency came to us and said that he was stumped.

The global campaign that his agency had designed for their biggest client was a huge success, except for one important market in Asia. Nobody understood why. The product was brilliant, the advertising captivating. There were no obvious cultural issues: in-depth local focus groups had demonstrated the story, and its benefits were clear and memorable. As the client brief had specified, an “integrated omnichannel roll-out” had reached “every possible customer touch-point in a consistent, engaging, relevant and holistic way”.

Alas, whatever the brand said about itself and wherever it may have touched, customers in that particular market were for some mysterious reason still ignoring it. What could possibly be wrong? More importantly, what could he do about it? His client would call soon, and he needed answers.

textappeal transcreation, transcreation agency, creative translation

We explained to him that we have a tradition at Textappeal. For one day, early in the month of January, the youngest member of our team is dressed in an orange robe and sent to a Buddhist monastery. The brief is simple: say nothing all day, and be attentive to everything that happens. The next morning over a frugal breakfast, we ask what they learned, in the hope of gaining deep insights for the future success of our business.

“So what insights have you gained?”  the agency exec asked, curious.

“Well,” answered our Lead Director of Languages, “we reviewed the last 12 years, and three insights stand out.” She proudly listed them:

“Silence is a good way to recover from a New Year hangover, second only to Alka-Seltzer.”

“The monks who eat rice one grain at a time are slimmer than the ones who don’t.”
“Life is suffering, especially when seated on a cold floor without central heating.”


The adman glared at us. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! How can that possibly be relevant to your business ­­– or mine?”
“Look,” he added, trying to be helpful, “I’m Irish, and we like to talk a lot. In fact, I was so talkative that my Mum would say to me: ‘Liam, you have two ears and one mouth, use them in proportion…’”
“But unfortunately I don’t know any Asian languages.”
Seizing the opportunity to emote but entirely missing the point, our American CEO interjected “Hey, I have Irish blood too!”
Suddenly our Greek multilingual Newsroom listening expert, who nobody had noticed until then, exclaimed “Eureka!”, took his clothes off and started running around the room naked. A bright but relatively discreet young man, he had decided that this was his way to get our attention. He announced: “The solution is simple, buddy. In that market, you need to talk about the sensations that your product creates, not its benefits.” (Actually the project took a week, and he was not naked, but let’s keep the story moving!)

bart, textappeal, creative translation, storytelling, transcreation
We all stared at him, trying hard to stay focused on his face. The adman said: “First of all, I don’t see how you could possibly know that, given that everyone here seems clueless. Secondly, please get dressed.” And with that, he left.
Two weeks later, we received a call. “I don’t know how you did it, but you people are geniuses! Especially that naked dude.”
“What happened?” we asked.
“Well, we didn’t know what to do so I followed your advice and had the copy rewritten. We replaced the product benefits with customer sensations. Guess what? Sales went through the roof. My client is over the moon!”

creative translation, success, transcreation agency london
“I told her about you and she wants you guys to adapt the next campaign in 70 different languages. Send me a quote, OK? And give me your very best price!”
Later, the team huddled around our Greek oracle in celebration. Dressed in an orange silk robe, he handed out cups of green tea spiked with 50 percent proof ouzo, and explained:
“While you people were chattering, I had the brand’s keyword universe translated by our local writer. I put the results into our listening technology, turned a few dials, and about 30 local language blog posts and Twitter feeds tumbled in.”

genius, global campaign, transcreation, creative translation
“Then I asked our two local brand experts to give me a lowdown. They ran a word frequency check, sampled various bits and reported what was happening. People out there talk a lot about the sensations that this kind of product provokes, but you don’t hear anyone chatting about ‘benefits’.”
“They also explained to me that the market has predominantly a Buddhist cultural sensitivity, and people there learn how to be attentive to their inner sensations from an early age. You know, they practice a kind of mindful meditation.”
By that time we were all a little dizzy. “You know what guys,” said our Languages Director, slightly tipsy, “if you don’t listen, you speak nonsense. But if you can make sense of what people are actually saying in different markets and cultures, you can speak to them a lot more effectively.”
A Senior Project Manager added: “That’s how we’re different at Textappeal: we try to understand the local differences in how people think, talk and behave before we adapt a message.” Our CEO concluded: “Listen with two ears, speak with one mouth, in that proportion – brilliant! Perfect for my New Year’s resolution too, don’t you think?”
With that he rushed off to catch up with a client that wanted to know why their global corporate Twitter feed had less followers and shares than the competition.
The Greek yelled after him: “Don’t use the Irish line, boss. The client is Japanese and is allergic to your American-style emoting!”
“What should I do?” shot back the CEO as the elevator door closed.

“Maybe listen a little more than you talk, Chief,” came the answer.
Textappeal’s provides insightful listening for leading brands in over 120 languages. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

meditation, textappeal, newsroom, listening

Read More
asian social media sites

The Most Popular Asian Social Media Channels

  |   CultureShocks Blog

In less than a couple of decades, social media has become a global phenomenon. Membership growth dramatically increases year over year, and our most trusted platforms have become lifestyle mainstays. Today, nearly one third of the planet is active on social, yet many brands still struggle with cross-marketing, hitting target audiences, and other social media challenges. Due to the undeniable popularity, the importance of social media cannot be overstated.

The tricky part is this: Social media usage is quite different across all major global markets. For instance, while Facebook is the largest social network in America, it is nowhere near as powerful in other parts of the world.

As the undisputed leaders of technological advances, Asia is a digital destination that is impossible to ignore. If your brand is looking to make an impact in this crucial corner of the world, take heed of the social platforms that are currently at the top.

 

China

In this Asian economic powerhouse, popular western social sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are somewhat inaccessible. Instead, companies like Tencent and Baidu have developed the region’s leading platforms. In China, messaging app QQ is the dominating force with 860 million users, and the blogging platform QZone is next up with 653 million users. Both of these sites, as well as the third most popular social site in China, are all owned by Tencent.

Yet despite this fact, the most active social mobile app in China throughout 2015 was Weibo and their 222 million users; 100 million of which are daily users.

 

Japan  

The landscape is different here as major western networks Facebook and Twitter are widely used, but are far from the top rankings despite social media localisation. Google+ is in fact more popular than either of the aforementioned sites. Facebook actually functions as more of professional site like LinkedIn for its near 17 million Japanese users as only 34% of the country’s internet users are under 35. The reigning champ for social media in this region of the globe is a site called Line, boasting more than 50 million users. Line is a messaging app, not a traditional social network, but the site motivates users to follow brands and act upon their interests, which makes this an alluring option for retailers.

 

South Korea

While places like the UK and India share the same fascination with multilingual social media sites Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, South Korea is another place with destinations that are basically unheard of in the western world. These folks are the world leaders in internet connectivity, and a site called Kakao Talk reigns supreme with more than 48 million monthly active users. This app provides tools like access to free calls, multimedia messaging, and in-app shopping.

 

Singapore

In Singapore, western networks are the dominating force, most specifically WhatsApp, which reaches 46% of the country’s citizens. In fact, the region’s next four most popular networks (Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Google+) all hail from the west as well.

 

Read More
cross-cultural transcreation

Nissan’s Golf “Makeover” Taps Into Japanese Thirst for Endurance

  |   CultureShocks Blog

Most golf enthusiasts look at a round of 18 on the links as a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. The hazards, aside from wickedly slicing a ball into sand trap or lake, are few. But what would it be like to play on a course that offered a little more edge; where the hazards are sand dunes and waterfalls and instead of a golf cart you are asked to tear around from tee to tee in a SUV crossover?

A recent advertising promotion by Nissan did just that, by challenging Japanese car consumers as well as those with an affinity for adventure. The “X-Treme Golf Cup” pitted three competitors (out of 300 applicants) to play what the campaign billed as “18 holes of the most difficult golf ever played.” The players faced larger-than-life obstacles, such as braving deep caves, dense forests, and sheer cliffs over 1,934 kilometers during a 96 hour time period. The tournament’s grand prize was Nissan’s new X-Trail Hybrid—the same vehicle the three participants used to navigate the course. Check out Nissan’s short film on the challenge below:

In the 1 minute video, Nissan captures the appeal of why each golfer enjoys participating in such an outlandish event. (You can watch an extended version of the video here.) The agency responsible for the campaign, TBWA Hakuhodo, made a savvy decision when they decided on the creative path. Match the sensibilities of a Nissan crossover vehicle with gaman (我慢)—a term which loosely translates as “endurance.”

Gaman is a unique Japanese mentality. Derived from Zen Buddhist thought, the concept has a lot to do with surviving hardship and showing stoic endurance through difficult times. A write-up in The Australian following the devastating 2011 earthquake why gaman is an important cultural idea, that helps Japanese overcome natural disasters or simply find enjoyment in games where feats of mental and physical endurance are highly prized.

From the business world to the playground, gaman (also known as gaman kurabe, or a “test of wills”) dictates a cultural desire to persevere at any cost and to not be undone by any sort of challenge, large or small. It’s a competitive spirit that emerges at the slightest hint of any sort of personal challenge.

Apply the idea of gaman to a marketing campaign directed at young Japanese consumers, and it’s easy to see why coming up with the idea of the X-Treme Golf Cup was a no-brainer. Mastering golf is no easy task in of itself. Mix it with a course designed to challenge a person’s abilities, and Nissan gets a subtle, storytelling-driven car campaign that makes the brand instantly synonymous with endurance, without a need for hard marketing. The company’s softer angle toward product placement means the emphasis is not only about the car, but also about the adventure. In a day and age where endurance is what separates Japanese automobiles from the competition, Nissan gives itself an enduring new edge.

For more on cross-cultural transcreation and social media solutions, get in touch with: Sergio.arboledas@textappeal.com.

Read More