Brand Strategy Remote Working Globalization

Going global, but keeping it local: the role of linguistics in a global strategy

By Florence Bundy, Chief Operating Officer



The Drum Network article

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October 10, 2022 | 7 min read

How do you maintain consistency across your brand while going global, without alienating your new target audience? For The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive, Florence Bundy of The Tomorrow Group dissects the power of linguistics when appealing to new international markets.

Woman looking overTokyo skyline

Cultural awareness is key when marketing to new international audiences, as is remaining authentic while doing it / Ben Blennerhasset via Unsplash

In a digitally connected world, it’s not just international corporations that can gain worldwide traction. There’s no reason why small- and medium-sized businesses can’t start making an impact on a global scale. They just need to bear in mind that, when it comes to digital discoverability, specificity is always key.

It’s tempting when embarking on a global strategy to devise sweeping international work that makes mass deployment easy and quick to do. However, universal truths like ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ will always be just that – the truth. We all know how important context is when optimizing any potential consumer touchpoint, so you simply cannot lose sight of this fundamental fact.

Lost in translation

How do you go about delivering large campaigns on a global scale, while managing to implement the specificity, informed targeting and nuanced contextual framing that your work needs to truly succeed? How can you give your activities the necessary local touch that they need to make an impact at every possible opportunity, when your team can’t possibly be everywhere or know everything about everyone at once?

We firmly believe that international campaigns, especially linguistically nuanced work such as SEO or PPC activities (which we specialize in), aren’t automatable. Yet they need to be done as efficiently as possible.

As a brand, you need a native speaker to work on your core messaging and embed local linguistic or cultural nuances into your copy. That’s what will give you the greatest chance of success in an unfamiliar market.

Translation software is built to use the source language used only, has no consideration for local linguistics or cultural nuances, and works by finding the closest direct translation of the source language inputted – meaning teams that rely solely on these tools are left using terminology and phrases that may lack the specificity needed to employ fully-optimized SEO and PPC activity in their desired regions.

By using software to aid efficiency, you massively undermine any benefits brought about by any audience and keyword analysis you’ve done because words might translate, but the nuances don’t. All your work will have been done for an audience in one language.

To successfully globalize your brand’s presence, you need to adapt and optimize the copy and formats you use based on the country that you want to enter – and that needs to be done by an individual or team situated in your desired location, with the local knowledge necessary to optimize your strategy for that market.

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A bespoke approach

We believe that the best thing you can invest in for global campaigns is ‘transcreation,’ rather than translation. You should be generating content specifically tailored for local markets, and not just using a direct translation of what works for your current clientele.

But it’s not possible for you to have teams working on transcreation campaign activity in every country, right? While that may be true for many, it is still possible to have someone in (or from) each country involved with your campaign, working on your activity. The wonders of remote working in our current digital age mean that engaging local freelancers to enhance the work that you’re doing has never been easier.

Employ specialist experience

We’re a boutique, specialist agency, but we can deliver international SEO and PPC campaigns because of the Foundry Network. International freelancers can localize global campaigns perfectly and ensure that the product or service offerings being marketed are both linguistically and culturally relevant to new target markets. This has been the key to helping our clients achieve growth at scale.

There’s no reason why your business shouldn’t be able to engage freelancers the same way, or benefit from already-established networks as our clients do. Whether it’s written words or creative assets, you must ensure that your international campaigns are localized right through, and this is the newest and best way to achieve that.

The most successful companies know when to outsource others’ expertise. Employing teams with local knowledge and specialist experience is the most surefire way to guarantee efficiency in a new market. Not enough people are aware that engaging international freelancers is a viable option for them and, in our eyes, it’s the best option to guarantee successfully localized global campaigns.

For more on what marketers and their partners need to do to succeed on a global level, check out The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive.

Brand Strategy Remote Working Globalization

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