Act global, think local: How to successfully localise campaigns

The key to global campaign success is a strong localisation strategy. That’s precisely what global creative production is about – planning and managing a creative campaign from inception, through key localisation stages and all the way to the launch.

A strong localisation strategy can make or break a global campaign. When done right, it can help to convey a brand’s message in the right tone across different local markets, while taking into consideration local cultural sensitivities.

Follow our four-step guide to achieve global consistency and local relevance with your next campaign.

1. Work with the locals

Relying on central assumptions can be a recipe for disaster. Differences in culture, language, history and values can drastically impact the effectiveness of a brand’s message. As a result, what resonates in one market might have little to no impact in a number of others. That’s why it’s important to work closely with local teams and carry out market-specific research to ensure the creative idea can be successfully adapted.

Regular status updates will avoid unexpected feedback when it’s too late in the campaign or too expensive to make changes. These will also ensure greater buy-in from the markets, who will have more time to plan their local campaign and media buys.

Having the right people on board from the beginning can make all the difference, and this includes technical partners such as a localisation agency. In fact, local teams can add value every step of the way – for example, they can help inform a distribution plan by advising which social media platforms resonate the most in their market.

At the end of each campaign, encourage all involved to review, validate and share feedback so everyone learns for the next one. Remember: the overall aim is to come up with a campaign concept that meets the global brand aims and is adaptable for local market needs.

2. Every detail counts

A deep understanding of different market needs should inform every single word of a campaign. Most important is the tagline, which sits in prime position for most assets. It is the memorable signature of the brand or campaign but sometimes, when it comes to localisation, time pressures reduce this vitally important copy to just another piece of translation.

Beyond translating a global tagline for a local market, you need to be sensitive to things like:

  • Humour: something that is hilarious in Europe may not be funny in Asia. Worse still, it could be offensive. It is not impossible to make a funny tagline work in multiple markets, but do the research and tread carefully.
  • Metaphors: those related to local superstitions or proverbs may not apply to other markets, or resonate less strongly, therefore weakening the campaign.
  • Traditions: referencing local traditions can work really well, but be cautious when using ‘international’ traditions like Valentine’s Day for all markets, as they do differ.

Devote time to writing a transcreation brief and try to finalise all taglines as early as possible in the campaign to avoid misunderstandings or costly revisions later on. It is worth noting that many markets are happy with English language taglines. By consulting local brand managers and global creative production agencies it might become obvious that all that is needed is a change to the imagery.

3. Look beyond the words

Successful localisation only happens when the implementation plan looks beyond translation. That’s why it’s important to also consider imagery. Do the campaign’s visuals work for all markets or should they be replaced for local adaptation purposes? Consider the following elements:

  • Landscape: typical backgrounds and, of course, images of people will vary from market to market.
  • Animals: be aware of the various connotations animals carry in different cultures. A picture of children playing with a dog in their garden is an image of household happiness in Europe and the Americas, but would cause offence in the Middle East.
  • Colours: these are very important in some markets as they will have positive and negative associations and values that could support or scupper a campaign’s values.

And when it comes to design, remember that creative assets will need to accommodate a variety of copy lengths and styles so mock-up layouts for bilingual assets. This means allowing space for 50% additional text, coming up with creative approaches for right-to-left languages, and choosing fonts for all target markets.

4. Plan, plan and plan some more

There’s no magic – a campaign’s success owes a lot to a marketer’s ability to plan ahead. You can never predict all hurdles, but good planning upfront will prevent some headaches further down the line.

For a successful localisation strategy, global marketers should:

  • define end-to-end campaign processes
  • assign clear roles to global, regional and local teams, and establish a single point of contact to maintain consistency and keep knowledge flowing between translators, validators, developers, client stakeholders and the creative agency
  • determine what resources are available and fill any gaps by looking to internal service departments, global and local marketing teams, agencies or other suppliers
  • set up deadlines and project tracking against every deliverable for every market
  • gain valuable insights from past campaigns – can they identify any obvious product limitations, legal restrictions or cultural nuances that need to be considered from the outset?

There is no ROI until a campaign is launched and successful. So think about your localisation strategy from the start and take the brand further and faster than ever before.

Are you planning your next global campaign and looking to improve your processes? Our team of experts can help, today.