Localising Your Images for International Success

Localising Your Images for International Success Image credit: Shutterstock/testing

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, if that’s the case, you should be localising them! If you’re adapting your marketing messaging from your domestic market to reach audiences in another, you need to consider how the images you place alongside them are going to be received by the same audience.

Some brands create a single set of campaign images to fit every market they operate in. But it’s not the best approach if you want to make deep connections with international audiences as images that are appropriate in your domestic market might ruffle feathers overseas. In many cases, you’ll need to consider adapting your images as part of your wider international marketing strategy.

In today’s fast-paced and information-rich world, images hold just as much value and power as words and are an effective tool to communicate your brand values.

Get it wrong when you’re communicating to audiences in different parts of the world, and it could spell disaster for your international marketing campaigns.

In recent years, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry have been criticized for marketing campaigns that were tone-deaf to local Chinese sentiment. In Dolce & Gabbana’s case, the Italian luxury fashion brand has still yet to recover from its controversial 2018 ad campaign that depicted a Chinese model wearing a red sequin dress eating pizza with chopsticks.

Getting image localisation right

If you’re adapting your marketing messages or creating unique campaigns for different markets, adhering to cultural sensitivity best practices is a prudent approach to creating effective campaigns.

Controversy might work well in certain markets in the West but might not work very well in others. In some countries in the Middle East, for example, women are not portrayed at all in advertising. Even Starbucks resorted to removing the mermaid out of its logo in Saudi Arabia in order to meet the expectations of the market.

In some cases, it’s not always feasible to shoot new images for every new campaign in each market. If that’s the case, applying a localisation-first strategy to the images you create would be the most effective approach.

In practice, this could look like shooting a broad range of images taking into consideration your international customers. Providing global partners with access to your digital asset management system so they can choose which images are best suited for their market based on local knowledge is a good approach.

If you’ve invested in a partnership with a language service provider to localise your content, you should make use of their local knowledge and exposure to the markets you operate in to help you avoid any potential problems with your images and video content.

Want more brand localisation tips like this with examples of how some of the world’s top retail and travel brands connect with international customers? We partnered with Econsultancy on a research report identifying localisation opportunities and challenges with a panel of eight leading brand marketers.

You can download the report for free below.

Download Report

Written by Demetrius Williams
Demetrius Williams
Demetrius Williams is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Toppan Digital Language and has previous eCommerce experience working with a number of luxury brands in the fashion and beauty industry. He enjoys photography, binge-watching Netflix and can often be found roaming around London with a camera in his hand.

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