Top tips to overcome language barriers when marketing outside of Japan.

Global marketing is an art that extends beyond the mere translation of words. It includes understanding the local context, and the nuances in language, culture, and customs.

When done right, overcoming these language barriers can significantly boost the return on investment (ROI) of your overseas marketing efforts. Below are GK’s top tips to help you navigate these challenges.

Understanding Local Language Styles and Idioms.

Bad translations send a confusing message.
What not to do:
Use tools such as Google Translate, DeepL, or ChatGPT to translate any materials that will be seen by your customers. These tools can be useful for internal communication but cannot be trusted for end products.
 
What to do:
Go beyond literal translations. Hire native speakers or use local expertise to understand colloquial phrases, idioms, and slang that resonate with the local audience. If conducting business meetings or negotiations, use professional interpretation services.
 
Why it works:
This builds a connection with the audience, enhancing the relatability of your brand. Without it, you could end up falling foul of an unfortunate translation error.

Lean in on Visual Communication.

 Consistent visuals are key to global communication.
What not to do:
Take your current visual content and simply add subtitles or redub it into a new language. Mismatched voice work or visuals that do not suit the local culture will diminish your brand value.
 
What to do:
Produce content from the outset with a global audience in mind or be prepared to capture new content in each territory.
 
Why it works:
Visuals can communicate what words may struggle to, transcending language barriers. If you create content from the beginning with the intention to use it in multiple territories, you can plan ahead to capture additional or adapted content from the outset.

Leverage Local Marketing Experts.

Working with specialists can maximize ROI.
What not to do:
Assume that the marketing strategies that worked for you in Japan can be reused in a new market with only minor adjustments.
 
What to do:
Collaborate with local marketing agencies or consultants who understand the market, local customs, and social taboos.
 
Why it works:
Their insights can help you avoid common pitfalls and provide strategies tailored to local preferences. A cultural misstep while entering a new territory could unrecoverably stain your brand reputation.

Communication is not simply translation.

Expanding overseas allows you to tap into huge markets outside of Japan and can lead to a significant return on investment (ROI). Success in foreign markets requires a nuanced and sensitive approach, backed by strong strategies and the wisdom to adapt.

Japan’s tradition of excellence, attention to detail, and respect can be a powerful foundation, but understanding the perception of Japan in other countries is critical to how to position your brand. This is an area we at GK specialize in, so get in touch for a free exploratory consultation to learn more.

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