Unless you are one of the “big boys” with an internationally recognized logo like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, you’ll need to localize your logo for the foreign audience you seek. Luckily, there are strategies to cater to international audiences for your next PR campaign!
Google translate is not your answer when you want to target a foreign audience, even as it continues to advance. Even in English, there are different variations when you venture to countries like England. A classic example is “color” versus “colour.” It gets even more complicated once you venture outside of English-speaking countries–many words have completely different connotations in foreign languages. There might not be an exact translation for the word or phrase, and the interpretation could even be considered offensive in some cultures.
You also need to consider numbers when designing your logo. If you have numbers in your logo, ensure they are in the right format for your audience. For example, in Chinese culture, the number four is considered bad luck–it’s associated with death. Needless to say, if you put that number in your logo and tried to market to China, you might not be as successful as if you used the number eight, which is China’s luckiest number.
Fonts are also incredibly important when considering crafting logos for a foreign audience. For example, italics do not work in many some Southeast Asian languages– such as Hindi, Japanese and Chinese. Italics either don’t exist or aren’t widely used, so they’re not recognized.
You also need to take into consideration that some languages also take up more space, extraordinarily complex languages like Chinese or Russian. Your re-design will need to take this into account. This goes for spacing between words as well.
Images can be a critical factor in a logo that can determine whether they either connect with a foreign audience or repel them. For example, in western cultures, the owls are a symbol of wisdom. In other cultures, they’re considered unlucky omens.
As with your language, ensure that the symbols you are using in your logo are not offensive to the audiences you are targeting. You want to anticipate cultural needs rather than blindly curating a logo and having it backfire because it was culturally inappropriate and then have to re-do it from scratch.
Just as images must be culturally appropriate, so must colors. Again, internationally recognized brands oftentimes don’t need to alter their logos, even if the colors are a bit offensive because they’ve already established credibility. Smaller businesses aiming to gain a global market cannot afford to be offensive. So, remember to check your logo colors to be sure that they have the same meaning for those foreign audiences as they do for your native country. For example, the color white may mean cleanliness where you live, but it can mean the end of life in another country.
You have to consider that tailoring your logo to individual countries is a reality. When you do embark on re-designing your logo for foreign audiences, you need to keep it as simple and as consistent as possible. The colors, fonts and images may have to change, but you need to make those changes as minimal as possible.
To achieve this, you will most likely need professional help. Reputable translation/localization services like The Word Point are a great resource. You want a service that has members of your target audience on its staff, to act not only as translators but also as advisors. They can take a look at your current logo and make design change suggestions and recommendations that will allow your logo to be well-received in their cultures.
Your logo is your introduction to an audience. It is how you become recognized by those audiences. Don’t make the mistake of leaving that design to chance and guesswork or merely translating any wording you have on your current one. Do your research, seek professional advice, and re-design that logo as necessary and as many times as you must to make the most impact for your next international PR campaign!
Until next time!
Erica Sunarjo graduated from South Texas College majoring in marketing and creative writing. She used her knowledge to make a difference in the realm of business copywriting and invested heavily in traveling and language learning. Currently, Erica is fluent in French and Spanish, studying Chinese and working her way to being a multilingual copywriter. She keeps track of the latest trends in IT and technologies, blogs about efficient strategies in education and business coaching and holds educational webinars.