Language, our ultimate connecting tool
Marketers of the world today face a two-fold challenge: Not only to create and execute great creative ideas and campaigns, but also to ensure that they will travel the globe safely and work vividly in every single local market. In a world with increasing interconnectivity, there has been a paradigm shift away from homogeneity towards unique cultural identities. As we come together, we become more different.
In the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, in the distant past, all of mankind spoke the same language. But, when Babylonians tried to build a great tower, as high as heaven itself, God punished their blasphemy by shattering not only the tower, but Language itself. Where there was once a single tongue, there were now thousands of languages, scattered across the earth. Ever since, humanity has been limited by language barriers.
Language is our ultimate connecting tool. Spoken, written, and visual language, and even the language of song and melody are all teased and tested across lingual and cultural borders. The creation of truly global messaging is the Holy Grail for marketers. Because language is more than a communication tool alone, it is at the very essence of human communication; it is both the journey and the destination.
So, the challenge remains: How to get messaging and campaigns authentic in all the details, across so many different cultures, local sensitivities, and language nuances? How to grasp all in-market insights and safeguard full cultural intelligence to make a message resonate to local audiences throughout the world?
At Hercules we believe that language intelligence and higher copywriting skills are the key to successful tailoring of a global campaign. Brilliant localized language is crucial and can only be achieved by going deep into local languages’ nuances, tricks, curiosities, and ruses, and avoiding blunders and errors that may put the brand at risk and create costly consequences. It is this localization that creates true resonance and impact. There is truth in language and making great ideas and campaigns that ring true for an audience spell brand success.
The reverse is also true – bad language, careless, sloppy or rudimentary localization can spell disaster.
Just ask HSBC.
The banking giant’s successful “Assume Nothing” U.S. campaign was slated for global proliferation. But copywriters made the cringe-worthy faux pas of literally translating the powerful message into the less than exemplary slogan “Do Nothing”. Not exactly the messaging HSBC was counting on to catch new customers. The bank learned the hard way through a multi-million dollar mistake that language is not a simple translation algorithm.
Yet, it is hardly the first or last brand to try going global only to fail locally. General Motors and Chevrolet Chevy Nova would surely sympathize and agree that simple translation is not effective communication. The auto giants crumbled under spectacularly bad translations in the Latin American markets.
These heavy weights have learned the hard way what we at Hercules believe as our core mission: Where the goal is to go global, the path is to excel locally. And to excel locally, local insight and vision in language and culture are the key to authenticity. Language is more complex than just words. It is a reflection of the human spirit.