Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Bridging the Communication Gap across Cultures

Bridging the Communication Gap across Cultures

By: Hayder Al-Ani

Doing business globally presents both a myriad opportunities and challenges. While businesses can reap greater market share and economies of scale outside their home country borders, they are also exposed to new and complex foreign languages, cultures and customs. The slightest miscommunication can sound the death knell if businesses are not cautious. Image Source:

Applying a blanket market strategy across each and every country in which a company does business is, put plainly, a naïve thing to do. Not only are countries different in terms of the languages they speak, but can also differ in their degree of openness, directness, socialization, individual and community values, religion and even body language and gestures.

Before taking that big plunge to enter into a new market, companies should ideally do their due diligence and research beforehand in order to ensure a smooth launch. Each and every marketing campaign must be carefully scrutinised and tested. What works in one country may not necessarily work in another – even if they may be neighbours. Each country has its own unique cultures and traditions – in fact most countries are home to a host of different subcultures, languages, religions, etc. that make them complex and ever-changing systems.

The mantra of ‘think globally, act locally’ is key. You have to tailor your message (however subtly) in order to properly attract and engage foreign audiences. Know which media vehicles to use, how frequently to use them and how best to communicate. Remember that knowing the mind of your international customers is just as important (if not even more) as crafting the right message for them to raise awareness, increase sales or whatever it is you intend to achieve through your marketing campaign.

No doubt we have all stumbled upon some bizarre and awkward communication gaffes suffered by companies internationally. Even the very largest companies with their own full-fledged marketing and public relations departments have occasionally fallen victim. Not even global companies like Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, KFC, Pepsi, IKEA and UPS have escaped cultural miscommunication. But what’s important to take home from their obvious shortcomings is the fact that in each case, the company (or the ad agency under contract) failed to read the local culture and adjust the message accordingly. In other words, the right localisation just wasn’t there.

To communicate effectively across borders, you need competent and effective localisation services that have a solid track record of delivering results. Their portfolios should be exemplary as is their list of previous clients. The ideal localisation service should sure that your marketing and communication materials are translated and transliterated in the perfect manner. In this case, instead of hiring out a typical ad agency, consider doing business directly with interpreting and translation companies. Doing so will help you effectively avoid any potential communication mishaps that have plagued many companies (both large and small) over the years.

A good name in the UK interpreting and translation market is Convocco Ltd, which has a fine history of serving its clients with professional and dedicated interpreters and translators on call. As globalization continues to go unabated, no company wants to be left behind. Foreign markets present tantalizing potentials for companies seeking expansion and greater global visibility. As such, you should tailor your communications internationally the right way. Avoid slipping up in your international communications by doing business with interpreting and translation companies. Look to companies like Convocco Ltd, among other good service providers, for tailoring and localising your content across borders.