The 5 Dos and Don’ts of Global Content Creation and Transcreation


As a global brand, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is using the umbrella approach when creating content. While you want your brand to provide a consistent user experience, it also needs to attract regional markets and engage local audiences. Skyword’s 2020 Content Marketing Trends Report reaffirms this.

When polling B2B and B2C marketers representing organizations with an international presence, Skyword found that 56% of respondents agreed on one thing: Global content creation will become more important over the next two years. The report also shows that among marketers who create global content, 80% plan to tailor assets destined for the United States to other regional markets.

But what does adapting content to global markets, a process also known as transcreation, involve? And is there a right way to go about it? Pepsi has learned the hard way what not to do when they entered the Chinese market with this tagline: Pepsi brings you back to life. They didn’t realize that when the slogan was translated into Mandarin it actually read like “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”

If there’s one lesson to be learned from this and other recurring miscommunication anecdotes, it’s that simply translating content – or, worse, relying on machine translation – is not the key to high-quality global content. In short: when done right, transcreation will ensure that these deceased ancestors don’t show up anywhere in your content marketing.

Rather than converting messages from one language to another into wood like Google Translate would, transcreation revives your content for regional markets while being sensitive to nuances and cultural norms. Successful transcreation ensures that the content is:

  • legible.
  • technically accurate.
  • adapted to its target market.
  • aligned with accurate supply and images.
  • optimized for local search.

Transcreation enables you to deliver content that is accessible and elicits an emotional response in local audiences, helping you meet them where they are, wherever they are in the world. Once you’ve built tailoring resources to a global audience into your overall content marketing plan, here’s how to effectively locate each piece.

Prioritize assets to transcreate

Let’s face it: Transcreating is a commitment. It takes a lot of time, money and effort. A smart way to do this is to start by prioritizing the parts to transcreate.

You should choose the content based on its relevance and performance. For example, if a particular blog post is performing well with your American audience, it is a good idea to transcreate and localize it for regional markets. Likewise, if a piece of content seems highly relevant to a particular market, its transcreation allows you to maximize your initial return on investment.

Not: Wasting time transcreating technical, legal and internal documents. Instead, focus your efforts on customer-facing content and marketing materials.

Develop a detailed creative brief

From local and global marketing teams to the transcreator and proofreader, there are many people involved in the transcreation process. This means that there is plenty of room for miscommunication. To improve collaboration and minimize the risk of misunderstandings, you will need a detailed creative brief including:

  • content goals or objectives.
  • insights from the target audience.
  • brand backgrounds.
  • brand guidelines.
  • key message.
  • sourcing, visual and SEO guidelines.

A well-written creative brief and effective content workflow sets clear expectations, maintains accountability, and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Not: Forget to specify which words do not need to be translated, like the names of products or services.

Work with native speaker writers

Transcreation takes more than just changing words. It is about deepening regional markets and understanding the target audience, while taking into account their needs, emotions and cultural nuances. Given the complexity of transcreating a job, it makes sense to work with native language writers. They will likely have a better understanding of the language and its idioms, phrases, colloquialisms, references, expressions and other nuances.

Not: Rely on text translation to convey the context and intent of your content.

Perform local keyword research

As SEO goes hand in hand with creating global content, so does transcreation of content for regional markets. You need to identify the target keywords that would help your content rank higher in local search results. Performing local keyword research also helps you identify the challenges of your target audience, allowing you to create content that better fills the gap.

Suppose you have optimized an English blog post for the keyword “visual content marketing”. You can’t just do the same when transcribing the Spanish blog post because the keyword might not be the most comparable phrase. Instead, you’ll need to do local keyword research to find more specific phrases with massive search volume in the Spanish market.

Not: Forget about optimizing your content for search engines other than Google, such as Bing, Yahoo, Naver, and Baidu, among others, which might be more popular in a particular region. For example, Yandex (not Google) is the main search engine in Russia.

Select suitable images

While creating global content involves transcreating the text, it is equally important to ensure that the supporting images match the sensitivities of the local market. Looking for the perfect visual to effectively communicate your message, but what happens when the image fails to evoke the right emotions or, worse, comes across as offensive? This is where image localization comes in.

Go for appropriate images that speak to and are familiar to your local target audience. One brand that does image localization well is Roku. They highlight different images to reflect shows that are popular with their respective audiences, thus compelling users to take the desired action. Notice how their “What to Watch” page differs in the US and France versions.

US Roku website

Image attribution: US Roku website.

Roku France website

Image attribution: Roku France website.

Not: Use gestures, religious symbols, animals or any other graphics that may have different meanings and offend certain communities.

Take-out meals for successful global content creation

Having a strong global content strategy in today’s global marketplace is imperative, and a one-size-fits-all approach is certainly not enough. Go beyond literal translations and find out how you can use transcreation to effectively localize content and tailor it to regional needs. These essential dos and don’ts will help you deliver content that will appeal to your global audience and help them engage with your brand.

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Featured Image Attribution: Bas Masséus to Pexels.

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Jenny T. Curlee