The Importance of Reflecting Culture

business meeting with people from different cultural backgrounds
October 6, 2022

In the digital age, it’s easier than ever for businesses of all sizes to connect with global markets and opportunities. Thanks to a simple internet connection, you can expand your business by reaching potential consumers thousands of miles away. This available connection is a start. However, there is much more work is needed for your message to reach your target audience with the intended context. If your content needs translating into different languages, translating content word for word is not enough. It is vital for your brand message to include the necessary context to reflect the appropriate cultural nuances.  

Not understanding cultural differences is one of the major barriers to a company’s success on a global scale, even if you are proficient in translating your content word for word. As a result, promoting your company in several languages is only efficient when you have a solid grasp of its cultural nuances.  

Understanding Cultural Differences is Crucial in Language 

Cultural differences can affect every aspect of your international initiatives, from internal operations to marketing campaigns carrying into your written materials. This content includes employee manuals or HR documents, social media posts, advertisements, and instructions for your team. All content needs to have the proper language translation with an effective meaning.  

Understanding a Language Means Comprehending a Culture  

Think of the last conversation you had with a colleague or the last social media post you created designed to grab attention. Chances are you didn’t use polished and technical language but instead, incorporated a bit of slang. This may be commonplace in your lexicon, but it has a different meaning in other corners of the world. 

Flashback to Some Translations That Failed to Interpret the Target Message  

One of the most infamous examples of an improper translation was a disastrous Pepsi marketing campaign in the 1960s which advertised the tagline, “Come alive! You’re in the Pepsi generation.” Well, in China, this message directly translates to, ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.’ In a culture where ancestors are highly respected and revered, the marketing campaign created quite a negative blowback locally in China. Considering this situation, you can see how a simple translation cannot always capture the appropriate meaning for each distinctive culture.  

This difference in cultural meaning  doesn’t just impact the occasional slogan or marketing verbiage. Not having a professional language interpreter at appropriate business functions can also cause problems because of cultural misunderstandings.  

A small American company that started hiring international employees had a reality check regarding what language barriers are all about. In a company-wide conference call, management told a team member that their proposal was a “no brainer.” This caused problems and damaged the company’s morale for those employees who did not understand this American slang term. A team member complained to his coworkers about feeling humiliated since he believed the manager had called him stupid and didn’t have a brain in a public forum.  

Simply put, understanding the terminology is crucial for your audience, and some common phrases do not translate on a cultural level.  

Cultural Differences in Everyday Business Operations  

Around the world, there are significant differences in how a firm does business, including daily employee instructions and memos to the entire organization. For example, the word “yes” usually means an agreement in Western cultures. However, In Eastern cultures, “yes” is often understood as the message was received and not necessarily agreed with yet.  

Additionally, how you deliver instructions or important information can be affected by the cultural background of the person or people you are working with. 

In the US or the UK, it’s common to simply deliver expectations to an employee, such as “Please send me the report by Thursday.” However, in other cultures, it is expected to explain the reasons why this instruction was delivered, e.g., “Please deliver me the report by Thursday, because we are meeting with the client on Friday morning at 8:00 am.” 

Conversations, Presentations, and Everything in Between 

Connecting with an audience means going beyond translating content and presenting ideas. Here are some factors to consider when interpreting or translating a message for appropriate context and meaning.  

  • If you give a pitch or a presentation to a prospective client in a different country, how long should the presentation be? 
  • Should you start with personal details and familiarity to create a rapport, or should you get right to business to show that you respect their time?  
  • What bullet points will resonate with a prospective client, and what attributes of your company are important to them?  
  • Is your international client focused on the past – like your company’s work history, reputation, and resume – or are they looking at the new initiatives you can offer in the future? 

All of these nuances boil down to understanding the cultural differences of one country or group of people vs. another. At INGCO International, this is a phenomenon we completely understand, inside and out. 

 WordologistsSM  Go Beyond Translations 

There’s a vast difference between a traditional translator or interpreter and INGCO’s WordologistsSM.  That difference is directly tied to understanding the innumerable differences between cultures in all aspects of the professional realm.  

Our WordologistsSM specialize in effectively and quickly translating more than 200 languages, but more importantly, they facilitate this detail-oriented work with a constant eye on localization.  

Localization is made up of idioms, puns, pop-culture references, geographic humor, and all the emotional language associated with a given culture. In general, this transforms a simple translation into a compelling message.  

If you can communicate with your clients, partners, and employees in a way that aligns with their cultural values and expectations, you have already set the stage for success in all future endeavors. 

Our WordologistsSM specialize in this perfect blend of translation and localization for written materials of all varieties. Still, this magic begins with your company’s brand, objectives, goals, and target audience. By first understanding exactly what you need to accomplish and how these goals reflect and intertwine with your business’ culture and values, we can build a bridge to create better and more effective connections worldwide. 

Reflect the Right Cultural Meaning with INGCO International  

Remember, a first impression is critical when it comes to global expansion. It’s extremely easy to make a minor cultural misstep, which can affect your relationships and progress.  There can be a common practice, phrase, or way to communicate that doesn’t translate with your new audience. 

At INGCO International, we are experts at bridging these cultural divides for corporations and companies of all sizes to ensure a smooth first impression, positive interaction, and a well-defined path to future success.  

Our team guarantees success in your international endeavor by ensuring all the nuances of professional translation – including cultural differences that are easily accounted for and artfully handled. Contact our team today