How do you create content that entices people to read and continue down the customer journey – internationally? Here are some tips for avoiding cultural traps in the content localization process. 


Try to understand each and every target audience: the language(s) they speak and the words that are going to make them convert. This may not be the same content, language or tone of voice that you use in the US, so gathering local audience insights will ensure you:

  • anticipate what content will appeal at each contact point
  • serve up content on relevant channel(s) in appropriate formats
  • write or localize copy that your customers will connect with, buy and share

It’s also crucial to continuously test and optimize your message because one single word can change everything – and one single word can be translated many ways.


Being aware of regional differences is vital if you want to market overseas and avoid cultural clashes. Differences in French and German movie trailers, for instance, can be traced back to cultural disparities in communication.  A recent study compared original German movie trailers with their French counterparts for the same film (‘Beziehungsweise New York’ and ‘Casse-tête chinois’), and found that German trailers:

  • are shorter
  • present little change of music
  • communicate a lot of information and avoid uncertainty
  • combine vocals with visuals to ensure viewers understand the message
  • show more violence, lack humor and tend to be more dramatic

French trailers are longer than German ones, but contain less information; things are evoked but not clearly expressed; violence tends to be avoided and the focus is on families and friendships rather than on wealth and business achievements. Humor is widely present and language plays an important factor.

What can these movie trailers teach us? They show that it’s vital to take into account differences based on cultural values when undertaking content localization for marketing or advertising.


After you’ve checked for cultural relevance, double checked local legitimacy and are content with your word selection, don’t forget to also check for fine prints and labels like washing instructions – especially for language, such as “shrinkage” and “stretch.”

It’s also important to consider how much space you have. For instance, while a catchy CTA might appear short and concise in English, its translation could span multiple words. This might cause you to have to reduce your font size, remove surrounding text or simply choose another phrase.


Avoiding cultural traps and making sure content is locally compelling takes time, global resources and dedication. Taking it a step further, capturing brand personality abroad requires a tailored marketing strategy. So don’t hesitate to reach out to localization experts who can help you drive effective, local messaging that produces positive results.