Scaling marketing and creative production for domestic growth can be challenging enough. Adding another layer of global marketing where your teams have to address varying cultures, languages, and preferences? The complications grow exponentially. European counterparts may be more accustomed to the marketing localization process – as their close proximity to many countries makes marketing localization the norm. But US offices are often less familiar with global marketing best practices and can struggle finding ways to work effectively with international colleagues.

When you’re trying to scale (fast!), your in-market teams across the globe can be incredible partners for streamlining operations while maximizing performance. But for that to happen, you’ll need to reach alignment and make sure all teams have the knowledge, management strategies, systems, and workflows in place to succeed.

Developing the all-important trust in your working relationships takes time. Solid localization processes can be hard to nail, but can help you hit your stride when they are properly established. Here are tips for achieving alignment and moving forward faster – together.


Below are some of the main areas where we see our clients – at all levels of experience and size – struggle in their international marketing efforts. Get ahead of these common mistakes to reduce frustrating revisions, allow for quicker turnaround times, and ultimately deliver a more successful outcome for your organization.

The message is poorly translated and not customized to the market

Marketing localization goes beyond direct translation. Messaging from a successful domestic campaign may miss the mark entirely for what a different global audience cares about. There may be idioms and cultural references that just don’t translate. Or the content may simply be factually incorrect for the local market conditions. Worse, it may be culturally insensitive. It might ignore a timely, in-market trend that impacts how your global audience will receive your brand’s message.

Surprisingly, companies of all sizes give in to tempting shortcuts when adapting messaging for an international market. The impulse to translate expediently, whether through AI or even an on-hand person who “speaks the language,” is tempting. But without diving into actual market or cultural considerations, you can end up with bungled campaigns.

One of our clients, a multi-billion dollar, US-based SaaS company, tapped a French-speaking internal resource to translate their US ads for placement in France. Not surprisingly, the ads performed sub-optimally because the message had been only translated, not localized. Effective localization goes beyond mere word meaning and considers cultural nuance and market research to maximize your brand’s message abroad. The difference can be significant. Once our team at Wordbank was able to provide fresh, localized creative, CTR boosted by 137%. 

Creative workflows for adapting content aren’t in place

Having access to editable design files for global counterparts is a common need that gets overlooked. You’ll need processes for editing and global file management systems in place to optimize cross-team collaboration, shorten turnaround time, and avoid frustrating snags in the workflow.

Adding another layer of complexity to design and copywriting processes is the need for character expansion. Visual customizations aside, it’s quite common for design layouts or character-limited copy to need reworking when put into another language, simply due to space restrictions (think SEM, SMS and social marketing, or character-limited spaces on your website). Set your team up for success by implementing standard workflows. Plan ahead to avoid unfortunate surprises in the creative localization process.

Critical market requirements are missing from scope

It’s increasingly common to see different countries with their own regulatory standards that global marketing teams must consider. For example, in Germany, an impressum (details about your company and contact information) is required on every online channel where you communicate with a German audience. If it’s your first foray into global marketing, or even just a new market with stringent requirements, your team may not know what to expect. 

Regulatory implications can be dramatically different from market to market – and so can the resulting effort from your teams. You’ll want to make sure your team is leaning on sound, market-specific research and advice where appropriate. And also be sure to work that layer of regulatory considerations into your overall localization process to avoid costly surprises.

Visual details are undermining your brand’s credibility

Imagery, video content, and design elements are often overlooked when adapting US content for other markets. This can significantly impede connection to your audience or deliver an unintended message.

The underlying tone or meanings implied by colors and fonts can vary in other cultures and contain unintended messaging if you aren’t careful. A trained eye should closely examine all the visuals on your website, platform, and promotional materials to make sure you’re connecting with your intended audience and avoiding visual communication mishaps.

For example, swapping an image of a coffee cup for a dallah would go a long way when connecting to an Arab-speaking locale. And there’s a host of common Western gestures that you’ll want to absolutely avoid in your visual communications in other parts of the world. (The thumbs-up symbol synonymous with “liking” something in the US is actually a profane gesture in parts of Europe and the Middle East.) In most parts of Asia, an image of someone touching another’s head or playfully ruffling someone’s hair is offensive on a spiritual level. In many Buddhist, Arab, Muslim, and Hindu cultures, showing the bottom of someone’s feet is highly disrespectful. The cultural differences are so wide and varied, you can’t get it right without in-market experts guiding you.

To avoid visual communication flubs, enlist the help of creative media localization experts, who can assess creative marketing assets and adapt where needed


Regardless of your teams’ experience levels with localization, putting the right management models and checkpoints in place across global offices can go a long way in streamlining efficiencies and supporting collaboration. Here are a few ways to get it right.

Have a global brand management strategy

Global branding is, at its core, about fortifying your brand with the necessary tools to thrive in other markets. To do that, you’ll need to focus on being globally consistent while remaining locally relevant.

Adapting your brand for global audiences is no small task. Some companies attempt a method of little change, simply translating materials, overlooking visual elements, and hoping their brand image will resonate abroad. But this can be problematic, especially if brand elements – like certain colors, symbols, or images – don’t carry the same meaning among international audiences.

A good global brand management strategy should follow the 60/40 rule. Retain 60% consistency globally, and allow 40% to be adaptable for local markets. This means knowing your brand’s core values and key design elements. Doing this ensures you’ll stay true to what matters most for your brand globally (the 60%). And you’ll also be meeting audiences on their level through adapted imagery, messaging, and local relevance (the 40%). 

Understand where individual market needs fit into each others’ overall remit

As a critical part of the overall global growth plan for the company, each global office should understand how they fit into the bigger company picture. Understanding broader goals and how all offices support them helps create a sense of cohesion and camaraderie. Be careful not to get so engulfed in your own perspective that you lose track of how it all fits together, and what insights and learnings may be shareable across offices. 

Work together to find KPIs that make sense for your market

Establish up front how you will track and assess performance across different markets. This can, and often should, vary as you consider:

  • Levels of product/service knowledge/understanding in market
  • Price points and buying cycles
  • Channel and media mix strategies
  • Signifiers of engagement/brand perception

Use a hybrid management model for content production

When scaling marketing and creative content for global growth, it’s critical to balance efficiency and effectiveness in your management model. But the two primary models companies use – centralized and decentralized – only address one or the other.

A centralized localization management model allows for language, design, and production to be managed through centralized control-points. Generally, this involves one or more language service providers (LSPs) working with either your corporate headquarters and/or agency of record (AOR). They’ll localize US-centric content and push that out to in-country stakeholders for their review and approval. Because this model values efficiency and volume, localization technology often dictates the content-creation process. And “quality” becomes a unicorn that companies seek out in endless RFP cycles. Likewise, in-country linguistic and creative talent – critical to drive local engagement at scale – is devalued in the localization process. The outcome is often a lot of localized content, the appearance of scale, and short-term growth. But companies looking to drive long-term growth in competitive markets may struggle to meet market-specific needs.

In a decentralized model, regional offices typically create content in-country, working with local agencies against central brand and marketing guidelines. The upside to this is you get highly effective in-market content. Each market is responsible for its own content development and enjoys increased flexibility and can fine-tune content for local needs. But this approach to localization strategy can result in loss of brand control. Without centralized oversight, many companies find that modified brand standards, value propositions, or misinterpreted messaging becomes the norm. The outcome is diluted brand identity, duplicated effort, and the loss of opportunity to leverage insights & content successes across markets. 

A smart partnership between global offices will consider language and cultural implications for all planned markets early in campaign development. The key is to leverage in-country expertise to maximize your effectiveness in each market. In some cases, research may show that a campaign can, in fact, be lightly modified to suit multiple markets. But you should also be ready for the possibility of needing unique creative across different markets to be most effective.

Many organizations eventually find best success with a hybrid model. Getting the balance right between locally and centrally managed international content production is crucial to a successful marketing localization strategy. And that’s exactly what a hybrid model can deliver. It unites the best features of centralized efficiency with the essential involvement of in-country stakeholders and creative talent. In a hybrid model, strategy and KPIs are centralized. But execution involves heavy engagement and collaboration at the local level based on a company’s (and each country’s) needs. Through this approach, the results win out, not any one method of scaling content delivery.

Taking this crucial pause to establish content development processes will help everyone reach alignment. It will also reduce the likelihood of having to choose between launching pitch-perfect content late or putting out irrelevant content on time. 


Whether you’re an established global brand or one that’s taking the leap into new markets, there’s always room to improve. Focus on relationship-building with global counterparts, create processes that truly work, and integrate tech that helps your people become more effective and efficient. Foundational steps around global brand management, a unified vision for performance, and establishing production processes can help your teams work faster and deliver more effective content for each market. 

Working with the right marketing localization partner to act as an extension of your team can help. From strategic insights and in-market research to marketing and creative services, they’ll guide you every step of the localization process. They’ll mobilize the people, processes, and systems that are key to an effective delivery model in order to drive success based on your content goals. So you can confidently adapt for differences while preserving the uniqueness of your brand. 

Get in touch to see how a custom solution from Wordbank can help your organization meet its localization goals and increase performance for all markets.