Global marketers should pay the same level of attention to the visuals they use in local markets as they do to their targeting decisions, according to an image specialist.

Lots of consideration about location, age, ethnicity, gender, relationships, jobs and other audience traits goes into every targeting decision, notes Grant Munro, SVP of Shutterstock Custom.

But some campaigns end up using one-size-fits-all images instead of tailoring them to specific audiences.

In a WARC Best Practice paper, How brands can localise their visual content strategy at a global scale, Munro argues that improving visual content to include more localised elements doesn’t require a lot of resources but the benefits can be significant.

And it’s not as though senior marketers don’t appreciate the importance of using localised content when entering new markets: a study from Smartling found that 80% of marketing decision-makers in the US, UK, Germany and France believe it is essential.

Getting it right is tricky, however, with seven in ten marketers reporting that less than half of their content was being consumed due to its ineffectiveness for local audiences.

There are numerous visual factors to consider, Munro says, such as the different meanings attributed to, say, animals or colours, in different parts of the world.

An owl symbolises wisdom in the North America and Europe, but elsewhere it can represent witchcraft and death; orange signifies things like warmth and affordability in the western World but can mean mourning or loss in Middle Eastern cultures.

And, Munro adds, consider how content is experienced in those cultures that don’t read from right to left – something that greatly impacts the way they see visual content.

“How marketers choose to design the content, such as a landing page or maybe a social ad can make a big difference in how audiences engage with brands,” he advises.

Regardless of marketing objectives, localisation is increasingly vital to business success, says Munro.

“Showing customers a brand understands them, their local culture, and their environment, [means] they will see the brand as a long-term partner rather than just another company.”

Sourced from WARC