Merge's Blog

Cultural context is critical in crafting your business messages

cultural contextOlena Polissky and I met during an international trade and exporting program we both attended, offered by the Vancouver Board of Trade.  She is the managing director of Art One Translations, a full-service translation & localization service provider.  Given her breadth of international experience, I asked her if she would guest on the blog, ideally offering insights into how leaders can make sure that their international expansion efforts are successful.  I am thrilled that she agreed.  Today’s post highlights the importance of understanding cultural context as a integral part of any communication.

Why You Should Include Localization in Your International Expansion Plan

Businesses put much emphasis on communication, carefully crafting their marketing messages. A lot of effort and money goes into creating content. Every little detail is thoroughly thought through so that the product sounds appealing to the customers. To achieve that, the companies utilize the expertise of marketing professionals, copywriters, SEO specialists, graphic designers, and often even psychologists.

The same effort goes into creating software or app that would offer a high level of customer experience.

When planning foreign expansion, why is the importance of foreign words often undermined?

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” – Oscar Wilde

You cannot assume that the perception of your messages in a foreign market will be similar to what it is at home. Your foreign audience is culturally different, and so are their values, desires, and goals. Your messages – if not worded right – risk appearing culturally inappropriate and even offensive in your new market.

Professional translation matters!

This is why you should put even more emphasis on conveying your messages in foreign markets. Not only do they need to be accurately translated, preserving their flavour and tone, but they also need to be culturally adapted to resonate with your foreign audience on a deeper level.

Successful localization addresses the needs and wants of your customers, and this requires in-country professional translators who not only are subject matter experts but also live and breathe their culture. That will enable them to craft your messages in their native language with all aspects of the local specifics of your audience in mind. You cannot accomplish that by relying on AI or a co-worker translating on top of his other duties.

We all know that there is no such thing as a second chance to make the first impression.

So, why not do it right the first time?

Have you seen business or workplace situations where cultural context was not considered, or even worse, ignored?  Please do share below.

In the past, I’ve blogged about situations where not taking cultural context into account has resulted in disaster:

Olena Polissky is is the managing director of Art One Translations, a Vancouver-based full-service translation & localization service provider supporting technology, engineering, and manufacturing companies in their international growth. Having a reputation for exceeding their customer expectations, Art One is a recognized leader named a Top-Performing Translation Firm in 2020, Top Translation Services in Canada in 2021, and 2021 Leading Global Translation Company by Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform.  Reach Olena and learn more about Art One Translations at

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