Have you taken into account the graphic adaptation for your multilingual communication media?

 graphic adaptation for multilingual communication media

When your company works with clients internationally, the translation of your marketing and advertising materials is of course essential. But to promote your products abroad, a good translation is not enough; we must also think about the graphic adaptation of your advertising media, depending on the country or target culture.


As part of your communication abroad, you need to adjust some components of your original documents (symbols, visuals, colors, taglines, etc.) so that they are consistent with the culture of the public that we seek to target.

The art of the graphic adaptation is to customize your documents, while retaining the identity of your brand and with maximum respect for the graphic set out.

Examples of situations that require graphic adaptation.

First, for countries whose language is not the same sense of reading, the document structure must of course be altered (reversed or simply amended) in order to adapt to this constraint. This seems obvious, but it’s something to consider, which can cause some time working in desktop publishing!

photo-Alice_Achterhof design


Colors, too, are crucial, because they do not have the same meanings in different cultures. White is the most prominent example; while in Western cultures, it is associated with purity, innocence and peace, it is the color of mourning in Japan, China or India. A woman wearing white on a poster advertising do not send the same message in Europe and Asia! Yellow, also, a symbol of joy and energy, or jealousy and deceit, shall not be construed the same everywhere. As for the green, it can be equally problematic. As the national color of Ireland or Mexico, where it therefore has a very strong and positive sense, it can be a sign of hope, nature and wealth, but it may mean bad luck and jealousy in some Western contexts. In Malaysia, it is a funeral color and China, wearing a green hat for a man indicate that his wife cheated on him… The colors of your communication must therefore always be reflected knowingly.

Finally, sometimes visual media (symbols, shapes, objects, people …) must also be adapted.

We all know that hand gestures or positions of an individual on an image does not mean the same thing from one country to another.

In Russia, showing the palm of the hand is aggressive, the thumbs-up to Iran is a very offensive gesture and hands on hips is a fighting position in Indonesia … Not to mention the different perceptions of nudity where in some cultures it is unthinkable to see a bare shoulder and where women’s representation may be subject to strict control (such as in the Middle east). So beware postures of the models in your catalogs that may seem insignificant in France but very insulting in other countries!

In short, to be sure your promotional material does not have the opposite effect to that intended, it should be good to learn about the cultural preferences of the target country and adapt your brochures and catalogs before releasing them.