Thinking Global: Four Key Takeaways Marketers Can Learn from the Olympics

Aug 12, 2016

Article ImageThe Olympic Games are designed to bring people together--including more than 16,000 athletes and 600,000 spectators--uniting the world in a global celebration of athletic achievement and competition. A critical focus in bringing nations from around the globe together is creating mutual understanding through shared experiences and most importantly, language.

As these athletes and spectators unite, representing more than 200 countries and speaking 180+ languages, the games become more than an athletic competition--they are a celebration of the world's cultures and heritages. This can create challenges for Olympic brands and marketers alike who must create and distribute content that resonates equally with an incredibly diverse audience. As a result, brands are looking to translation strategies and solutions to help facilitate unity at the summer games and create camaraderie and shared experiences around this special event.

Now more than ever, it's imperative for brands and marketers to create cohesive messages that will maintain global brand consistency while instilling local relevancy into content. Following these four key takeaways from the Olympics will provide a strategy that will drive success and deliver relevant, quality global customer experiences.

1. Digital Speeds Content Delivery

The 2012 Olympics in London began a trend of digital content being prominently used at a global scale, across all media and social channels. This transformed the way audiences and spectators viewed, shared, and communicated sentiment and reactions during the competition--and how brands reacted in real-time to the events. Fast-forward four years to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and digital content has become even more pervasive. At the same time, this shift has dramatically changed the speed at which content needs to be translated so brands can stay on top of trending topics and become part of the global conversation. As a result, brands need to ensure they have strategies in place to quickly and accurately localize the vast amount of content being generated during the event to reach global markets before they've moved on to the next conversation.

Furthermore, much of this content reaches spectators via mobile devices, so brands must also ensure that information is presented in the same way in all languages, across all mobile platforms and devices. By utilizing mobile app localization technologies, brands can provide seamless experiences to audiences across geographic markets on the devices they interact with most. In fact, a recent study from App Annie shows that localizing an iPhone's application text resulted in 128% more downloads per country.

2. Incorporate Social Listening

As digital continues to drive content distribution, brands must also account for the rise in activity and buzz around social media conversations. As a result, they must incorporate social listening strategies--tracking social conversations about the games in real-time across keywords, and in multiple languages. By capturing these golden moments, brands can create reactionary content in a timely and relevant manner. Additionally, working with a translation partner can also ensure that brands are tracking social conversations across as many languages as possible (beyond just Portuguese, French, and English--the official languages of the 2016 Olympics), so that content can be globalized in real-time to reach the widest group of spectators across the globe.

3. Don't Ignore Emotions

The Olympics is a global event that unites countries and celebrates diverse cultures and heritages. As such, it is important that all digital content take cultural nuances and preferences into account, or brands risk misrepresenting themselves and potentially alienating or offending their audience. This is especially crucial as the industry has witnessed a huge shift in marketing strategies and campaigns where human emotion has replaced the previously popular yet generic product feature ads. Coupled with the rise of consumer expectations in receiving content that's catered to their cultural heritage, brands and marketers must be sure that their messages relay the same sentiment in any voice. This includes translating not only the language, but also confirming that images, symbols and human emotion are culturally appropriate across every geography.

4. Avoid Approval Bottlenecks

Whether it's for the Olympics or any large global campaign, approval processes can often be a big headache if content is not translated properly, leading to extra rounds of reviews and causing major bottlenecks. To avoid these issues, brands should work with language experts who possess cultural savvy and can quickly review content across different languages to check for cultural relevancy. Furthermore, brands should invest in automated technologies to help support translation and approval processes, to avoid publishing an inaccurate piece of content that misses the mark for a global audience. With the right technologies and people, companies can experience a seamless and efficient approval process when it comes to globalizing their content.

Looking Ahead

The Olympics unites a large group of worldwide cultures on one central stage. To make the most of this event, brands and marketers need to think globally when it comes to their content strategies to maximize their investment and presence. Looking ahead, whether it's the Winter Games or the next campaign, brands must focus on new and innovative strategies to reach their global audience with the right content, at the right time, in the right language. This will ensure not only global consistency and cultural relevancy, but also will help drive brand loyalty and build lifelong, meaningful engagements. 

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)