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Localization Services and the Impact of Cultural Differences on Graphic Design

overhead shot of graphic designer

In previous blogs, the localization team at Akorbi has looked at the way in which regional dialects and entire languages depend on context to get your brand’s message across. But, as leading providers of localization services to multiple global, multi-lingual organizations, we know it’s not all about words.

In many cases, the branding of a company or organization may need to go through certain visual refinements or overhauls, depending on the culture of a particular marketplace. In this blog, the Akorbi team will examine the complex topic of graphic design changes in localization services and what it might mean for your business.

Related Post: What Are the Best Website Localization Tools?

Not Every Language Reads Left-to-Right

You probably know that not every language is written to be read left-to-right. Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew are examples of languages that read right-to-left, while Japanese kana or Korean hangul can be read either horizontally or vertically, depending on the use. You might assume that this only matters for text, but you’d be wrong. If you’re used to speaking a language that reads a certain way, then you’ll likely read visual cues the same way, too.

The panels in a comic strip will read in the direction of the language, meaning the panels will be arranged differently depending on the written language being used. This means that any graphics or images used to illustrate ideas or express certain concepts need to be reconfigured to match the reading-direction of their associated language. Neglecting this can change the message entirely.

Colors and Connotations

We all associate colors with certain feelings or themes, even if we don’t know it. In western culture, red means “danger” or “stop.” Blue is typically associated with being “cool,” “cold” or “fresh.” What you might not know is that these ideas tied to colors are culturally specific. Take the idea of red meaning danger, for example: in China, red is associated with good luck. The right localization services can take these kind of visual factors into account and make sure you don’t use the wrong colors for the wrong message.

Historical Influences on Art and Graphic Design

Depending on the kind of site or content you’re seeking localization services for, you may also want to think about the historical context of art and graphic design of a region. Different cultures around the world have their own cultural aesthetic that influences their art, from music and movies to the graphic design used by companies or organizations. In localizing for a particular region, it can be useful to take the unique visual style of the culture into account.

However, this can also be risky. Without the right eye for design and awareness of cultural sensitivity, it can be easy to misappropriate certain cultural designs and end up creating something offensive or condescending. Localization is a lot more complicated than translating the text on your site, then coopting some cultural iconography in its design. This is why hiring a professional organization like Akorbi is essential.

Related Post: App Localization: A Beginner’s Guide to App Content

Get the Best in Forward Thinking Localization Services

When it comes to providing the best in localization services, it’s important to look beyond the basics. Even by tackling a topic like subtle graphical changes between different global target areas, we’ve barely scratched the surface on how much detail is involved. Akorbi is dedicated to providing the kind of services you need to keep consistent branding, voice and presentation that appeals to any audience, whatever language they speak. For the best in translation and interpretation services, talk to Akorbi today.

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Here’s what Akorbi is doing in response to COVID-19. Learn More »