Lost in Translation


It can happen… In the heat of the creative moment, your intended message (versus the message understood by your audience) gets lost in translation.

It happens to the best of us, and usually boils down to how well you understand your target audience.  Take the java giant, Starbucks, who recently suffered a branding faux pas in the UK when they overlooked cultural preferences. In our frenetic world where we often feel like just a number, Starbucks attempted to bring a personal touch to their service by writing customers’ names on their drink orders. This practice is causing a bit of an uprising across the pond, where our British friends aren’t overly enthused about giving their first names to the friendly local barista.

So what does this have to do with you and how you project your brand?  A lot, in fact – from preparing your portfolio for a job or working on a client project – it’s essential to do your research to understand who your audience is and what will make the best brand statement that will speak directly to them.

For the same reason there are so many drink options, serving up the same “flavor” of your portfolio won’t necessarily appeal to everyone.  The more you tailor your brand to your market in a direct and concise manner, the more positively you’ll be received. Also remember to consider your audience’s culture.  For example, showing a portfolio heavily weighted with fun, colorful and whimsical designs isn’t going to be well received at a financial services firms, but may land you a job with a toy manufacturer.

Creatives, each time you communicate with a hiring manager, supervisor or client, be mindful that your ideas are not being lost in translation. Whether it’s your personal brand or your company’s, be sure to speak their language. They’ll love you for it!

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