Diversity of Colors, Numbers, Holidays & Traditions Across Countries

Establishing a global brand takes time and investment and it really does pay to invest in localization, from product conception through to go-to market. Globalization and localization goes beyond just language and linguistic translation. To make products and services resonate with global audiences, any touch-point of the customer experience must be culturally adapted.  Research on consumer habits, values and customs can help ensure your local brand campaigns are prepared and developed with the target audiences in mind.

Here are six examples of where cultural preferences impact how global content is presented:

Lucky Numbers: In the US, UK, France and The Netherlands, the number 7 is considered lucky, for a variety of historical reasons; the bible stating God created the universe in seven days, there are seven wonders of the ancient world and seven planets. Three is also considered a “perfect” and lucky number in many western countries. In Japan, China and Korea, the number 8 represents wealth and prosperity with the number 4 signifying death.

China: Around the world, the way different cultures see and describe the meanings of colors varies dramatically. Colors may convey joy or prosperity in one culture, and doom or bad luck in another. In China, the color white is a color of mourning, while black is the color or mourning in many other countries. Red is a very important color in China — it symbolizes good luck, joy, prosperity, celebration, happiness and a long life. Because it’s such an auspicious color, brides often wear red on their wedding day, and red envelopes containing money are given out during holidays and special occasions.

Russia: Stay clear of the big 4-0 birthday for men. A common superstition in Russia is that when a man is 40 and celebrates it with a big party, it may attract the Death. If this birthday isn’t celebrated, there is less a chance that Death remembers there is a man somewhere to be soon taken.

Japan: One of the most important aspects in Japanese language is that there are different tones or voices depending on the speaker, the listener, level of formality and situation. Therefore, messages are written specific to the sender and the receiver. For example, in Japanese, it is a bit awkward to use expressions that are too casual or romantic with parents – you do not send “kisses” and “hugs” to your mother or father.

Greece: Sorry, Easter Bunny. In Greece, the Easter Bunny tradition does not exist. Bunnies can be used on cards but “Easter Bunny” itself is not considered a symbol of the holiday, e.g. the way Santa Claus represents Christmas in the US.

Spain: While finding a four-leaf clover and touching wood are considered good luck, Spaniards believe that Tuesday the 13th is a very unlucky day. If you live in Spain, or many other Spanish-speaking countries, it is the equivalent to Friday the 13th in the US and UK. “Martes,” which is Tuesday in Spanish, is a word derived from the name of Mars, the God of war. Therefore, the belief is that Tuesday is ruled by Mars, the god of destruction, blood and violence.

As companies become more global, it is beneficial to understand the potentially diverse cultural the meaning of colors, images, traditions and holidays. Find out more about transcreation services from Adapt Worldwide, a Welocalize Multilingual Digital Marketing Agency