The Macquarium Blog | Cross-Cultural Communication

Designing Cross-Cultural Digital Experiences: 3 of 6

Posted by Ira Gross on Jun 5, 2017 4:23:39 PM

The field of chronemics is another branch of cultural anthropology that can be applied to digital communication. It relates to the way we structure and use time. Chronemics is frequently defined as the study of the role of time in communication. As I mentioned in an earlier post, notions of time play a significant role in the communication process. Time perception plays an important role in non-verbal communication as well as verbal communication. The use of time can affect lifestyle, relationships, attention spans, speed of speech and other behavior. These notions of time are learned experiences and vary across societies.

 

Chronemics divides the world into two primary camps in terms of their approach to and usage of time – monochronic and polychronic. Monochronic cultures tend to view time as discrete rather than continuous. In these cultures, time is organized into fixed, precise elements, often to be optimized for maximum efficiency. In this system, time is scheduled, arranged and managed. As a result, there are many known elements that comprise monochronic cultures. These include arriving on time, utilizing schedules, adhering to deadlines, doing one task at a time, valuing personal space and having ‘completion’ as the primary metric for success. Examples of monochronic cultures include the United States, Northern Europe and Israel. If you read my previous post, monochronic cultures also tend to be low context.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Design, Strategy, Copy, Branding, Cross-Cultural Communication

Designing Cross-Cultural Digital Experiences: 2 of 6

Posted by Ira Gross on Apr 17, 2017 6:04:05 PM

In my last post I outlined a framework to improve cross cultural communication in the digital realm utilizing some of the concepts from the field of cultural anthropology.  In this installment, I will focus on the first construct that I discussed in my last post – cultural context. According to Edward Hall, the pioneer of this concept, a high context message indicates a rather implicit meaning, which is ‘either in the physical context or internalized in the person’, and little information is included in the ‘coded, explicit, transmitted part’, and vice versa for a low context message.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Design, Strategy, Copy, Branding, Cross-Cultural Communication

Designing Cross-Cultural Digital Experiences: 1 of 6

Posted by Ira Gross on Feb 27, 2017 6:21:33 PM

A few decades ago Chevrolet had a much publicized failure rolling out their model the Nova in Mexico.  It turned out that “no va” means “doesn’t go” in Spanish.  Not really an ideal name for a car.  Years later in Italy a campaign for Schweppes tonic water translated the name into Schweppes toilet water.  Sales were unimpressive.  These two marketing blunders have become somewhat legendary in the annals of cross-cultural marketing and communication.

With globalization becoming a seemingly permanent element of our society, the importance of navigating the complicated maze that is cross-cultural communication is becoming more important than ever.  And not just to large global brands and firms, but to smaller organizations who through happenstance or necessity find themselves in the position of trying to sell their products and services to a broader, more international audience.  In the past, most firms simply translated their American (or home country) marketing collateral and message to their target countries language and called it a day.  This approach rarely yielded the desired results, but most firms lacked the know-how and wherewithal to do better. 

It turns out that there were several models available to try and optimize these cross-cultural marketing and communication issues, but they resided in a completely different field and hence were unknown to most marketers. The field of cultural anthropology utilizes multiple models to explain and understand communication among and between different cultures.  This field has identified that cultures have unique and different ways of looking at the world, varying attitudes towards accepted behavior, differing ways of expressing personality, and perhaps most important to this audience, different ways of negotiating and communicating.  Each of these differences affects the customer experience in unique and interesting ways and needs to be considered when a firm is branching out and attempting to do business with new nations, cultures and regions.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Design, Strategy, Copy, Branding, Cross-Cultural Communication