What Is Intercultural Copywriting?

A large part of intercultural marketing for global businesses is – you guessed it: intercultural copywriting.

Much like intercultural communication, intercultural copywriting can help you get your point across in a way that doesn’t exclude a certain group of people, isn’t triggering to others and has enough power to create a long-lasting, genuine connection.

Let’s face it: without intercultural copywriting, a global business or brand might have a harder time capturing the attention of a global audience because it’s either not easy to understand or it’s a little too aggressive and can be easily misinterpreted.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about how to include intercultural copywriting within your marketing strategy and content plan, keep reading!

What is intercultural copywriting?

The meeting point between culture and communication, intercultural copywriting is an essential tool when it comes to telling people what your brand and business are about, what you’re trying to sell, and how you can help your audience move past their pain points.

But one of the most important aspects of intercultural copywriting is that it helps you build an international, loyal customer base that’s located all around the globe! 

Most significantly, it helps you connect with this group of diverse, multi-faceted people through mutual respect and empathy.

In order to do this, global brands and businesses today must operate within certain parameters. One of these is understanding the nuances and cultural differences that live within their whole community in terms of the language they speak, the norms they subscribe to, the way they view the “online” universe, and more.

After all, not everyone is the same person! Speaking to them like they are – in most cases, subscribing to Western techniques and ideals of what “copywriting” and “business communication” are supposed to look and sound like – will not only alienate certain sectors of your audience, but it might also make your brand seem a little careless and confrontational.

Nonetheless, intercultural copywriting can help break these communication barriers in order to help you, your brand, and your followers achieve a level of mutual understanding that can later lead to a sale, a subscription, etc.

3 ways to adopt intercultural copywriting techniques into your marketing strategy

It’s no secret that copywriting is one of the most important parts of your marketing strategy. 

Without it, you wouldn’t be able to…

  • Tell your audience what you’re about (communicate your values)
  • Promote your product/service 
  • Prompt your audience to take action (make a purchase)
  • Work with an SEO strategy
  • Etc.

However, this doesn’t mean just using any copywriting technique out there. 

A lot of the time – consciously or subconsciously – brands and businesses resort to manipulative copywriting tactics in order to make a quick sale. 

READ: 3 Ways Manipulative Copywriting Shows Up in Your Marketing Strategy

What does this mean? Basically, certain brands are willing to “trick” the audience into believing that they desperately need what they’re being sold…even when that’s not necessarily true for a plethora of reasons.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

We believe that a holistic, long-term approach to successful, human-first copywriting must include intercultural aspects in order to be really effective on a long-term basis – think sustainable!

Using intercultural copywriting can take more work, effort, and patience in the beginning, but its strategy allows for you to build a sustainable relationship with your audience and clients. The more you make the initial effort to create a solid brand messaging strategy using interculural copywriting, the less you’ll have to pay in the future to “upgrade”, “correct course”, or “rebrand” in the future. 

Here are three of our favorite ways to ensure that you’re working towards a more intercultural approach to copywriting:

1. Avoid language that can be misinterpreted or triggering

This is, without a doubt, one of the most important parts of intercultural copywriting. 

In order to successfully write for your global audience, it’s important that you’re mindful of the language you use!

While certain words or phrases might mean something to you, it’s entirely possible that they have a completely different meaning/connotation to someone who lives in a different country, doesn’t speak English as their first language (assuming that’s what you’re writing in), or is from a different generation.

READ: How to Bring Intercultural Communication Into Your Brand Message

So, while something you’re about to say might seem harmless or playful to you…someone else might actually find it deeply offensive.

A few tips when it comes to being more mindful of your language and words are:

  • Avoid gendered language or assuming someone’s gender in your writing
  • Don’t use stereotypes to try and prove a point
  • Stay away from idioms/sayings with offensive connotations (a quick Google search can help you find the history behind most popular sayings!)
  • Use trigger warnings (TWs) at the beginning of your content to warn your audience about sensitive topics
  • Avoid using discriminatory terms (i.e. dumb, insane, etc.) or victimizing certain groups 

By actively working to avoid any of the above, you’ll also be working to ensure that your copy – and, therefore, your brand – is more inclusive and welcoming to different audiences. And that’s what intercultural copywriting is all about!

PRO TIP: Language is ever changing and at a very fast-pace! We get that this could look like a lot of pressure to try and keep up with all the new slang and awareness. Instead of feeling the pressure to do it on your own, it’s best to have a diverse copywriting group on your team to be able to keep up to date. And also, be honest in your copywriting to ask your audience for feedback if you’re using language that is triggering.

2. When in doubt, keep it simple!

The beauty of intercultural copywriting is that it’s even more powerful when you keep things simple and uncomplicated.

What do we mean by this?

Whereas some brands believe they have to use all of the flowery language and metaphors they learned in class, intercultural copywriting is all about short sentences, descriptive language, and so-easy-a-kindergartener-could-understand-it wording.

By cutting out any additional (usually unnecessary) words and sticking to your basic descriptors, it’ll be a lot easier for audiences who might not speak the same language or might be new to your line of work,  to understand what you’re trying to say.

When it comes to writing simple copy, here are a few places to start:

  • Provide definitions for terms/words that not everyone understands
  • Keep the same definition of a word throughout your writing
  • Avoid confusing pop culture references unless you’re sure your audience can relate
  • Use bullet points to break up your text
  • Declutter your writing through editing
  • Use the “active voice”

Writing simply, directly, and to the point also helps make your content more accessible. This can, in turn, make your brand a more inclusive space while, at the same time, boosting your presence through important marketing tools like SEO and readability.

3. Think of your audience as “humans” – not numbers

Here’s the thing: your audience is made up of real, feeling, flesh-and-bone human beings that are reaching out to you because they need your help.

They’re more than an avatar, a fake buyer persona, and an ideal client: they change and evolve and might not be the same person today than they were two days ago. That’s why writing human-centered copy is so important when it comes to implementing interculturality into your content.

When you write human-centered copy, you’re more likely to keep in mind the differences and potential triggers that live within your audience.

At the same time, writing for humans is a learning process all of its own. After all, you’re writing for very real people that aren’t afraid to let you know when you’ve slipped up. And, although the thought of getting called out might seem mortifying, it’s also a great learning experience that will help push your intercultural copywriting skills even further.

And, when in doubt if what you’re about to say can be harmful…just ask! 

READ: 4 Tips for Being Culturally Aware With Your Brand Message

Reaching out to your very-human audience is a great way to gather more information about them: what language they speak, where they live, what type of content they consume, etc.

The truth about intercultural copywriting

Intercultural copywriting is all about taking into account the needs, desires, and nuances of your very global, very diverse audience.

By applying an intercultural lens to your copywriting, you can work towards creating a more open and welcoming environment that’s suitable for all different types of people.

A few ways to get started are by
1. Avoiding language that can be misinterpreted or triggering
2. Keeping your writing simple whenever possible
3. Thinking of your audience as “humans” – not numbers

By cementing the base for your copywriting to be more inclusive and straightforward, as opposed to triggering or aggressive, you’ll be opening the doors for even more people to connect with you and your brand on a long-term and sustainable basis.

Enjoyed this post? You might like these, too!
Is All Copywriting Manipulative?
5 Reasons to Use Human-Centered Marketing for Your Business
How to Incorporate Feminist Copywriting in Your Marketing Strategy
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