Global Product Packaging: Simple, Short and Sweet


By Davide Novelli, Marketing Director, The Geo Group Corporation,

Many factors determine the success of a global product launch and packaging is definitely one of them. If you want to improve the packaging of your products, you may need to buy turntable wrapping equipment and invest in high quality packaging materials. Those who are shipping paper products such as posters, maps and banners may use heavy duty mailing tubes for their packaging.

Multilingual packaging is one small task that has a large impact on sales. At the store level, exporting regulation, space restrictions and creative design can hamper product packaging eye appeal. However, multilingual packaging can attract consumers despite the mirage of limitations.

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If you need to translate your product packaging, here are some tips for a smooth transition from English to multilingual text:

  • Write short, simple sentences; the easier the message in English, the easier the delivery in a foreign language
  • Use terminology consistency
  • Leave white space: most foreign languages are 20-25% longer than English
  • Adjust font size to accommodate many languages on one package but keep in mind that Asian characters are unreadable in small font sizes
  • Avoid idioms and acronyms; they usually make sense only in their own language
  • Use visuals instead of words anywhere possible; a picture is worth a 10,000 words
  • Produce “flexible” graphics adjustable for cultural differences

In a few words: think internationally. When you write the English text, always keep in mind the language and the culture of the people you are going to be talking to. In Germany, Clairol introduced the curling iron “Misty Stick” before discovering that the German word for “Mist” means “manure.” Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called “Cue,” the same name as a notorious adult magazine.

Simple, short and sweet is the key to successful global product packaging. The integration of an advertising/marketing agency, foreign language translation agency, localization firm and internal branding managers all impact the eye appeal of your consumer-based export. The challenge is to blend information and esthetic to make a positive sales impact all around the world.

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