Creating video for a global audience has the power to boost your brand to new heights by connecting with customers on an international scale. As an international business with teams in the US and Argentina, we’ve seen first-hand the benefits of widening your cultural lens. But creating video for a global audience is more complex than just adding subtitles in various languages—although that can be a good start.
To succeed with international video, first consider the language, culture, and expectations of the customers you’re hoping to reach. This customer-focused perspective should shape everything from story to style. Here are some ways to optimize your video to reach a global audience.
Creating Video For A Global Audience
To connect with global audiences you need to think beyond your own cultural framework. Different parts of the world have unique styles of animation and animation trends. If you’re creating videos for audiences in different countries, it may be worth taking a look at what animations are popular in that region. Look for animation styles and themes that pop up again and again.
YouTube’s Creator Academy suggests three types of video narratives that can help you reach a universal audience:
- Videos with universal topics
- Localized videos, and
- Language-agnostic videos i.e. videos without words
Tell Stories Focused on Universal Topics
The category “universal topics” sounds pretty broad, but that’s kind of the point. You’re looking for the ideas that connect all people, regardless of where they live. Stories about family, overcoming adversity, and celebrating successes transcend cultures. People almost universally appreciate kindness, respect, and acceptance.
Of course, you can also tap into global happenings:
- Events like the Olympics or the World Cup
- Observances like Christmas or Ramadan
- Causes like environmentalism or world peace
Brand Example: Adidas tapped into their global audience during the 2018 World Cup, with a star-studded advertisement that featured soccer stars from around the world. With captions, compelling imagery, and an uplifting narrative, Adidas created a video experience that any sports fan can relate to.
Create Localized Videos to Reach Specific Audiences
Localized videos can tap into more specific themes or challenges faced by people in a particular region. Think about localized videos as part of a larger campaign. You may want to start with a video that connects all audiences, and then create a smaller series of videos tailored to a specific country or culture.
Brand example: This whiteboard video from the National Institutes of Health is designed to reach Spanish speakers in the United States. Both the voiceover and the on-screen lettering are in Spanish to show Spanish language speakers that the NIH has resources available in the language they’re most comfortable with.
Make Videos That Don’t Rely on Language
Video without words is easily digestible and can be viewed on mute. That’s worth considering since up to 92% of people regularly watch videos with the sound off. Making a video that doesn’t rely on language also makes it accessible to a more global audience, with no translation needed. Just remember that language doesn’t only refer to voiceover. On-screen text will need to be translated in subtitles unless you find a way to tell your story without them.
Brand Example: Check out this 30-second spot from Aeropostale, featuring Olympic Gold Medalist Aly Raisman. The video has no words, but it clearly conveys how flexible their jeans are through fantastic gymnastic feats — and who doesn’t want to watch that?
Create Inclusive Characters
While your characters don’t need to look like a United Nations meeting, they should allow your audience to imagine themselves as heroes in the story.
If your character designs are hyper-realistic, using real-world skin colors and body types, you could unintentionally exclude some viewers. Iconic design can help overcome this challenge. That’s not “iconic” in the sense of being famous and instantly recognizable—although your characters could reach that status. Instead, it refers to a specific design style that uses simplified lines and minimal details to create characters that are compelling in their minimalism.
If you’re having a hard time visualizing that, this video we created for gTeam is a good example.
Because no one has blue skin and a head that free-floats above their body, no one is excluded from imagining themselves as a character in this story. It doesn’t matter if they’re from the U.S., Argentina, or Angola.
Video Subtitles, Translations, And Metadata
A few tools can help you translate your videos to a global audience. If your video uses spoken word, subtitles let viewers read along with your spoken narrative in a language they understand. To add them to your video, you or your video production company, will need to develop a .srt file. This file contains the text along with timecodes to show where each line of the subtitle begins and ends.
You could create the files on your own, or with the help of a video production company or captioning service. Some video publishing platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, can create video captions automatically. But it’s a good idea to check the results. Automated processing means that embarrassing typos can slip through.
If you want to provide subtitles in multiple languages, you’ll need to upload different text files for each one. In this case, you need to consider how many different versions you need to best serve your target audiences.
You should also apply the same principles to how you treat your video metadata. This includes video titles, descriptions, and alt text. If you choose to upload a unique video thumbnail, make sure the metadata within the image file is optimized, too.
Global video consumption is exploding—and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Creating video for a global audience can help expand your reach, and your international impact. IdeaRocket can help you craft a story and style that appeals to global audiences. Contact us to get started.