May 25, 2017 / 

Brad Hawkes

Reasons to localize images: lessons learned from big brands and small startups

Reasons to localize images: lessons learned from big brands and small startups

Communicating well with customers means speaking their language, and that doesn’t just mean investing in a translator. Getting the words right is a good start, but we also need to make sure we’re using the right visual vocabulary and choosing pictures everybody can understand. That’s where localizing comes in.

Localizing is about producing content that resonates with different customer segments across the globe. It could be as simple as writing in the language of your target audience, or as complex as commissioning culturally sympathetic images. But the result should always be the same–content that speaks directly to your target audience, wherever they are in the world.

In short, localizing is powerful. Here’s how:

  • It boosts a sense of recognition in customers
  • It helps businesses expand into new markets
  • It can give your company a competitive edge
  • It establishes an impactful brand – worldwide


So how do you do it?

So how do you do it?When localizing images, it’s vital that you move beyond stereotypes. This means swapping out exotic clichés and traditional stock photography in favor of images that are dynamic, easy to understand, and culturally aware. Easier said than done, eh?


To help, here are the kinds of images to look out for:

  • Images free of text – let the picture do the talking
  • Images of nature – nobody can argue with a scintillating sunset, after all
  • Standardized images – make the most of universal signs and symbols
  • Abstract illustrations – these sorts of pictures don’t require any explanations


And the images you should avoid:

  • Symbols that aren’t globally recognized – do your research before including any signs and symbols
  • Images or graphical elements with text – unless you have a translator on speed-dial, it’s best to steer clear
  • Hand symbols or gestures – interpretations of gestures can vary hugely from culture to culture, so be wary of using them
  • Region-specific images – remember, regions can be hugely diverse
  • Non-translatable humor – just because you find something funny, doesn’t mean the rest of the world will


Read more: Why you should consider crowdsourcing images


Outsource Custom Content

Outsource Custom Content

All sound a bit intimidating? Don’t worry. With crowdsourcing, it’s now easy to work directly with creatives from your target location. All you need to do is send out an image request describing what it is you’re looking for. Before long, you’ll have your pick of incredible images. Easy.


How two global brands have done it

In the past decade alone, 85% of global brands have used crowdsourcing to create content that speaks directly to their audience. Here’s how.



Coca-Cola is the epitome of a global brand. At a century old, its classic branding is recognized the world over. But why? Well, it’s largely down to the company’s ability to localize. Thanks to extensive research, Coca-Cola has managed to market their drinks towards a diverse range of local customers. And it works.



H&M may be a fast fashion retailer, but its marketing strategies are anything but short-lived. When it launched its Conscious Collection line in 2012, H&M created different campaign messages for different countries. In the English-speaking parts of the world, the retailer spoke out about worker’s safety and organic cotton, whereas for the Chinese market the focus was on the environmental problems posed by polyester fiber. By tapping into these separate concerns, H&M was able to launch a successful campaign that spoke to each one of their customers.

The take-home message? Localizing allows you to broaden your reach, boost your impact and diversify your brand. In other words, it lets you speak the same language as your audience.


Keen on giving localized images a go? Tap into our global photographer community and try creating an image request using Pickit Business.