Jitendra Madhav Ramchandani

November 05, 2010

How can communication be global in the midst of local cultures?

Since they were dropped to the earth humans have developed local languages, cultures and societies unique to their part of the world. These cultures influence (and define) the way they express themselves. Different cultures express the same thing differently. A smile is the best example of global communication which is received equally and similarly by all cultures wherever you travel and live.

Here I will use the word 'communication' to refer not only the human-to-human direct communication but also in the form of products, services, forms of arts and sciences each culture has to offer the other.

In today's connected world it is easy to interact with consumers around the world but the consumer should be able to access and perceive the context and purpose of this communication.

Communication can be made global if we consider the following traits which define human values; these traits drive the message across cultures.

Few examples of global communication (as products, services, arts, sciences and everything)

  • Indian curry, Italian pizza, Chinese noodles or Coca Cola - These foods & beverages are typically local but are loved globally.
  • Yoga - Originated in India but is practiced around the world.
  • Ford's cheap black cars introduced in 1900s - The cheap cars made by Ford were so good and affordable by common American that it took no time for this company to quadruple their profits. 
  • Movies, like, Titanic don’t necessarily need translation. Charlie Chaplin’s movies were very well connected to the masses. These were silent movies but depicted the joys and sorrows of the common man.
  • Van Gough’s paintings have lovers around the world 
  • James Bond - The British fictional character's style impresses everybody.
  • WhatsApp – Who imagined a simple chat messenger will do so much better than any other messenger in the Internet history!
  • Google – Can you live a day without Google?
  • iPad – Microsoft and HP were ahead of Apple and already had tablet products but iPad was a classic success.

Every example discussed above is communicating something to the end user–the consumer. Food is communicating taste, Yoga is communicating wellness, car is communicating comfort of travel, a movie or painting is communicating a dream/memories/fiction/reality that people can relate to, James Bond is communicating style and determination, WhatsApp is communicating easy communication.

These examples influence the global consumer because of some common traits:

  • Aesthetic – How ‘usable’ the product is, i.e., how obvious is the product’s usage with respect to global user.
  • Simplicity – Industrial design is embracing simplicity, the software screens are becoming simpler.
  • Purposeful – There should be a purpose of the communication and it should be visible.
  • Attractiveness – Style attracts consumer. 
  • Reachability – The communication channel should be capable of spreading the message to the masses.
  • Joy – The consumer should feel happy.
  • Honest – As Dieter Rams said “It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept”

Local communication requires wings of these qualities to be able to take a global flight.

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