Planning your creative

Consider diversity at the creative development stage – it shouldn’t just be retro-fitted at the end. Co-designing messaging with target audiences communities will ensure communications are culturally appropriate and that the intended message is received in the most effective way, reducing the chances of miscommunication. Proactive planning will ultimately increase creative versatility and the impact of your communications.

Understand the cultural influences which could impact on your creative. For example, in some cultures, honour, respect and hierarchy are highly valued. Families may have a large say over individual decisions. You will need to ensure that this is conveyed well in your creative and copy.

Remove literacy barriers by using infographics, icons or illustrations. Refer to the iconography and illustration guidelines in the NSW Government Brand Framework.

Photography needs to be carefully considered. As much as possible, do not use stock images and avoid stereotypes. For example, Hijabs may not represent individuals from all Middle Eastern cultures and not all Indian people wear traditional Indian dress. Some ways to create a personal feel with broader appeal include using shots of specific body parts (e.g. hands) or photography from behind.

Ensure your talent choices reflect the diversity of NSW. Consider their accent, clothing, hair, home settings, food, and other elements in the background, and challenge stereotypes. Don’t assume that an ‘Asian’ talent will appeal across all groups from Asia.

When recording audio, use talent with an appropriate regional accent, for example, if your target is an Arabic speaker from Lebanon, match your talent to this country. If you need to appeal to a broader group, use someone with a more neutral accent.

Be careful when using humour – what is considered funny for one audience could fall flat or even be offensive in different languages.

Consider if your messages or creative could change or date quickly.

Think outside the box

  • Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and try different approaches to storytelling, for example games or quizzes, a photo or reel competition, a play or a virtual reality experience.
  • Enable your audiences to create their own authentic content that will resonate within their communities, for example short videos, reels or testimonials. Give them creative assets and simple guidance to help them do this effectively.

Crafting your copy message

Make sure the key message is in the title or the first sentence of your communication.

Write in plain English. This will help your customer find and understand information regardless of their language proficiency, age, language, education. Ensure concepts are presented one at a time.

Include readability testing. For all communities, including people whose first language is English, we recommend that you write your content for the reading level of age 9. If you need to use technical language, you can aim for reading age 12 to 14. Tools such as Hemingway App, WebFX and Readable can help you review readability.

Use jargon-free language. Some concepts may not translate or may have negative connotations.

Copy may need to be changed to come across well in your chosen languages. During COVID, the tagline “Let’s do this” was changed to “Let’s get vaccinated” as this was more direct and easier to translate across languages.

Avoid puns, colloquialism and double negatives. This may not resonate and can’t be translated well.

Do not use acronyms. If you need to introduce an acronym or term, explain the term first, then add the acronym.

Getting the most out of your translations

Build a glossary of terms of most often translated words to ensure consistency.

Provide a brief with the purpose of the campaign and how you intend to use the materials.

Be very specific about what you want translated i.e. not all text may need to be translated, for example, your agency name and website URL should be kept in English.

Include the tone you want to convey.

Brief your language services provider to translate the meaning rather than the literal words. This will maximise impact and avoid any gaps where there is no equivalent word.

Only use National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) certified translators.

Where possible, test the translation with other staff or your target audience to ensure the correct message is being conveyed.

For more information, refer to the NSW Government Language Services Guidelines.

In this example, settings were tailored to settings that would resonate with the specific multicultural communities. Icons are used to help remove literacy barriers and the order of the icons matches the direction of the written text (eg R-L for Arabic and L-R for Chinese).

Did you know?

Through the Whole of Government Translation Program, you may be able to access funding for translations and cultural advice. To find out if your campaign is eligible, contact [email protected]

Case Study

Multicultural Communications in action

Gamble Aware

After research into gambling in some cultural communities, the NSW Government realised the need for a bespoke creative approach based on different cultural factors such as the shame associated with excessive gambling.

The creative for each of the six target language groups used talent from that community. They depicted scenarios and environments that were relevant to each group, with tailored content to help the audience recognise the signs of excessive gambling and increase their confidence in seeking help.

The result was creative that was deeply personal and emotional.

The key to successful creative is to engage early with the experts. This will ensure that the intent matches the execution and allow your campaign to shine.

Breda Diamond, Director Language Services, Multicultural NSW

Click here to find out more about the campaign and view the in-language videos.

Thank you

This playbook represents the collective knowledge and expertise from a diverse range of people across NSW Government. They willingly shared their insights to help uplift communications to multicultural audiences; ensuring these communities are considered and included in every service and space.

We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the CALD Communications Working Group and multicultural communications agencies, including Etcom, Identity Communications and LOUD Communications Group.

Multicultural NSW is here to provide you with support and guidance every step of the way. 
If you have any questions,
 get in touch.

Page last updated: 31 May 2024 | 11:35 am