As our global community is in many different stages of change and evolution, we see how just the concept of a packaged product may mean something completely different to someone else. Although the humor is fun, the impact is serious. Consideration of a global community means we see beyond our own selfish shores to adopt the perspective of others without pity. Pity is a highly emotional response, and the design community swims in the warmest pools of emotion, making it particularly hard to manage. Some just ignore it and others don't care. The best have dealt with the emotional adjustment and view other people on the planet as equals no matter where they are on a perceived socio-economic scale.
The fundamentals of globalization cover languages, graphics, visuals—and the need to adapt to each country or region. How much adaptation takes place depends on the globalization strategy of the organization. Some organizations, such as IKEA, make no apologies for product names that sound unusual in the English language. IKEA takes a country of origin approach and expects the shopper to learn, adapt, and understand. At the other end of the spectrum, Coca-Cola adapts a fair amount to each country and language with product graphics, lettering, and other package attributes. Neither is right or wrong, but each represents a different organizational strategy to globalization.
Once a strategy is set, the most important next step is for the designers to research possible meanings around all aspects of the package. The meaning of colors, images, words, phrases, typefaces, and shapes can change by country, region, or culture. This doesn't mean the winning package adapts to everyone. Sometimes strange translations can convey authenticity when it comes to an international product package. On the other side, the risk of offending needs to be understood, hence knowledge of meaning is essential. With knowledge, specific tactics can be mapped out and potholes can be avoided. Global packages can reap global rewards but they also have global obligations.