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For any business wanting to expand worldwide, global content localisation is a key consideration. But what is this strange sounding beast and why is it so important?
Global content localisation is, very simply, taking all of your content and readying it for different countries. Much more than just translation, localisation is about adapting your content for your target audiences within different cultures, taking into account cultural nuances and different consumer preferences. It can involve everything from changing colours and images on your marketing material, to altering the fonts on your flyers and the layout of your website.
The aim of global content localisation is to ensure that your content enables you to communicate with your audience in the most effective way possible. Just using your UK marketing material is likely to result in, at best, not making an impact and, at worst, damaging your brand reputation in a particular country in a way that is very costly (or even impossible) to repair.
Stick to our 7 principles and you’ll be well on the road to successful global content localisation…
Every culture is different. When planning your marketing strategy for a particular culture, you should ensure that you take into account differences, such as how customers use and purchase products, as well as how different cultures perceive colour or numbers. For example, a golf ball manufacturer decided to package its golf balls into packs of four in Japan. In Japanese, the word “four” sounds very like the word “death”, making a four set of golf balls a bad idea!
Intel’s US ad, showing black men ‘bowing’ in front of a white man, is another example of this, as it reminded consumers of slavery. Probably not the response they were after.
You should work closely with those who have an in-depth knowledge of the culture your target audience resides within. Cultural nuances have a large impact upon how you should market to a particular audience. Ensure that you don’t use images, vocabulary or colours that could offend people. For example, in the UK, white tends to symbolise things such as elegance and cleanliness. In China and various other Asian countries, white actually represents death and is bad luck.
Don’t assume that all consumer needs are the same worldwide. In the UK, for example, consumers would expect to pay for their goods online via their debit or credit card. In Japan, many consumers still prefer to pay with cash via convenience stores.
Research what your target audience’s needs and expectations are and don’t make any assumptions. Walmart reportedly made a mistake when it chose locations near industrial parks in China, when consumers there much prefer to do their shopping near their home, rather than near work.
As well as ensuring that you fully understand your customers’ wants and needs, you should also make sure that you research your competition in your target markets and work out how you will position yourself.
Choosing a brand name that does not need to be translated can help you to build your reputation as a global brand. If you do opt for a name that will need to be translated, this could be more time consuming and costly, as you will need to come up with new brand names when you expand worldwide. If you really like a name that will need to be translated, you should weigh up the pros and cons of using this name in the UK market and having to translate it for other markets.
You should also think about a name that will allow you to expand into other products or services, should you wish, so try not to choose something too restrictive.
United Colours of Benetton. Global localisation at its best.
When creating content, try not to use too much slang or idioms. Avoiding these will make your content easier to translate and you are less likely to run into problems later. Create some editorial guidelines and ensure that your content writers are sticking to them at all times, so that your tone is consistent with your brand, meaning any translations of your content are more likely to be consistent, as well. Investing in a good copywriter is also worthwhile, so that you can be sure your content is being given the specialist attention it needs.
Create a content strategy that is flexible. Many companies make a simple ‘yes/no’ decision when it comes to localising parts of their content but it can be helpful to soften this approach a little. Some content should be localised for some audiences but won’t be relevant for others. Bear this in mind and be ready to adapt your content strategy for different markets.
Global content localisation that stands out is essential for any business aiming to create a global online presence. By creating and localising consistent, quality content and building a global brand that takes into account the differences between cultures, you are well on the way to having a successful worldwide business.
Want to know more about how to make your global content localisation stand out? It can also be helpful to take a look at companies that had an excellent global online presence in 2016.
If you’d like to discuss how we could help you to localise your content, please get in touch with one of our SEM specialists today.