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We are releasing a new series of articles, “Content With Purpose.” Twelve dedicated localization-focused articles on helping you connect and grow worldwide.
Maximizing Your Brand Growth with Localization
Entering new geographical markets is one of the most popular ways to grow, second only to mergers and acquisitions (M&As). Yet, to succeed, brands typically need to adapt their products or services to appeal to buyers in those regional markets. And that requires undergoing a process known as localization. While translation makes content accessible in the local language(s), localization goes further by adapting it to another culture. That may include altering the following:
- Style and tone
- Cultural references
- Payment methods
- Other aspects of a website, app, or software program
These changes give the localized product or service a “local” look and feel, which, when done right, improves brand recall, increases trust, and boosts sales. When done wrong, it can damage the brand’s image or, worse—credibility.
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Localization: Success vs. Failure
While the world’s largest brands have made missteps, numerous examples of localization offer insight into how brands adapt to new markets. Below is a look at just two examples of localization that offer insight into how brands adapt to new requirements.
Good Localization: An International Nonprofit Organization (NGO)
Established in the 1960s, this NGO works to conserve and protect endangered species and habits worldwide. Today, it relies on its digital presence to spread awareness, publish reports, and launch campaigns related to conservation.
Instead of simply translating the same content for each region, the organization creates multilingual content tailored to the visitor’s location. That includes featuring different new stories and localized conservation campaigns that are the most likely to keep local audiences engaged.
To date, the U.S. homepage features a campaign that focuses on the country’s oil and gas programs in the Arctic. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong homepage features a story about the organization’s efforts to conserve local wetlands. Thanks to effective website localization, it can share relevant and targeted content to the correct local audience.
Bad Localization: A Multinational Video Game Company
Since the 1970s, this Japanese video game company has been launching franchises to worldwide acclaim. Yet despite numerous hits, not every game localization has been a success.
In the mid-2010s, the company released another installment of a popular franchise in Japan. Six months later, North American gamers got the chance to play the long-awaited game. Unfortunately, many were unhappy with several aspects of the localization, including:
- De-characterization of certain characters left them one-dimensional.
- Alteration or removal of various conversations left players feeling as though the game had been censored.
Although the company intended to Westernize the game, the changes negatively impacted the players’ experience. If it had a deeper understanding of the North American players’ expectations, the game might have enjoyed better user reviews.
How to Build a Localization Strategy for Your Brand
Given the high stakes of launching in a new market, brands should develop a localization strategy that makes the process as seamless as possible. To help you get started, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide:
- Conduct market research. Before you launch in a new country or region, you need to determine whether or not it’s a viable market. Some products and services may be more of a natural fit than others, and not every brand will succeed in every market. As you research, consider local business laws, local competitors, and the preferences of local audiences.
- Evaluate the customer journey. After you choose a market, you need to ensure the brand messaging resonates with customers at every step of the journey. This may involve changing the tone, images, or even the customer journey through localization. Don’t forget to consider all the ways customers interact with your brand, including social media and mobile apps. You can always start small (localize the website, for example) and expand the brand’s localization efforts later.
- Budget for ongoing localization. Given how fast today’s markets change, localization is rarely one-and-done. From website updates to multilingual content for emails, social media, and in-app messages, brands need to ensure customers have the same great experience—regardless of location. And that requires ongoing localization.
By investing in ongoing localization, you can personalize your digital marketing efforts for every customer in their native language. Today, customers consider personalized content more useful, relevant, and valuable than non-personalized content, making it an essential part of the brand experience. In fact, 75% of customers get frustrated by non-personalized content, and 1 in 5 are more willing to spend more for relevant products or services.
- Choose a language services provider (LSP). Once you know where to launch and what to localize, it’s time to choose an LSP. Ideally, you should partner with a provider that has a deep understanding of the target market(s), language(s) you need, and your industry. This will help ensure the localization is linguistically and culturally appropriate for that audience.
Partnering with a Human-centered LSP
As you research language service providers, you’ll find that most offer machine translation (MT) as an alternative to human translation. MT is typically a faster and more affordable option, but it isn’t suitable for every project. And this is also true for many aspects of the localization process.
While MT works well for simple texts such as documentation, FAQs, and customer reviews,
it isn’t appropriate for creative content such as marketing or advertising. That’s because it’s unable to pick up on the nuances of language and can’t make adjustments based on style and tone. On the other hand, human translators can help determine how to adapt your message to the target market best. In some cases, that may require significantly changing the copy through a process known as transcreation, a method of creative translation.
By partnering with an LSP that takes a human-centered approach to localization, your brand will be better positioned to appeal to the local market. That doesn’t mean certain portions of your website, software, or app can’t be translated using MT, just that human translators can provide guidance on which methods to use and when.
Ready to launch in a new market? Contact Vistatec today to discuss your upcoming project.
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At Vistatec, We have been helping some of the world’s most iconic brands to optimize their global commercial potential since 1997. Vistatec is one of the world’s leading global content solutions providers. HQ in Dublin, Ireland, with operations worldwide.