What is localisation and why is it important for my business?
Remember that ‘Share a Coke’ campaign from 2014? It had shoppers frantically rummaging through aisles of neatly arranged coke bottles in the hope that their favourite multi-national, multi-billion pound corporation hadn’t forgotten about them.
But while UK or American customers might have reasonably expected to ‘Share a Coke with John’, Coca Cola had to work a little harder to get this campaign to stick overseas. In Ireland, traditional Irish names such as Aofie and Oisin were used. But what about China, where addressing someone by their first name is considered disrespectful in the local culture?
Localisation is about adapting your business and brand message to multiple target markets across a global audience and without it, you stand little chance of success.
What is localisation?
Put simply, localisation is the process of adapting content or a product to a specific market or locale. There’s no doubt that if you’re trying to sell a product, producing things like marketing materials in the native language is important. As Nelson Mandela once said:
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”
The same general rule applies to business, but it actually involves a lot more than just language translation:
- Converting to local currency and units of measurement
- Reformatting dates, addresses and phone numbers.
- Amending content to suit the target audience – this might involve choosing new idioms and attempting different types of wordplay and humour.
- Adapting graphics to suit different cultures – colours, symbols and images can have different meanings depending on where you are!
- Changing the layout – e.g. reading from left to right vs right to left.
- SEO or Search Engine Optimisation – each country will have different keywords that you need to target in order for Google to consider your website relevant.
- Adapting your product to address local regulations and legal requirements.
Remember, the aim is to make it look and feel as though your product or service is aimed solely at a specific locale.
Who needs localisation?
As you can imagine, if you’re selling a product in a country where English isn’t the primary language, localisation is essential. This holds true even if English is widely spoken or understood as a second language. According to a Common Sense Advisory Report in 2014, customers were 75% more likely to purchase goods or services if the relevant product information was in their own language.
That doesn’t let you off the hook if you’re only looking to export to other English speaking countries! Take Americanisms, for example, like swapping ‘S’ for ‘Z’ (localise vs. localize) or using the word jelly to refer to jam (we could go on…). These may rub British English speakers up the wrong way, but it’s crucial that you nail them if you want an American audience to really identify with your brand.
What should localisation include?
The localisation process involves much more than just adapting your website to global markets. Here are some of the other things you might wish to consider:
- Marketing materials, such as TV, radio, and print adverts.
- User Interfaces
- Quick-start guides
- Service materials
- Product warranty materials
- Product manuals
- Training materials
- Online help and FAQs
- Disclosure documents, such as T’s and C’s
What should I look for in a localisation provider?
Localising a product or service may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. A full service language services provider (LSP) will manage everything from correct and culturally appropriate translation to functional quality assurance.
Global Language Services have experience working with everything from small businesses to global brands such as the BBC and RBS, offering tailored translation and localised services to meet the specific needs of the client.
If your business operates in multiple countries, particularly with different languages, the importance of localisation cannot be understated.
At Global Language Services, we provide tailored translation and localisation services for businesses of all sizes. A dedicated project manager and qualified translators with first-hand experience working in different sectors will ensure that translation and tone will remain consistent across the brand while adapting to local variations.
Get in touch now for more information on our localisation services.