Language localization for your content-Going beyond the lingo


07 Oct Language localization for your content-Going beyond the lingo

When you stop to think about localizing content, the first thing that comes to mind is the translation of text or audio to suit a geographic location or a specific audience. Translation is a vital part of the process, but when putting a localization strategy in place, it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Localization in action

Localization is often the result of a strategic decision to internationalize content; the procedure of making it available across the globe to new markets and territories, to suit the audience´s tastes, ideas and consumption habits. According to Common sense advisory, and 55% say are more at ease buying in their native language, and 53% of consumers will only buy in their native language.

It’s a complicated and rigorous process to make sure the content is not only speaking the same lingo as the intended audience but is also aligned with their beliefs, opinions and sensibilities. Be they cultural, geopolitical or social, for both businesses and consumers alike.

When things go sideways (and they often do)

It´s quite astounding how many companies make simple mistakes when it comes to localizing content, branding and launching market campaigns to suit their intended audience. Product naming is classic, an error made by a surprising amount of companies who have the resources and global reach to know better.  Some brand names make perfect sense in an American market, taking them to Asia with a directly translated names can sometimes land companies in hot water, and they may find themselves having to quickly rebrand products because they can, unfortunately, translate into very inappropriate meanings.

To give a couple of examples of how not paying attention to localization can have dire consequences, HSBC bank translated a campaign slogan from “Assume nothing.” From Cantonese with the literal translation to English “Do nothing.” It cost them Millions to fix.

Cultural differences can often impact companies when expanding into new territories, western businesses setting up shop in Japan can often trip themselves up because they fail to cross over culturally,  often lacking the fundamental ability to recognize, interpret and correctly react to whom they do business with. Misunderstandings due to cultural differences occur if little or no cultural awareness is implemented. More switched on companies address this by hiring local country managers to explain and manage the differences between western and Japanese business practices. This can literally make or break a business in Japan, and it often does.

Cultural awareness comes in play with sales and negotiation where there maybe to customs and protocols to follow, in China, the offering of gifts is a custom before business can take place. In Korea, a business meeting may extend to dinner and karaoke. In India, “no” is an elusive expression and eager to please business associates will say anything but that fateful word, so it becomes a game of mental aerobics and reading between the lines.

Content Adaptation

When adapting content to local languages, design and layout to correctly display translated text to local needs be taken into account, it might be 20 characters in English and 40 in Korean, so your code needs to amended to allow for this. Converting to local requirements (such as currencies and units of measure) needs to be understood and changed accordingly as well as using proper local formats for dates, addresses, and phone numbers.

Here at Intracon Spain, we have successfully developed and localized our own tools, our Epub designed as a sales tool for HP distributors, a potent sales enablement tool, a essential part of its development was adapting the content for the various global audiences, going beyond translation and cultural adaptation.

So, to summarise localization aims to give a product a look and feel of having been created specifically for a target market, no matter their language, culture, or location, Ignoring this may jeopardize a carefully planned marketing strategy. Don’t let localization be your chink in the armour, use it to your advantage and win over your target audiences.


Anthony Bain
Content Developer at Intracon Spain

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