Last updated on October 12th, 2016 at 02:03 pm
Global Business Success has Many Pieces to its Puzzle. Creating content in a single language can be challenging enough. You need to fully understand your target market so that you can build the message and create the content that is most valuable and meaningful to your audience.
When you consider the depth of the content you produce, the complexity increases exponentially. Everything from your website to your printed literature, marketing pieces, packaging materials, labels, advertising and more become part of your content arsenal.
Now add global business into the mix and multiply that complexity across languages and cultures, differences in expectations and needs, and it becomes clear that you need a well thought out content strategy for translating and localizing content into your target languages.
The Importance Of A Global Strategy
Many brands rely at least to some extent on foreign sales. Whether you are truly a “global” brand in the sense that you do business in many countries or you market to one or more specific overseas niches, you need to be able to engage with customers in their own language and within their own cultural framework.
Customers not only appreciate content that is presented in their mother tongue but more and more they are expecting it. The Internet and mobile phones have fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with companies, turning them into prosumers who are actively engaged in seeking the best information so they can find the best products and services for their needs.
These savvy shoppers are often labeled Millennials by marketers and advertisers. However, the truth is that a connected world is not only the domain of the young. Technology crosses age barriers and country lines, bringing a group of active, demanding consumers into the mix. They engage on social media, they ask questions, they expect more and the brands they choose will be the ones that provide the most authentic cultural experience.
Given the fact that people view brands more favorably when everything from websites, marketing materials, instructions and packaging, even down to minutia like clothing labels, are presented in their native tongue, what must a brand consider in order to be successful in the global arena?
Brand Dominance Is Measured In How Well You Reflect The Local Culture
As you prepare a product launch or plan to take your business global, many factors come into play.
We’ve mentioned a few, including marketing literature, your web presence, advertising and packaging, but there is more to consider if you want to provide a truly meaningful experience for today’s smart consumers.
Consider your customer service experience. Do you have the appropriate staff to handle calls, emails or other messages from your target markets? Is your help desk prepared to meet the demands and expectations of multiple languages and cultures?
Consider the finer details that so many of us take for granted and which we barely register as content at all – things like time, temperature and currency. Each of these has its own nuances and can easily be overlooked when you’re thinking about content in the broader sense.
There is quite a bit of planning that goes into running a successful global business. But if you choose the right language partner and make translation an integrated part of your content strategy – not simply an afterthought – you’ll see far more return on your investment.
It makes sense that businesses are familiar with the need to translate content into other languages in countries they wish to target.
But what isn’t always obvious is that mere translation often falls short of filling the needs and expectations of the consumer – and of building your brand as a credible source.
This is where localization comes in and it simply means adapting the content so that it fits the expectations of a specific group of people and infusing it with the nuances of meaning that are easily lost in translation.
Localization takes into account more than just language, but cultural differences, local customs and even the various components that accompany the written word like graphics and imagery.
The photos you use to appeal to an American professional will be different than those you’ll use to appeal to a Chinese, Mexican or Portuguese businessman.
Localization takes vocabulary usage and spelling into account on the local level, too. For example, the translation of the english word “jacket” is different for Argentinean, Mexican and Venezuelan Spanish.
Certain words, thoughts and ideas have no direct translation in some languages, which means a translator would need to find another way to convey the intended idea. To achieve this, sometimes the translator needs to use transcreation, or creative translation. Transcreation is the adaptation and conveyance of the original message’s intent, style and tone into the target language. This is especially necessary in marketing content and where the usage of double meaning is present.
Music is a perfect example of where transcreation can shine. Lyrics are often designed to rhyme or to have a specific syncopation in their original language. But when those words are translated the song no longer works from a lyrical perspective, and may even lose its meaning with the target audience. Many times, the figurative or colloquial nature of the lyric is lost.
Once, during a translation of a song, we had to change the lyrics for the song to fit with the melody in order to make it proper and listenable to the target audience. A straight translation of the original lyrics would’ve been inappropriate along with sexual connotations, in the target language.
Adapting the language to be pleasing to the ear and also conveying the correct meaning can be a challenge. This is not only relevant to songwriters and musicians. Your translator will have to be involved. Many brands have musical components to their marketing and advertising, from jingles to creative video and even instructional and demo materials.
Whatever form your content is in, it is wiser to translate ideas rather than words. It is also extremely important for the content to work in the target culture. Global Business success has many pieces in its puzzle, but having a translation and localization strategy in place is one of the pillars to achieve global success.