Are you ready for a new market? Localization is a fancy word that translation professionals use to mean “make yourself relevant for the local market.”
Any good localization professional can explain many ways to localize. But a few tips hold true across industries and cultures. Here are the most common ways you can reach your local audience.
1. Take a look at your URL
Arguably the simplest way to go local is to buy a local URL. If you are a French company opening an office in Japan, go ahead and spring for that “.jp” domain name. Among the many benefits, your website will rank higher on local search engines and will be more user-friendly.
2. Adapt your web design
Every culture views style and colors differently. A little research into important colors or symbols for your target culture can make a big impact. For example, the Word Connection website pays homage to Japanese culture by using the national colors of red and white.
3. Use local people in your visuals
People like to imagine themselves interacting with your product or service. A frequent mistake from Western companies is to market in Asia, for example, using photos of people who do not represent the local population.
Another common mistake is using a celebrity in marketing materials…except the celebrity is unknown in your new market! Consider where you are before sharing photos. All companies benefit from diverse marketing, and your targeted marketing should definitely look local.
4. Contextualize your slogan
Many companies become famous for a single slogan. Think of Nike’s “Just Do It,” or the celebrated “Got milk?” campaign. Before you enter in a new market you want to take a good, hard look at how your slogan translates!
Take the “Got milk?” example above. A Spanish-language campaign bizarrely translated the slogan as “Are you lactating?” The campaign itself also alienated Latino consumers. To them, running out of milk was more of an embarrassment than a joke. Additionally, ads neglected to mention tradition and family, which was important to the milk buyers in Latino households (mothers and grandmothers). A new, more traditional Spanish-language campaign successfully reached the Latino community with the slogan, “Familia, Amor y Leche” (“Family, Love and Milk”).
5. Rethink your marketing materials
Along with the above examples, marketing materials naturally need to fit with the local culture as well. This is where translation in a traditional sense (taking words in one language and putting them into another) is not enough. Localize your material so that your story makes sense to your target market.
6. Look at how you present your product
When you enter a new market you want to connect with new customers. Many of the most obvious ways to connect are visual: your website, marketing materials and the physical look and touch of your product.
In many cultures, what your product looks like can make or break your success. For instance, packaging is highly important in Japan. The gift-giving culture puts value on what products look like. They want to show respect with a lovely-looking gift. We’ve known companies in Japan where 80% of the total cost of a product goes to packaging alone.
7. Translate your content
Last but not least, translate your website and key marketing materials into the target language. Your translated text should reflect the same care and high standards that you expect of your native language content.
Make sure your translator transfers your core ideals and principles into the new market. A quality translation will ensure that your content is not just understandable, but relevant, for your new market.
Never stop localization
Localizing can seem like a daunting task. After all, you’re effectively reimagining your company and product for a new target audience. Nevertheless, the rewards are great. When you connect with local customers, you are one step closer to success.