What is a localization strategy?

Localization is one of those buzzwords being tossed around a lot these days, but many people don’t know what it is. Perhaps the most concise localization definition consists of just a handful of words:

To adapt a message toward a specific audience.

The first thing that may come to mind when you hear this is the concept of translation – converting words from one language to another. Yet while language localization is important (in order to reach an audience, you have to speak their language), a comprehensive localization strategy involves far more than just words. It adapts your corporate identity toward a new market. It factors in the design of your website, the font choice of your print materials, your logo, color scheme, corporate voice and more.

Why is a localization strategy so important?

Developing a localization strategy well before your company expands into a foreign market will help you avoid obstacles and pitfalls along the way. Sure, translating a document can be a straightforward and quick process, but localizing your message and branding requires time and dedication in order to ensure your global business strategy is successful. Branding your identity and message toward global audiences can be a challenge. As much as you want to connect with your international audiences, you also don’t want to sacrifice the consistency of your brand. Being able to maintain your branding while targeting various regions across the globe requires a long process of brainstorming, research, testing and execution.

Developing a localization strategy:

While the most effective way to ensure that your branding is adapted toward global audiences is to work with a proven localization company, many businesses attempt to localize their messages in-house, for a variety of reasons.
Localization Strategy

Localization IS Strategy.

While this isn’t the ideal scenario, you can improve the success of your strategy by following certain guidelines, including the following:
  • Project manager – Whether you attempt to develop your strategy in-house, or opt to hire a localization agency, one of the most important first steps taken is the appointment of a localization project manager. A project manager becomes your point man, and will assume responsibility for the progress of the project. This not only minimizes the “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome, but will also ensure that you minimizing the number of man hours you have to commit to your localization strategy. 
  • Research – The project manager, alongside any support staff he may have, will begin the lengthy process of research to help your message and branding effectively connect to its target audiences. Research includes learning about the culture and social nuances of your targeted areas. This goes beyond knowing how to say “FREE” or “BUY” in Chinese or Swedish. Cultures across the globe have different perspectives on everything from colors to font choice, background music and more. In the U.S., websites lean toward a minimalist approach, while in Japan, sites are cluttered with text and flashing banners. In the U.S., white is often used for purity and wedding-related content, whereas in China, a successful localization strategy example would be to use red, as it is a traditional wedding color.Thorough and complete research is a vital component of global localization.  While the words you type on a page or screen speak volumes about your company, so too does your logo, icons, and more. And while you may have successfully localized your message for one culture, the process needs to be repeated for each and every new region you hope to target.
  • Testing  – Research can only go so far. Sooner or later you have to put your message out there. But why risk the reputation of your company by not testing your localization prior to an official launch? Localization testing gives you the opportunity to scrutinize your global message by showing it to a test audience that represents your target market. All the research and brainstorming you do means very little if your message falls flat. Testing provides you unbiased insight on what needs to to be altered or modified to effectively get your point across.
  • Execution – Once you make any and all revisions based on your testing results, you’re now ready to launch your message to your global audience.

Why is localization testing a key for success?

in our experience as innovative leaders in the localization industry, the one area that many businesses fail to be thorough with is localization testing. Yet this step is what prevents you from ever having to face embarrassing, and often costly, mistakes. You can put all the time and effort you want toward your research – and we encourage it. But when it comes down to it, what matters most is how your audience perceives your message. With language and perception constantly evolving (based on cultural changes, political climates, social media and more), there’s only one way to make sure your message hits its mark: by taking it to the people. Testing gives you this opportunity, without committing manpower and resources toward the process. It’s like a trial run before the big race. In our experience, more times than not, some changes (no matter how minor) are usually required following testing, which proves to us that this step cannot be skipped. Even the tiniest misinterpretations could cost you millions and set your global strategies back. Avoid these setbacks by testing your localized messages before you share them with the world.

Why localization tools don’t work

If you’re in the process of localizing your branding, chances are your goal is to target more than one culture or region. Many software localization companies target businesses like yours, claiming that the “easiest” and “most affordable” way to create multilingual versions of your webpages, documents, and recordings is to use some type of localization tool.

But that’s just a recipe for disaster.

Computers and software make decisions based on algorithms. But localizing a message isn’t just about stats and data. If that were the case, perhaps you wouldn’t need to test your message prior to execution. As we mentioned before, localizing is about how your target audience perceives a message. When we localize a company’s branding, we tap into all the humanistic components of an audience. Our goal is to make a global audience respond (physically and emotionally) to your message in the manner you intend. While a computer might be able to covert certain texts (although not organically) from one language to another, no machine can capture the emotions and responses that make us human. Great effort and detail went into the creation of your brand. The end goal, of course, was to establish an identity that conveys your message and connects to your audience. You didn’t rely on software and applications to develop your brand, did you? Then you shouldn’t rely on these tools to localize your brand, either.

Metro’s localization strategy services

Nothing good comes easy, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean reaching global audiences should be a challenge for you. At Metro Audio and Video, we employ a localization strategy that adapts to each of our clients. First and foremost, we get to know your vision and goals. Our mission isn’t to force you into some preconceived concepts, but to adapt our work to meet your needs. Once we’ve established a clear picture of your vision, we work closely with you to dissect each and every element of your branding and messaging. This includes looking at all forms of communication, from your website to YouTube videos, brochures, radio ads and more. As the global leaders of multimedia localization, we’ve perfected the art and science of localization. We have a team of language professionals, as well as localization experts, who work hand-in-hand to ensure your global brand conveys your message and speaks to your audience. We have an expertise in localizing documents, game content, videos, audio recordings, e-learning materials, webpages, TV and radio commercials, print marketing materials and more. Learn more about how we can help your message expand to new horizons today.