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:
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.
To adapt a message toward a specific audience.
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. 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.