Is your business ready for the global market? The temptation is to think of the big picture when rolling your brand out across different countries and cultures, but the secret to success is always in the attention to detail that gives your business that local feel.
Developing a local, global business might seem like a paradox, but making your website world ready relies on your ability to mind those cultural and linguistic gaps. Global readiness is a two-stage process that centres on the internalisation and localisation of your brand.
Internationalisation and localisation
Internationalisation – The design and development of a product, application or document to enable easy localisation for target audiences that vary in culture, region or language. Internationalisation is the technical side of the process that takes place at the developmental level. It should ensure collation and sorting works for any script and language, and allow any character to be rendered correctly.
Localisation – This is the next step in the process and refers to the adaptation of a product, application or document to meet the language, cultural, political and legal differences of a foreign market and country.
Representations of people, places and things
To make a product ‘global ready’, everything from the language, time zones, regional formats, calendars and currencies of a country need to be localised. But more than that, the representations of people, places and things all need to be viewed within a local context.
Even something as innocuous as an object or a hand gesture can be perceived differently in a local context. As an example, IKEA completely removed women from their pictures in their Saudi Arabian catalogue.
Was that something they were right to do? Politically, probably not, but IKEA is in the business of selling furniture, not making political statements, so aligning their catalogue with local cultural standards probably seemed like the right thing to do. Of course, if they had decided to use pictures of women, they would also have had to have been very conscious of the way they were dressed.
Businesses that fail to consider the cultural context that they’re operating in could be guilty of causing unintentional offence. This guide to hand gestures in different countries shows just how easy it is to make an innocent, but potentially offensive, mistake.
The key is to pay very close attention to how you want to present the people and things that represent your business. Hand gestures, landmarks, locations, clothing and even the proximity of one person to another all need to be considered.
Online resources should be ‘net neutral’
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the internet in the same way. They should not discriminate or charge differently depending on the user, content, site, platform, application or mode, etc.
In terms of online content and localisation, online resources should be…
- As applicable
- As appropriate
- And as relevant
…as they can possibly be. It should also be available…
- And for anyone
Mobility, agility and localisation
2015 was the first year in which there were more searches on mobile than on desktop devices in ten countries around the world, and this trend looks set to continue in 2016. Mobile search is an inherently dynamic experience.
- Can you find the information you need when you need it?
- Are maps enabled?
- Are directions available in the right language?
- Is location-specific information available in the right language?
Understanding where your customers are in the world, where they travel to and the languages they speak is central to the creation of a local, global, mobile brand.
Multiculturalism and multilingualism in the same location
One of the most challenging aspects of creating a local, global brand is understanding exactly who your customers are, and challenging the assumptions we hold about where they are in the world and the languages they speak.
For example, for a Canadian audience, we’ll be accustomed to the idea of delivering content in English and French, but in Vancouver, BC, there’s a significant migrant population. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the city of Richmond, the fourth largest city in Vancouver, speaks Chinese.
Even in an English-speaking cosmopolitan city like London, you can also actively market to a huge number of migrants. By looking at this Twitter map of London you can see just how many languages are spoken in different areas. Failing to localise to meet the needs of these users could prove to be a costly mistake.
Creating a truly local, global brand is so much more than translating one language into another. Understanding your customers and their culture, and making your localisation decisions based on data, rather than assumptions, is the secret to your success.
How can we help?
At Text ‘n More, we can help you compete on the global stage while retaining your local relevance. For more information about our professional translation and localisation services, please get in touch today.