The ever-expanding reach of the internet has opened more and more of the world to businesses with global ambitions. Companies are building brand awareness online through websites, blogs and social media, with hopes of reaching markets all over the world. However, just having an online presence is not enough to make an impact in foreign-language markets; it is also necessary to make accommodations for cultural differences. In order to create global awareness for its products, a company must first identify specific foreign markets to target, and then customize its message for each of those markets. In other words, in order to globalize, we need to localize.
Website localization is the process of adapting an existing website for a foreign market. Marketing materials also can – and should – be localized. Localization is the most important step for any business trying to globalize its brand. While English is still the “official” language of business around the world, companies can no longer afford to assume that potential buyers speak English or that they will buy products from a website that is only available in English. According to a recent study done by Common Sense Advisory, 52.4% of consumers buy products only from websites where information is provided in their own language. Consumers clearly prefer to shop for products and services in their own language.
Before beginning the localization process, a business must research the culture of its new market at the local level, and consider how best to engage with its new customers. If proper market research is done, embarrassing and costly mistakes can be avoided. Recently, IKEA ran into ethical problems when they airbrushed pictures of women out of the company’s 2013 catalogue for Saudi Arabia – an inappropriate move that hurt its image both abroad and at home in Sweden. To avoid making mistakes like this, a company must look for local feedback to gain familiarity with the culture. Sometimes localization is simple, and only a few adjustments need to be made; in other cases, it may be impossible to use the original content. That’s when a process called transcreation may be necessary. Transcreation entails creating new content for a local market that delivers the same impact as the original.
Translation is just one of the steps to localization. When undertaking the translation of your website content, make sure that your service provider has thorough and up-to-date knowledge of both cultures involved, as well as familiarity with your company’s vision and values. CETRA website localization services include reviewing the existing website and offering recommendations for making it translation-friendly, cultural consulting on factors such as the use of colors and images, translation of text and graphics, linguistic and functionality testing, and management of site updates through Content Management System applications.