In Translation/Localization

What does the Owl symbolize in your culture? We hear some saying wisdom, knowledge, intelligence, education, but hear others saying death and pessimism. Have you launched a new product in Brazil and had your printings designed in purple? Did you know that purple is associated with mourning in Brazil and other cultures like Thai? What looks standard in one part of the world or in one culture may be totally offensive or inappropriate in other cultures.

The era of local-centric products/services has passed. Now, designing and developing products/services on one side of the world and then using them on the other side is quite common. Closed economies relying on local production is no longer an option; a product/service can contain components developed in many countries before reaching the end-user.

Start with a Strategy

In the absence of a globalization strategy and internationalization concepts, we frequently see localization processes start after the development of products/services. Meaning, the development and execution of the design without considering cultural aspects. The localization service providers struggle to adapt the content for local use, and although they do their best, the boundaries of the product/service design limit the results.

Products/services may be of excellent functionality fitting for the needed purpose. However, on the other hand, they are culturally not acceptable for many reasons. Users are looking for products/services that meet their needs and keep their culture in mind. The following are all examples of factors considered by users as they’re evaluating products and services:

  • Traditions
  • Principals
  • Languages
  • Religions
  • Ethics
  • Geopolitical aspects
  • Weather
  • Environment
  • Calendars
  • Product names
  • Colors
  • Logos
  • Slogans
  • Characters
  • Greetings
  • Numbers
  • Naming conventions
  • And more!

Mistakes Can Be Costly

The costs associated with improper cultural assessment & adaptation can be huge. Costs could encompass changes, replacement, withdrawal, loss of reputation, and bad positioning. Although there are many examples of improper cultural consideration, it is still continuously recurring.

The stories about the two famous Japanese car models illustrate the dangers of not paying attention to cultural differences. In this example, the names of the models were inappropriate in different countries and both manufacturers had to rename the models. Those stories are commonly known examples of the cost of inattention to cultural differences, even with major aspects like model names. There are many other examples where the direct and indirect costs were much higher.

Localization is Key

Products and services that are meant for selling worldwide must be open for local requirements in a way that facilitates the localization, marketing, and sales processes. It is up to the marketing and sales personnel to learn and understand the cultures where they are selling to be successful.

Cultural diversity readiness is a key component of globalization and internationalization strategies that must be adapted starting from the design phase of the product/service all the way through the development, localization, marketing, sales, after-sales support, and finally, customer feedback phases. This concept is too essential to not be a key part of the product or service’s quality standards.

Here at Vocalink Global, we understand the importance of culture in the development and execution of new products and services. Connect with us today to learn how we can help you hit the ground running and set you up for success from the start of the project.

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