The Role Localization Plays in Global Marketing
The Role Localization Plays in Global Marketing
Ordinary people often think that translation and localization are the same. Both involve the translation of documents and websites from one language into another. With their interchangeable use, many marketers are not aware that there are differences between the two. The processes and the terms are similar. Translation is involved in localization. People, particularly marketers and those engaged in international business, should understand that localization now plays a very important role in the global marketing mix. It is this understanding that will also help your brand and you to market profitably and efficiently to different cultures.
In marketing, the right combination of elements determines the success of a brand. There are standards to follow, including a sound strategy for global marketing. In the same manner, localization and standardization are needed to balance your web content when you want to target a global market.
Your standardization strategy may include cost-driven strategies to leverage a single template for the product or service for the global market to minimize cost or a unified corporate and brand identity. It could also allow you to choose a few core brands with global acceptance rather than have multiple brands created specifically to a locale. When you have a standard strategy, your global marketing program will be centralized, which minimizes your needs in terms of control, management and coordination with your local subsidiaries.
Adapting to local markets
Still, when you start global marketing, the demands of the international market can be variable. While your standardization strategy may not be very applicable, it is still your benchmark. It is still a good basis since you would have done a good deal of research before you’ve come up with your international marketing standard.
The international marketing environment is complex, which helps promote diversity in several aspects. When you know and understand the economic development, conditions affecting product usage, the different cultures, legal and political systems as well as physical environment, you begin to realize the actual needs of your target market.
At this point you are able to identify your adaptation or localization strategy. Your localization strategy considers the integral diversity that exists in international markets. You begin to see each potential consumer as a cultural being with behaviors and values that were a result of the unique culture in the environment where the target resides. Now you realize that there are location-specific requirements and local consumer preferences that should be included in your marketing mix. You’ll know that promoting your product or service will be a combination of your standard marketing mix as well as various business strategies that will prove more useful in satisfying consumer wants and needs. When creating your localization strategy, you have to factor in cultural sensitivities to avoid offending or embarrassing local consumers. Take for example the Bimbo bread, which is a popular product made by Bimbo Bakeries, a part of Grupo Bimbo from Mexico. The brand name was coined in 1945 from Bingo and Bambi by the owner of the company and does not have a meaning in Mexican Spanish. In Italian, it means children, while it is cocoon in Hungarian. However, it elicits much laughter in other countries where it is being sold because of the “lewd” connotation of the name.
Needs and effects of localization
Localization, when done properly, will save you millions. You might have read some horror stories of brands and products that have offended or confused international consumers due to poor translation. Messages resulting from insensitive marketing can be very costly and may be permanent in some cases.
Localization allows you to compete in a diverse international market fairly. While English is a universal language, not all people in the world are able to speak English. What localization does is to present your products and services in a language that your target audience understands. It is a basic marketing strategy to conquer a new market. Before the world became a digital marketplace, savvy companies have already done their fair share of localizing their products, whether it is changing their pricing scheme or their product packaging.
Localization goes beyond word-for-word substitution because information is interpreted differently by different cultures. In localization, the translator has to be extra careful to ensure that the translation work is of the highest quality. It needs to echo the writer’s original intent while the translation should read as if it’s actually done in the language of the intended target market. Localization needs translators who are very familiar will all the latest developments in the language and well as its nuances. Localization requires translators to produce work that are culturally appropriate, which could also be the guide in writing text for future applications.
Should brand names be changed?
The decision to do this depends on many things. Changes in a brand name have direct effect on brand identity. However, there are cases when the original brand name will not be acceptable in a target locale. Changing the brand name depends on how strong and popular your product is. It also depends on legalities. “Golf” is a brand name for a car model made by Volkswagen. In the United States if encountered difficulty in marketing because the Gulf Oil Company has applied a trademark on anything that has Gulf in it, even if it is spelled differently.
Localization should also consider what the brand stands for. Guinness is a beer that’s marketed as a man’s drink in Ireland. In Nigeria however, it’s sold as a drink for women. In some cases, the brand name or logo will not be changed. What will be changed is the tagline or slogan, to suit local audiences.
There are many variables that affect localization. After you have done your homework, you need to find the right localization vendor to execute your international objectives. You will need a localization partner that will guide you through the localization process and at the same time understand your goals and ROI objectives. From the beginning, you should plan your product to be adaptable to a multicultural market, which will give you far greater savings.
Sean Hopwood, MBA is founder and President of Day Translations, Inc., an online translation and localization services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications. By helping both corporations and the individual, Day Translations provides a necessary service at the same time as developing opportunities for greater sympathy and understanding worldwide. With a personal goal in life is to bring world peace through education, tolerance and cultural awareness, Mr. Hopwood firmly believes that by working together, we can make the world a better place.
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