In the translation market, localization is no longer just an optional extra. It’s a necessity and a key marketing strategy.
But what is language localization?
It’s a set of methods that allows a message to be conveyed correctly to different languages and cultures.
Localization is a process that accompanies and includes the translation process itself. It’s about adapting a text to suit the beliefs, customs and values of the destination country.
THE RISKS OF A POORLY LOCALIZED TRANSLATION
A good example of a potential issue when taking a message across borders is that women in skimpy clothes, as seen frequently in ads in the Western world, would be seen to be scandalous in nations with strong religious beliefs.
Potential problems like this mean it’s essential to localize any business or product to make sure it’s suitable for the new culture it will be exposed to.
Otherwise you risk being immediately censored, or even banned from doing business in a new country.
Sometimes, however, it’s not enough just to localize a translation. You also have to be careful not to mislocalize it!
Such was the case with the famous American fast-food chain KFC. Their trademark slogan “finger lickin’ good” was poorly translated into Chinese as “we will eat your fingers”, when the company launched in China.
Another example is Colorado, the Coors Beer company.
When it launched its products in Mexico it translated its slogan “turn it loose” too literally, without adapting it for the Mexican culture. That meant that, for customers in the target market, it came across as a reference to suffering from diarrhea.
UNDERSTANDING TO BE UNDERSTOOD
To be understood and appreciated by customers, a translation must be tailored both to the company and to the new culture and destination country.
Localization is essential for breaking down language barriers and penetrating a new local market.
Understanding and being understood by your customer helps build a relationship of trust and respect.
Your customer will be happy to continue working with you and spread the word about your business or product.
Editing and perfecting translations, slogans and images to suit the destination country means you can be sure the product in question is never offensive or ridiculous.
On the contrary, it should highlight your communication and marketing skills, helping you stand out from your competitors.
Nowadays, good language localization is a way to prove your adaptability, professionalism and respect. It will certainly make you look good in the eyes of your customers.
If you rely on the experts to help you with the process, then you can avoid serious faux-pas that could cost you dearly.