Category Archives: Localization

Three Things to Consider Before Exporting Your Product to Another Country

Thinking about launching a new product overseas? There are certain factors you should consider before you do. While it can be very lucrative for your company to expand to other markets, it can also be detrimental if you overlook some key considerations. So how do you make the call for your business? These three points can help you decide if your business is ready to launch a new product overseas.

1. Create a marketing strategy. Consider who your ideal client is in the target countries so that you are able to market to them effectively. Where do they hang out? What social media platforms do they use? Don’t assume that Facebook and Twitter are the perfect platforms to reach your ideal client just because they are in the U.S. For example, in China you’ll find that Instagram is more popular than Twitter at almost double the rate. According to social media strategist Vincenzo Cosenza, Japan is the only country where Twitter is the most popular social media platform. And Facebook-owned Instagram is consistently more popular than Facebook itself in several African countries, Iran and Indonesia.

 

2. Localize your brand and products for a specific country/market. You will almost certainly need to localize your product packaging, advertising, package inserts, assembly instructions and manuals to ensure you successfully reach your target demographic. What works for your domestic market is not guaranteed to have the same effect internationally. You will need to think about the language you use, of course, but this also includes your brand name, images associated with your brand and those used in your ads, as well as colors, marketing and technical communications, etc.

Take the story of IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad. The Swedes are known for modern home design with simple forms and clean lines. Kamprad drew on his knowledge of the Swedish people and culture, and he intentionally designed furniture that was attractive and affordable. In fact, as many people in Sweden’s larger cities do not own cars, he designed many pieces that could ideally fit under one’s arm and be carried home on a bicycle.

3. Understand safety standards abroad. Check into local product regulations and safety standards where you plan to export. If you want to break into countries within the European Union, for example, you may need to go through a conformity assessment process so that you can attach the CE mark to your product (a mark ensuring customer safety that is required on many products sold in the EU).

Bonus Tip! Pay attention to language variants. It is important to understand that while certain countries may be known to speak certain languages, variants among languages are not to be dismissed. Languages are continuously changing. Chinese in Mainland China— Mandarin with Simplified Chinese as the written form— differs greatly from the Chinese spoken in Hong Kong: Cantonese with Traditional Chinese as the written form. Ignoring variants that affect things like spelling, word and character usage and other fine details could be roadblocks to your brand’s success.

If your business has successfully launched a product in another country, what tips would you share for others looking to do the same?

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Filed under Global Markets, Localization, Marketing, Translation Services

How Societal Values and Customs Can Make or Break Your International Deal

If your company is based in the United States, you are likely familiar with business etiquette here in North America. It would be normal, expected even, for you to arrive on time (or better… early!) and shake someone’s hand when you greet them during a business meeting, for example, or even to invite fellow associates out for dinner to both discuss a potential deal and socialize with your colleagues.

If you’ve ever given thought to expanding your business to an international market, it is essential to consider how business etiquette may differ in other countries and how adapting to these differences could vastly impact your ability to perform well in a global market.

Translating and/or localizing your product and services are great steps toward entering the global market. However, these aren’t the only things to consider in moving your business forward in a foreign culture. It’s probable that you will need to work directly with other business associates in that country for a successful launch, so learning a little about proper business etiquette there can really go a long way. Your meetings could be face-to-face, via email, video chat, or over the phone. If you are trying to launch your brand in multiple countries, it is essential to familiarize yourself with etiquette for each form of communication. Of course, it is not necessary to learn each and every custom for every location, but if you have a basic understanding of how business etiquette works in each one, the likelihood of success is greater.

Believe it or not, business etiquette stems from one area that people often overlook when preparing for a business trip abroad or a meeting with foreign counterparts. Societal values and customs. You may be thinking, “What do people’s values and customs have to do with business etiquette?” Well, you’d be surprised. Take, for example, a U.S. company that wants to do business in China. A group of American and Chinese executives gather in a meeting room in order to talk about a potential partnership or collaboration. During the discussion, one of the U.S. executives asks what it would take to go ahead and “make a deal.” As this is only their first meeting, the Chinese executives are offended by his seemingly direct and abrupt manner.  That’s because, in China, it can be inappropriate to begin your meeting by discussing the deal you want to close in such a direct manner. It can be considered rude, and you may return home without any deal. Instead, it is more appropriate to develop a relationship with your business partner and avoid interrupting him or her at all costs!

When handing your business card to someone in China, or receiving one from a potential business partner, do so with both hands. This is considered a sign of respect. If you are holding a business meeting in Mexico, for instance, it would not be uncommon for the meeting to begin a little late and for your colleagues to engage in an embrace as a greeting, instead of a handshake, once a perceived friendship is established. Conversely, if you are conducting business in Germany, arriving late is considered rude and business meetings are very formal (always shake hands and greet someone as Herr [Mister] last name even when you know them well).

We recently had a client request the translation of his business card into Japanese. This is also a sign of respect for the Japanese speaker who receives the card. The fact that our client took the time to translate the card for his foreign counterparts shows that he took the time to make their interaction more personable and smooth. We did remind the client that he should add the country code to the beginning of his direct telephone line and to avoid using the extra toll-free 800 number, as it would not be functional outside of the United States. Remember, try to make it easy for your potential clients to reach you!

Since there is no global standard of business etiquette, we recommend always researching the societal values and norms of those with whom you wish to do business. This step ensures that you you will abide by that country’s customs and not come across poorly in the interaction. It also shows respect for your business associates abroad and makes a good first impression on them. Being prepared with more than just your service  or product offerings shows that you are dedicated to doing business in that area and will greatly improve your chance of success when launching your localized product or service.

If you found this article useful, you may also enjoy:

The Benefits of Translating Your Newsletter

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Translating and Localizing Your Website On a Budget

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Filed under Global Markets, Localization, Marketing, Translation Services

Translating and Localizing your Website on a Budget: Where to Begin

Expanding to a global market can be an exciting time for your business. Millions of Internet users speak a language other than English, and localizing your website to some of these specific target audiences allows your company the opportunity to reach a broader scope of people. Even in countries where English use is fairly widespread, consumers still prefer to seek out information in their native language, so having access to your content in that language will give your company an edge in a competitive market. Localization, which includes translation, also entails adapting your website’s content for other markets.

Ideally, all aspects of your company’s website would be fully translated and localized for all target audiences you have decided to reach. However, it is not always within a company’s budget to localize the entire website at once. Knowing where to begin can be helpful in terms of adhering to your budget while still making your website more accommodating for your domestic or international market. We’ve prepared some ideas to help get you started.

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Choosing your initial target audience(s)

If you plan to localize your content for multiple domestic or international audiences, it may be easiest to handle a select few first. Decide which languages and markets will be most beneficial for your company to reach. Not only will you have learned from the process of localizing the content for a few select audiences first, it will also allow you to spread out the costs of localization over time, which may be more desirable for your company budget.

Deciding which pages to localize

Localizing your website’s content can also come in stages. It is important to decide which pages are critical for your business, and which have messages that are important for your domestic or international audience. If you have a local events page or careers page, for example, these would not be of high importance to translate or localize, since they would only be necessary for your original English-speaking audience.

On the other hand, pages that are specific to your company’s brand, such as your mission statement or an About Us page, would be of higher priority so that your new customers feel connected with you from the beginning. Some other pages that may be important for your company to consider up front would be forms you need the customer to fill out like requests for information or pages with news about company updates.

Ultimately, what you decide to prioritize will depend on your company’s mission and vision for your domestic or international reach. We are always happy to assist you in deciding the best path to take when it comes to expanding to new audiences. Please feel free to contact us today for more information!

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Filed under Customer Service, Localization, Marketing, Translation Services

Your Website is Translated… Now What?

If you’ve recently translated your website, then you’ve taken a huge first step in terms of growing your marketing demographic! However, you may notice that your customer base does not necessarily grow right off the bat just based on the translated website alone. Your goal to expand your customer base into other cultures is a great one, and here are some steps to help drive traffic to your newly translated website and continue along the path of reaching this new demographic.

  • Create marketing plans aimed at bringing in your new target demographic. Advertise your content in sources relevant to this group, localizing your advertisements to reach these new customers. If your customers do not realize that there is an entire web page designed with them in mind, you won’t see the full benefit of its creation!
  • Use social media to your advantage! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are just a few popular social media channels that can help you reach more people faster. Know which social media platforms you’d like your company to start with, and focus on those. Learn what drives customer engagement across these channels and begin to implement these. Create a Facebook business page specific to your company’s niche within this target market. Point people to the content on your site whenever it’s relevant to send people there so that they engage with you where you’d like them to end up. Ensure your social media pages are easily identifiable as your own brand, but specific to your new market. If your company’s brand is typically associated with being carefree, make sure your new page adapts that perception, but tailor it to your audience. You might, for example, have someone run a “Business Name_Mexico” Instagram page to ensure the content is relevant. Such relevant and engaging content will drive your customers from social media to your website.
  • Engage with target customers on review sites when possible. This lets them know their voice is heard and that your company is serious about engaging with them in their own language on topics that are important to them.

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Once you’ve driven traffic to your website, it is important to keep these customers engaged to avoid losing them. Make your website visually appealing and tailor it to your target market. Be sure the first things your customers see when they visit the site are relevant to their needs. If it is not visually appealing or puts the customer off in any way, you run the risk of them leaving the website and not returning. You can also get feedback by surveying your customers while they’re using the site. Many people will gladly share their opinion and may help you identify any potential issues on the site as it relates to that culture (or in general!) and how you could possibly fix that going forward. This newly translated website is a great step in ensuring you are reaching your new customer base, and with the right focus on demographic going forward, you should see your website’s traffic increase along the way.

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Filed under Customer Service, Global Markets, Localization, Marketing, Translation Services

Is there such a thing as Universal Spanish in translation?

Although we know that producing translations that are localized as specifically as possible depending on the particular locale of your intended audience(s) can be fruitful, many people find it may not be realistic to have their project localized for all of the different varieties of Spanish spoken in different locales. In 2010, Spanish was ranked number two in terms of number of native speakers worldwide, falling second only to Mandarin. There are many different countries with Spanish speakers, and oftentimes, a company may want to release its product to an audience that spans across many of these different locales. While each area has a different dialect and therefore could require specific changes in the finalized, localized product, it is not always within someone’s budget to go through this process each time for every locale, and therefore, may pose the question, “Is there a universal Spanish I can use? Something everyone will understand?” The answer to this is both “yes” and “no” and may also depend on the text.

Even though there may not be an official “Universal Spanish” language dialect, there are certainly terms and phrases that are considered a more neutral version of the language, without the influence of local jargon or slang. The Real Academia Española, for example, strives to provide terms that are recognized by speakers of various dialects and does well to provide the standard definitions of words, as well as their various possible colloquial meanings, which may vary by country or region. For this reason, it is a good resource and starting point for a linguist who may wish to localize a translated text into a Spanish that is somewhat universal.

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However, it is still noteworthy to mention that the linguists performing both translation and proofreading or editing of your content are influenced by their own respective countries and locales, which can inadvertently impact a word choice for even the most skilled linguist. The team will work together to provide the most neutral Spanish possible, and a skilled team will provide a great rendition of the text with terms that are mostly universal. There is always a possibility that someone will read a translated word or phrase and still interpret in it a context that may not have been originally intended.

In short, it is definitely possible to translate a text and localize it for a more universal Spanish overall. However, in doing so, there is no guarantee that the language team will not choose a term or phrase that is more commonly used in one area over another, despite its general neutrality. If you know the target audience is specific to a few locales, it is best to let the project manager know so that he or she can ensure the finalized product is best suited for your needs. It may be the case that your text is better suited to a specific area, rather than trying to remain universal.

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Filed under Customer Service, Global Markets, Legal translation/interpreting, Localization, Marketing, Medical translation/interpreting, Translation Services