Going Global 101: How to Create a Localization Strategy

Part 8 in our Going Global Series

Last Updated: September 12, 2019 8:49PM

This is the eighth part in a ten-part blog series on “Going Global.” Over the next ten weeks, we’ll offer tips and tricks gleaned from twenty years in the business. Today: how to approach creating a content localization strategy.

In part eight we answer your burning questions surrounding localization planning:

  • Why should I spend my time on analytics?
  • What analytics will maximize my localization efforts?

Analytics, analytics, analytics                                                                                                                    

Much like a true student, Going Global 101 learners who are creating a localization strategy have to do their homework – homework here being analytics.  Pardon the cliché, but global companies aren’t built in a day. You will find that the big-name global forces of this generation did not start out that way. Success in globalization comes from being intentional with every step.

You overdo your course-load with fifty countries spanning four continents and three oceans, start small. Maybe start close to home. For US-based businesses, Canada is right next door. But even the most familiar markets can present serious challenges to localization. Canada’s linguistic landscape is incredibly complex. For starters, the government recognizes English and French as official languages, both of which have their own country-specific dialects.

Assignment #1: What should globalization look like for your company?

While language matters, it’s just the first of three key traits expanding companies should analyze when exploring any new market. Tone and digital medium preference are also important, which brings us to assignment #1: What should globalization look like for your company? Does your company have a globally consistent brand. Or perhaps you need to resonate within a local community?

Prioritizing global consistency means staying faithful to the original content and word choice. This is important for companies with broad goals to make their product available to the highest potential global reach. With more than 7,000 languages in the world, localizing them all could easily drown any company in too much translation work.

Striving for local relevance means adapting content to that specific market’s norms. This strategy is helpful for targeting focused regions — let’s say Latin America where each country speaks its own dialect of Spanish. If you want your product to resonate in these linguistically diverse communities, choose the appropriate dialect.

Assignment #2: How does culture affect localization approach?

Localization doesn’t stop with translation. Localization ties elements like tone, imagery, and subject matter together. Every time we approach a new project at Lionbridge, we look how language and culture intersect.  Say you’re an American video game developer expanding worldwide. A slogan like “America, Get Your Game On” needs localization on multiple levels. First, “America” should be replaced with the target country. Next, ask if your tone is appropriate. Perhaps it’s too brusque. What about subject?

Assignment #3: What is the right digital medium?

Once you’ve determined the correct language and tone, look at your audience. How do they prefer to access digital content? Different demographics use different mediums to go online.

Take Asia, for example. According to website thaitech, 90% of Thailand’s internet users access online data via mobile device. In this case, localize for a mobile platform by adapting your content to function and look the same as it does on a computer or tablet.

Don’t miss next week’s Going Global 101: The Going Global Quiz when you can test your knowledge as a globally inclined entrepreneur. Review before test day by starting with lesson #1 here.

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AUTHOR
Sophia Eakins