Website localisation - Getting it right the first time

We all know by now that taking your business global has never been more important. It has also never been easier. With the internet and social media offering opportunities for expansion into almost every corner the world, it has never been easier to gain exposure and recognition for your brand.

If you’re thinking of expanding your brand or business abroad it is so important that you get it right the first time when communicating your message to new markets. It’s about more than simply speaking the right language; the words you use could make or break your efforts to globalise and it is all too easy to get it wrong. This is where localisation comes in.

Localising your website, marketing materials and social media are essential for success and here we’ll discuss the two most important things to consider when planning out the localisation of your business.

Getting a quality translation

The most important thing to get right when taking your brand global is the translation of your brand message. Get this wrong and you could not only lose time and money but you also run the risk of seriously damaging your reputation.

When Pepsi had their strapline “Come alive with Pepsi Generation” translated into Mandarin the result was “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave” which caused serious offence in China.

And when The American Dairy Association translated their slogan “Got Milk?” into Spanish it somehow became “Are You Lactating?”

It’s not hard to see why no business would want to make mistakes like these.

It’s also important to consider issues that could arise from dialect differences as well as from literal, word for word translations. For example, the word Coca-cola can sound like the Chinese words for “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax” depending on the dialect.

If you intend to make an impression in your target region for all the right reasons, I’d strongly advise you to hire a professional to translate your website and marketing materials. There are plenty out there and most have really competitive rates so shop around to find the right one for you.

It’s worth looking for a freelancer or agency that specialises in localisation and marketing translation, like Comtec Translations, as they’re more likely to have knowledge of marketing and branding as well as translation.

Localising with social media

Choose your social media platforms carefully. Don’t assume that Twitter and Facebook are the beginning and end of social media in your target region. Invest some time into researching the most influential social media platforms in your target region and make sure you’re active on the right ones.

A few examples to look into include Qzone, Sina Weibo and Renren in China, Odnoklasniki and VK in Russia, Orkut, Viadeo and Sonico in Southern and Latin America.

Also, you should consider whether it is best to have a single profile for each platform or to have multiple, region specific social media profiles.

As an example, if Facebook is highly prevalent in your target region, you might want to have a single Facebook profile for all regions you operate in. This certainly sounds like it would make life easier, but bear in mind that any content you post will need to be relevant to followers in all regions, which will almost certainly result in content that is impersonal and unlikely to encourage user engagement.

Single profiles also mean that followers who speak a different language to your original posting language will have to rely on the platform’s inbuilt translation tools and as we saw above, this kind of translation is rarely a good thing.

In most cases it is by the far the best option is to create unique social profiles for every region you operate in. This way, you can target your updates and posts to each specific audience whilst ensuring your translations are accurate and relevant.

In short, if you’re starting to think about expanding your business, the best advice I can give is do your research and find a reliable translator!