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How to Build a Knock-out Localization Strategy

How to Build a Knock-out Localization Strategy

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How ‘local’ are you? How ‘local’ is local enough? That’s what you’re just about to find out. Carried away by the expansion grand design, many companies make the mistake of launching into new markets without having a localization strategy in place. Conquering a new market is not a fluke. It takes just as much brainwork as it does legwork (if not more). But don’t let fear of the unknown bog you down.

How do I start? What do I need to localize? Where? For whom? The key to building a successful localization strategy is in answering these questions. Let’s get started!

The making of a killer localization strategy

Localizing your marketing is a focused endeavour and a deliberate decision to adapt your brand messaging to the target market.

There are several ways you can reach out to your target audience:

Localized marketing – Any effort of crafting your marketing messages in a way that appeals to your local audience.

Localization marketing – A strategy whereby you allocate resources to scaling your marketing efforts through localization. You can do this alongside other activities, including local native advertising.

Marketing localization – Adapting the entire user experience and user journey to the target locale.

Essentially, all these concepts fall under the all-encompassing umbrella of ‘localization strategy’:

The most important element of achieving growth is considering your long-term goals, given your company’s current stage and scaling before going big. Most companies start small by testing only specific geos with localized messaging. If that works well, they broaden their outreach.

Go for ‘All-inclusive’

Localizing your brand means also being inclusive, considering all members of your target audience. This means crafting everything from marketing copy to UI/UX designs with the human element in mind.

To build trust in a new market is to shift focus from the corporate “I/we/us” to “them/they”, the customers. To get a better idea of what optimising for inclusivity entails, we spoke with Michal Shinitzky, CEO at Pangea Global, who highlighted the importance of balancing brand, cultural, and gender neutrality awareness.
A few typos or grammar mistakes are unfortunate, but ignoring localization matters can cost you your clients’ trust, which it’s almost impossible to regain once lost. From the way you formulate your website copy and design, your clients will be able to tell if you care about them or not.
Therefore, when you localize your website, mobile app, video game, etc., you must think beyond words. “Considering small things like honorifics or appellatives expressing politeness matters tremendously. How you address your clients as “Ms/Mr/Mrs/Miss” or “She/Her/He//Him/They/Them” shows you care. We live in an age where gender neutrality is widespread. Languages like Chinese or Persian are already gender-neutral. We need to consider gender neutrality more in-depth when crafting our marketing localization strategy. If we allocate more space to Latin names and surnames when localizing websites for the Spanish-speaking markets, why not also consider gender neutrality?” Mrs Shinitzky said.
In 2019, the Meriam-Webster dictionary included “they” as the pronoun to be used when referring to a “single person whose gender identity is nonbinary”.
That being said, another aspect worth paying heed to when localizing your website is gender neutrality and how your target market/culture positions itself relative to it. Spanish, for example, adds “x”, “@”, or “e” at the end of each noun for inclusivity, as in “Latinx” or “Latin@” (especially in the US).
Japanese also has a pretty similar approach to gender neutrality. When addressing customers in Japan, you are expected to add the prefix “sama”.

Think “local” when designing your UI/UX

Ideally, you should anticipate any localization needs at the design stage. That said, it’s always best that designers use Figma, Sketch or other similar apps and tools to create prototypes and mockups. Visualising each element as the design progresses will enable you to identify potential areas of improvement, proceed with the quick fixes, and anticipate the next “must-have” element.

But how does that work in practice? When localizing your UI/UX interface, you need to consider the following:

  ●  Character count differences between languages

  ●  Language script: left-to-right or right-to-left

  ●  Text readability post translation

  ●  Imagery correlation with the local culture

  ●  Colour awareness

Especially when you start designing your user interface for a new locale, you need to think about the localization practicalities: Is it possible to translate my UI into 30 languages? As the process advances, you may come across different challenges. Before you go live, you need to check the translated version of your original UI. From this perspective, including the revision stage in your development workflow is crucial for your project’s success.

Document every step of the process

Here comes the boring part of the localization process: documentation. Elements such as tone of voice, style, terminology, acronyms and phrases referring to your brand must all be written down in a style guide for translators and localizers.

Always include examples of competitors you would like to emulate and even those you dislike to help designers, translators, and localizers get the big picture of how you want to project the brand to the target locale.

Conduct thorough keyword research in the local language to ensure your web page will rank as high as possible.

One last thing: don’t forget social media. Now, let’s get down to work, shall we?

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