Every new opportunity presents a challenge: how do you engage with your customers in disparate parts of the world. It’s no longer enough to have your website in one language; localisation for all target markets is essential.

Organisations ranging from micro businesses to multinational corporations and local councils to national governments rely on professionals in the language industry to globalise, internationalise, localise, translate and interpret the content of all types for their audiences.

Don’t get lost in translation

woman staring at map

Thanks to the global reach of social media, the perils of worldwide mockery as well are real. Scores Facebook pages and other social media channels exist with the sole aim of exposing and ridiculing companies that get translations wrong.

From the Chinese motorway sign pointing the way to a “Racist Park” to a beauty product advertising “Face Bashing”, examples abound of poorly researched translations which are now – and forever more – discoverable online.

Translations done on the cheap are a significant risk, providing easy fodder for the media and potentially doing a lot of damage to your company’s credibility. It can also be very costly. In Found in Translation, an analysis of the world’s $31 billion translation industry, authors Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche document the (now well-known) case where HSBC faced a $10 million rebranding bill after its “Assume Nothing” catchphrase was mistranslated as “Do Nothing” in various countries.

ContentEqualsMoney.com details several more gaffes which have made companies a laughing stock in their target markets. An English-Spanish mistranslation by Parker Pens converted “it won’t leak and embarrass you” into “it won’t leak or make you pregnant” while Braniff Airlines suggested prospective Spanish-speaking travellers “Fly naked” rather than “Fly in leather”.

Translation is only one piece of the localization jigsaw



Digital Marketing Magazine points out that successful localisation of a website or marketing campaign relies on a lot more than just accurate translations. Consideration also needs to be given to cultural sensitivities, the characteristics – and desires – of local consumers and how key messages might need to be refined to work for local markets.



A picture speaks a thousand words


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And it’s not just text that can cause offence; images that are acceptable in one culture may be considered strange or even offensive in another. Consider the case of Gerber, the Nestle-owned baby food manufacturer, which started selling its product in Africa. It used the same packaging as for the USA – depicting a cute baby on the label. Too late, they discovered that labels on products in Africa show what’s IN the product because most people can’t read. Fiat blundered when they released an ad with Richard Gere driving a Lancia Delta from Hollywood to Tibet. Gere is hated in China for being an outspoken supporter of the Dalai Lama – there was an enormous on-line uproar on Chinese message boards commenting that they would never buy a FIAT car.



Why businesses shouldn’t scrimp on translation



Getting it right is the key to effective localisation and GALA has some useful guidance. The agency says translation is only one of several elements of the localization process; it may also include adapting graphics, modifying content to suit the tastes and consumption habits of other markets, adapting design and layout to properly display translated text, converting elements such as currencies, units of measure and using local formats for dates, addresses, and phone numbers as well as addressing local regulations and legal requirements. The aim is to ensure a product looks and feels as if it’s been created specifically for that market, no matter what the language, culture, or location.

But do consumers really care? Well, yes, most definitely. In 2014, Common Sense Advisory polled 3,002 customers in 10 countries (Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Turkey) to see whether it’s true that companies can increase sales by localising their products and websites. They found a substantial preference for the consumer’s mother tongue. 55% of consumers prefer to only buy products from websites which have info in their own language, and 56% said the ability to obtain information in their own language is even more important than price. Most tellingly, 86% of localised marketing campaigns outperformed English-only campaigns.



Don’t just translate, localise!


japanese temple


Experts in localisation all agree that, for businesses aiming to reach a global audience, it’s clearly vital to get it right – and there are a wealth of companies out there to help. Demand for language services and supporting technologies is growing at an annual rate of 5.52% and in 2016 the global market for language services and technology surpassed US$40 billion.


We’re here to help!


Volcano City provides script translations and localised voiceovers for clients worldwide. We believe that as a brand, you want to ensure you capture the same tone-of-voice and use of native lingo that you’ve used in your original video. From scripting, translation, and capture, to animation, voice-over, and delivery, the impact of multimedia localisation is now enormous and should form an integral part of any business’s marketing strategy. The output can be anything from a YouTube commercial to a Facebook competition, or FAQ videos for your own website, but having a cultural awareness through localisation is pivotal to expanding your global reach.


About us: Volcano City

Video production experts Volcano City design and create innovative multi-language video solutions, which makes localizing live streams and animated videos both cost-effective and technically efficient. Their IP solution provides fan engagement opportunities for brands through targeted content to multilingual audiences.

We love to hear from you!

+44 (0)131 553 4977
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