Don’t Color the World Yellow: Why Localization Is Key to Successful Marketing

sdl logoThe Guardian Newspaper in the UK recently found that by 2020, the quality of a brand’s customer experience will top price and product as a key differentiator. This is not surprising, considering the biggest brands today (think Amazon, Facebook, and even Google) revolutionized the user experience, making the internet more than just a mainstream medium and into an individualized platform thanks to Personalization and Localization.

This has made the demand for relevant content even stronger, more so, than the millennial audience’s demand for privacy—shocking, I know. Forbes reported that although 70% of millennials say no one should have access to their data or online behavior, 25% will trade it away for more relevant advertising, 56% will share their location for coupons or deals, and 51% say they’ll share information with companies generally. Given this trend, companies are ill-advised to ignore the Localization process in their Marketing strategy as even the biggest trend of online marketing – online privacy – is being put on the backburner by their biggest stakeholders, their customers.

Fostering Brand Loyalty

Brands that don’t meet their customers, halfway endanger their operations as they can no longer count on brand loyalty to keep them afloat. In fact, Gallup found that only 25% of millennials are emotionally and psychologically attached to a brand, product or category. Companies need to rise above traditional marketing methods to make their content stand out against the rest now more than ever.

When I talk about brand loyalty, I’m not referring to a specific car or piece of clothing. I’m talking about the loyalty that makes customers comfortable with buying a product they’ve never seen in the flesh or tested out. This kind of trust is built over time and comes from proven, consistent quality. And Localization is key here.

Let’s consider a 40-something frequent Business Traveler, who is researching hotels for an upcoming family vacation with her two kids. Poor Localization will create hotel listings that describe ‘executive desks’ in every room, whereas proper Localization would synthesize a page that lists hotel amenities for children like a pool, proximity to an amusement park or on-site babysitting services, using her search terms, social media posts or most recent browsing behavior. This individualized content cultivates an excellent customer experience that sends a loud message, like “our company respects and cares for you,” making her likely to repeat business.

Entering the Omnimarket World

The world is no longer operating in silos and companies must ensure their Localization process is sensitive to cultural differences. In regions where hierarchy is highly valued, showcasing executives in discussions and across promotional materials may garner great results whereas, in egalitarian societies, the brand is better off emphasizing equality across the company. This can even manifest itself in seemingly trivial design choices like using the color yellow, which is regarded as cheery and warm in the United States but symbolizes jealousy in Germany and pornography in China.

It’s also critical to remember that the only language that matters is the customer’s language. CSA research reported that 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language. No matter the company’s country of origin, organizations today must present content to audiences in characters they prefer, whether it’s in Latin script or in the Devanagari alphabet.

That said, companies may prize their vast amounts of translated content but without taking context into consideration before pushing it out to the public, the content is ultimately useless. A speech simultaneously interpreted during a conference is a great example. Would you expect the interpreted and the translated output to be the same? Of course not. A word-for-word translation delivered live would rob the speech of its impact so translators prioritize delivering the message accurately, versus sharing exact translations. The impact a message was created for must transcend across cultures, and organizations that realize this will be better equipped to tackle the omnimarket world.

Looking Forward

Localization departments will reinvent themselves as the main drivers of omnimarket strategies. They’ll analyze machine data and align disparate departments to capture the attention and loyalty of every consumer in every market. Essentially, the localizers of today will become the omnimarketers of tomorrow so organizations must capitalize on the opportunity while they still have the chance.

The question is no longer, “How can we translate this massive volume of content?” But rather, “What can we do now that language is no longer a barrier to reaching customers?”

Read more: Translation and Localization: Options for Getting into More Markets Faster

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