Localisation is a term that, as a layman, you don’t often have pop up on your screen. Unless you are involved in international marketing. In which case, it is probably the most important factor when it comes to international success in e-commerce.
Localisation means adapting something so that it makes sense in the cultural context of the country in which it is concerned.
On the one hand, this works for visual material: scenes from video games and films have to be censored in some countries, changed in others in order to be published or to be comprehensible to the audience in the first place. A well-known example of this is the Pixar film “Everything Stands Head”. For example, there is a scene in which the main character has to eat broccoli as a little girl, but strictly refuses. Difficult for Japanese viewers to understand – Japanese children usually love broccoli. Accordingly, the Japanese version of the film does not contain broccoli, but green peppers on the girl’s plate.
It also works for the translation of texts. These, too, must not only be transmitted, but also adapted to the foreign target audience – a work for which a lot of language and cultural background knowledge is needed.
Good localisation is therefore particularly important for international online marketing, for example on multi-lingual e-commerce websites.
Why mistranslation can damage the image
Mistranslations usually make you smile. But sometimes they can cause trouble and undo an entire marketing campaign.
This is what happened to the telecommunications company Orange in 1994, when it launched an advertising campaign under the slogan “The future is bright, the future is Orange” in Northern Ireland, among others. Unfortunately, the company did not take into account the fact that large parts of Conservative Catholic Northern Ireland associated with it an evangelical community known as the Orange Order, which led to far-reaching boycotts of the provider.
This and numerous other examples show that impenetrable marketing and a lack of consideration of the respective living conditions in a country can quickly mean the end for a company at this location.
Localisation is not an easy task
The previous example illustrates how unpredictable some factors can be that ultimately determine the success of advertising. It is clear here how important it is to be well aware of linguistic, cultural and even political realities in a country and to pay close attention to avoiding such mistakes in the best possible way when translating and disseminating marketing campaigns.
However, this requires specially trained specialist translators for marketing. They are very familiar with localisation, know what needs different target groups have in a country and how best to reach them, and keep up to date with trends and social life in that country. In addition to comprehensive training in translation sciences and mastery of the respective languages at the native language level, additional training in the field of marketing is necessary in order to guarantee flawless results.
Specialist translators for marketing therefore usually have years of professional experience both as a translator and as a consultant. However, this is also needed, because even the smallest inaccuracies in the translation ensure that the tone is no longer hit so precisely – which is usually also clearly felt in the sales.