Why Localisation Matters for Global Brands

This article is in partnership with Day Translations and DayVIP.

Localisation is the group of processes that include translation to adapt a product or service to a different country or a local audience, taking into account all the elements that would make a customer think that the content they are interacting with had been created with their own language and culture in mind.

Localisation makes consuming content a seamless process and can help the customer’s journey from an initial enquiry to closing a sale.

Formatting Content for a Localised Audience

One of the many aspects of translating content is looking at times and dates, as their format can vary in different countries. A typical example is how dates are formatted in the United States, where the conventional way to write them is to have the year first, then the month, then the day.

In Continental Europe, the opposite is true, as dates are written starting with the day, followed by the month and then the year.

Using the wrong formatting can cause confusion: say, for example, that a date is written 5/7/2023. Would that be the 5th of July 2023 or the 7th of May 2023? That will depend on where the content originates from.

Similarly, numbers may be written differently from one country to another: in the UK, for example, ten thousand is written as 10,000 but in Continental Europe it is written as 100.000.

Units of measure can be different, for example in the UK and the United States weights are calculated using the Imperial method (ounces, pounds, stones) while other countries use the Metric system (grams, kilos).

Localisation also goes beyond this and takes into account more specific elements of a language and culture, trying to emulate the overall meaning, humour and any colloquial expressions that would make the audience relate more to some content. Basically the aim of localisation is to make content, a product or a service feel familiar and make it easier to connect with it, with a view to motivate a potential buyer to make a purchase.

Why Do You Need to Localise a Product in a Different Country?

Localisation is the process of making a product feel instantly familiar and easier to use to a potential customer. To achieve this, you need to employ a translator and a consultant that can provide the right context and references to avoid costly mistakes.

Talking of costs, at first glance you may want to save money by trying to do everything yourself, for example if you have lived in more than one country and have been immersed in the local culture. However, any immediate savings may get erased through making the wrong first impression.

Here are some examples of when launching a product in a different language and culture has failed because of inadequate localisation or a lack of localisation:

  • the toothpaste brand Pepsodent didn’t do enough customer research in India, so when they lanched their product the locals did not buy it because the brand name sounded like “grinning like an idiot”;
  • the haircare brand Clairol tried to launch in China but the Chinese consumer did not like the name because it sounded like “having no hair”.

Successful Localisation Campaigns

Now here are some successful campaigns that proved how useful localisation can be to enter a new market:

  • choosing a name that has no intrinsic meaning and does not sound like a word in any language, such as Lego, which has an international appeal;
  • M&M’s and KitKat created local versions of their product using ingredients that are only or mostly available in specific countries such as China and Japan, such as using green tea to have an instant connection with the customer;
  • car manufacturer Ford Mustang has different types of engines and tyres for the US and European market because of different local regulations.

Then you have streaming services such as Netflix that will adapt their catalogue not only according to the individual preferences of a user but also according to the geographical region, for example making more Korean language programmes available in Korea compared to, say, Spain or Germany.

In summary, having the right localisation strategy can help boost sales, promote engagement, give access to new markets and increase customer satisfaction. Day Translations are the experts in translation and localisation and can support companies to fulfil their global ambitions.