Globally Speaking guest Priscila Mello is a localization professional, lifelong educator and language learner. She joined the show to discuss the importance of language in building strong customer relationships with local audiences.
What is localization?
Having the ability to connect with individuals is critical. It enhances customer experiences and facilitates growth for international businesses.
Enter localization, which is a key tactic for global enterprises to achieve success and better reach their audiences. It builds strong customer relationships in local markets and facilitates communication with people in a way that makes them more receptive to specific messaging. Localization allows communications to take the local culture into account.
Priscila explains the benefits of tailoring business strategies to specific regions in a way that makes local customers feel that content was made for them. It enables brands to convey important messages, while building a better rapport with niche global markets.
How does it work?
Localization helps companies be more considerate of individual cultures. Priscila believes that by adjusting everything from language to colour psychology and imagery, brands can be more accommodating to different regions of the global market.
In short, companies must make a concerted effort to understand as much as possible about their consumer base, so that they can tailor content and better serve them.
Lost in translation
Language is the most important aspect to consider when taking products and content global. There is a common misconception that purely translating content is sufficient, “but language is something that’s mutable, not static,” Priscila asserts. Unfortunately, changing the words alone commonly results in the context getting ‘lost in translation’.
For instance, when KFC first hit the Chinese market in the 1980s, they plastered their tried and true “Finger-Lickin’ Good” slogan all over the country. They later realized that the Chinese version read “Bite Your Fingers Off”. Despite the popularity of their food, it was not the message they were trying to convey.
Priscila explains that getting the meaning of a phrase or sentence right is not always simple, because there will never be a 100% crossover between cultures. However, the intention is for an audience to have the same feeling when reading the content, regardless of language or geography.
While colours are the same across countries, languages and cultures, they can have different interpretations when it comes to meaning and value. This makes understanding the meaning of colour in different regions essential for brands, as it can impact consumer perceptions.
For example, “the colour green is interpreted so very differently across different cultures,” explains Priscila. For most, it relates to prosperity, the environment and wellbeing, but for people in South America, it is associated with death. It is a similar narrative for some other colours in different parts of the world.
Seeing as the colours used in your communications could very well carry bad omens or superstitions, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the target audience and how you want your brand or product to be perceived.
With so much focus on language, it is easy for imagery to slip through the cracks. Brands will often pour resources into perfecting the text, but will forget to give that same level of care to imagery.
Priscila outlines the reasons why brands need to recognize the lifestyles and beliefs of each region when creating the customer experience on an international scale. She highlights the importance of selecting imagery based on the realities of different markets.
For example, companies targeting Saudi Arabia will find themselves at a loss if their imagery contains alcohol, as the country has a ban on all alcoholic beverages, Priscila explains. Campaigns featuring female models will also be immediately censored by the government of Dubai, as the exposure of a woman’s body breaches strict religious and traditional values.
Localization asks that a company assess the market before they penetrate it, not just for the increased likelihood of success for the brand, but also in consideration of that region’s audience and local customs.
Localization: it’s business and it’s personal
Priscila is clear that there are no two ways about it: localization is essential for success in international markets. Companies must do the groundwork to ensure they understand local audiences, then tailor their communications to those needs. Whether it is language, colours or imagery, for a brand to truly localize, every small detail counts. She explains that in her experience, localization can be the difference between success and failure.
Check out Globally Speaking’s 100th episode for the rest of our insightful discussion with Priscila on the impact of localization on customer relationships and finding success in the international market. You can also subscribe to be notified of future episodes.