McDonald's Masters Localization Efforts

Global Trends5 March 20142.5k

The pursuit of becoming a household name is at the forefront of most global brand agendas. Central to this is the ability to interact with a range of different target audiences and cultures in a way that leaves no one group feeling left out or worse still, offended. People appreciate the personal touch, they want to be made to feel special, so it is up to global brands to step up and deliver.

Advertising solely in English is not an option for any company with worldwide aspirations. With three-quarters of the planet's population not speaking English, and 56.2 percent admitting that access to information in their native language is more important than price, it's clear brands need to be localizing their content. 

McDonald's leads the way 

Fast food chain McDonald's uses targeted website localization initiatives in order to develop better relationships with its customers. This is not a big surprise as the company does business in 118 countries. 

McDonald's recognizes the need to slightly alter its image and content depending on the location it is targeting, For example, references to American football on its US website are changed to soccer in Brazil, as this sport is much more popular, Business 2 Community reports. 

Country-specific websites also differ in layout, style and tone. While the US portal is more laid back and less formal in its organization, the Pakistani site is more straightforward and streamlined.

Its menu also changes throughout the world. In India, there is no beef on the menu as it is a Hindu country, while cabbage pie features in Russia due to its status as a local delicacy. 

It's not all plain sailing

However, firms can never afford to take their eye off the ball, as they are only ever one mistake away from embarrassment. 

In an effort to appeal to the ethnic Hmong community in Minnesota, the fast food chain accidently ran billboards that were supposed to read 'Coffee gets you up, breakfast gets you going', but actually said 'Yuavtxhawbpabraukojsawv yuavntxivzograukoj mus' (the Latin character equivalent).

This demonstrates how important it is, not only to assign the very best linguists to projects, but also how crucial it is to always send products for proofing (document localization), and linguistic testing (in the case of websites, software and multimedia localization) prior to their release!

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