Multilingual content can give companies the edge when trying to penetrate global markets.
Firms will typically be familiar with the requirements of a successful launch in their own country, or another region with a similar culture, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that these same methods will be successful everywhere.
With Asia playing an increasingly important role online – Japan, Indonesia and India are in the top six countries in terms of Twitter accounts, while a significant number of Pinterest and Instagram visitors emanate from Singapore and Hong Kong – it’s an area of the world companies cannot afford to ignore.
This is why multilingual campaigns need to be planned methodically so companies deliver consistent brand messaging regardless of which language or country they are viewed in.
Here are some top tips for creating the perfect multilingual campaign.
The right image and slogan will transcend borders
The best brands are instantly recognizable all over the world. A strong logo and slogan has the ability to transcend borders and allow a firm to stand out from the competition. Best of all, a truly compelling logo will require no translation (just think of Coca-Cola, Apple or Nike), and will allow companies to control the discussion around their own image. Logo’s can also inspire strong emotions, such as people who wear Levi’s jeans because they like to be seen with the red tab sticking out of their 501s. This means business owners should be thinking long and hard about their logos, as it could just be the difference between success and failure in the global marketplace.
Localizing content from scratch can be a time consuming and expensive ordeal. However, brands can get a head start by developing their products with an international audience in mind. Internationalization facilitates the easy adaptation of content for wider audiences. If content is already ‘internationally-ready’, the process of localizing in a variety of global markets is relatively straightforward. However, this has to take place in the early stages and involves extensive planning and preparation. For example, allowing for enough white space in and around illustrations in your user manuals means that you will be less likely to encounter text expansion issues when localizing into other languages (note that most languages expand significantly from English). Likewise, enabling support of global variations of date, time, address, phone number and worldwide currencies, in addition to support of double-byte and bi-directional language scripts will stand you in good stead for future expansion.
Adapt to local markets
It goes without saying that businesses need to develop an in-depth understanding of the markets they are going to target. If a certain country’s residents are found to respond better to videos, more of the marketing budget should be apportioned to creating branded videos. McDonalds has shown a willingness to alter its menu based around the culture of different nations. In India, a Hindu country, there is no beef on the menu, while a delicacy in its Russian franchises is cabbage pie, while burgers are offered with Tobasco sauce in Mexico. This demonstrates how businesses need to be willing to move away from their central business/marketing plan depending on the market they are operating in.
Think about how technology can help
Research by Search Laboratory found 81 per cent of firms think it’s important to have a locally registered internet domain in each of their overseas markets. However, the group pointed out a subdirectory could actually be the “difference between the success and failure of your multilingual expansion”. By choosing this option, the localized subdirectory can benefit from the site’s overall SEO value and it still gets to remain a part of a much larger, centralized website. It can be particularly useful for retailers, as this option means they can get automated updates about all markets via a centralized dashboard.
Use social media
Social media is now the primary method of communication for the majority of people, especially younger audiences. If brands don’t have a presence online through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+, they are unlikely to succeed. As well as being an excellent channel for customer service, it provides companies with the perfect platform to engage with their audience. Setting up social media profiles in the main languages you want/need to interact with is a good start, while firms should also think about drawing up social media guidelines for using the channels in various languages just as they do for their primary corporate social media accounts.