Are you planning on taking your brand global? If you are, you’d better get ready to put in the research. When 87 percent of non-English speakers aren’t willing to buy from an English website, you’ll need to learn to speak their language. Or rather, your website, app and marketing materials will.
When you start the process of taking your brand global, you’ll first need to know the markets with a greater interest in your products. Check your analytics. Find out where your customers and site visitors are from. Learn about the culture, demographics and demand before you take the plunge.
And get ready to live and breathe the word “localization” for the next few months… and years!
Taking Your Brand Global
Step 1 - Plan for Website Localization From The Start
As with all companies going global, your website is almost certainly your greatest asset. You need your shop window to be perfect in the target language of the country you aim to get business.
You’ll already be familiar with the terms “user experience,” “SEO,” and SERP.” No doubt you’re vigilant about them in your home market. And you’ll need to be equally as invested when taking your brand global.
It doesn’t matter if you only have a small one-man (or woman) band, or a larger outfit. Whether you’re getting your website revamped or launched for the first time, or even if you think you’re only going to sell to a local market… Plan for website localization from the start. It will save you a lot of headaches later on when taking your brand global.
At this early stage, that doesn’t even have to include all the due diligence mentioned above. Researching your target audience, tastes, preferred language (and use of it). Here we’re talking about your website and its coding.
You need to internationalize your website. What does internationalization mean? Internationalization is key in taking your brand global, although this will chiefly lie with your developers.
It’s essentially about the way that your website, app, or software is designed and developed. The coding language used and the practices put in place that will make your product easier to localize into further languages and for different regions.
According to the W3C Group, this includes “enabling the use of Unicode, or ensuring the proper handling of legacy character encodings where appropriate, taking care over the concatenation of strings, avoiding dependence in code of user-interface string values, etc.”
A Word on Unicode
Be sure to hold at least a brief discussion with your developers about Unicode before taking your brand global. It’s vital that they use this for your website, as it’s the global industry standard for working with multiple languages.
Using Unicode will ensure that, no matter how foreign or unusual the character or accent in a new language looks to you; it will be displayed correctly in your materials. Remember that taking your brand global is about appealing to people in different markets with different languages.
Using Unicode will ensure that they all are met with the best possible user experience, with no broken characters or design. Even if it takes you years before taking your brand global, this practice will allow you to think and design with a global audience in mind.
Step 2 – We All Need a Little Space
No one likes their personal space being invaded. Neither do they like to visit a website that makes them feel overwhelmed, or like walking into the house of a hoarder! All designers know about the importance of space in their in designs.
If you overload your site with too many assets and information, you visitor will get a headache and grow confused about the action you want them to take. Then they’ll probably leave, taking their credit card and business with them.
But it’s not only imperative to provide your visitors with a space that lets them breathe and feel relaxed enough to stick around. It’s also key when taking your brand global.
There are some markets, like China, that are used to busy designs, and what western tastes may see as cultured. But the majority of your visitors will welcome the breather.
Not only that, but when you come to localize your website into different languages, you’ll start to appreciate the complexities and characteristics of syntax and grammar. And just how hard it is to get your website design to accommodate them!
Take Spanish, Italian, German, and French. They all require around 25 percent more space than English. They can even make a sentence as much as 30 percent longer! Get ready to be flexible when taking your brand global.
This can really wreak havoc in your website if you’re working with a constrained design overloaded with information. That’s before you get into languages like Arabic, that read from right to left (RTL), or Asian languages that are displayed vertically.
Leaving space in your website in key. It’s also something very simple that can be planned for in the earliest stages of taking your brand global.
Related Post: Why Localization is Vital in Global Marketing
Step 3 – A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words
If you’ve ever traveled overseas (or even interstate) or watched TV shows set in a foreign land, you’ll know about the different types of images and art popular in different places.
Just think about an Indian wedding. Vibrant colors, painted hands and faces; very different from a white dress western affair. Images and colors have different meanings around the world. They speak a thousand words and you’ll need to get them right.
When taking your brand global, the images you use in your marketing materials and promotions are key. So, be sure to use images that are culturally appropriate for your audience.
An image of blond holidaymakers on a beach may inspire your U.S. or UK public to click “book now.” But they may provoke a medium to negative response in an Asian market who can’t see themselves in the picture. And they may offend a Middle Eastern public not used to seeing flesh displayed in public.
Colors can be lucky or unlucky, depending on culture, and icons and gestures have different meanings. White is the color of mourning in India, and Iran, it’s blue. The famous Facebook “thumbs up” sign is also highly offensive in some corners of the world.
If you’re working with a limited budget, the best thing to do is to keep your images to a minimum. You’ll avoid paying stock image sites, and manually assessing and switching pictures out. And you’ll also keep any potential problems at bay.
Be careful with your use of infographics and images with text in. You’ll have to extract the text and that will add cost to your translator rates. You may also have limited characters to work with, and changing languages will likely make the text go outside of the images. Not a good look.
Step 4 – It’s All in a Name
Before you launch headlong into taking your brand global, you need to take a long, hard look at your brand. Specifically, your brand name. The type of name you have will define the need to get it translated (or not) when you go overseas.
If your brand name is invented, such as Skype or Pepsi, taking your brand global as it is may not be an issue. Although, you’ll need to make sure your name doesn’t have a different meaning in another country, or sound like a word you would rather not be associated with.
Even the big players crash into hurdles entering new markets. So, be sure to consult with locals on the ground before blundering in. Coca-Cola’s brand name translated to “Bite the Wax Tadpole” in Chinese. Definitely not an inspiring name for a refreshing drink!
If your brand name is generic, like Free Credit Report, or Your Best Diet, you may need to translate that to ensure it resonates with different markets. Remember that keywords are essential for new customers to find you.
If French people are looking to lose weight, or Germans want to find out their credit score, they won’t be searching for these words in English.
Related Post: 7 Top Localization Errors And How to Avoid Them
Step 5 – Be Obsessed with Your User Experience
90 percent of apps are deleted within 30 days and only a small handful of people will ever download them again. 40 percent of users will give up and abandon a website if it takes too long to load (more than three seconds).
Your website needs to be running fast and loading sprightly. Your app needs to provide a user experience that is logical and pleasant. In both cases, when taking your brand global, this means focusing on the details.
You need to ensure that your materials are flawlessly translated and localized for your audience. All screen shots, images, vocabulary, weights, dates, times, and so on. Everything needs to be bundled up into a package that feels original; not a stilted translated version of the original.
No broken forms, no shopping cart issues, no partially translated text, and not too much clutter. Focus on user experience in every market you enter. Optimize your website for speed and pay attention to the small details. Taking your brand global will only be a success if you place yourself in your users’ shoes.
An optimal user experience leads to greater conversions and more time spent on your site, more downloads, and better reviews. Which leads to a rise in your SERP ranking and brownie points from search engines. So, get obsessed when taking your brand global!
Step 6 - Be Available
So, you’re finally taking your brand global? You’ve figured out the market, internationalized your website and checked your brand name and user experience. Great! You’re ready to launch. But, did you spare a thought for your customer service?
If you’re going to start selling your products in the UAE but you’re based in San Francisco, you’ll need to provide local support. You don’t have to establish an office on the ground everywhere you go. But you do need someone who can answer the phones, appear on a chat online, or reply to an email without a full working day going by.
At Day Translations, we respond to quotes within 10 minutes wherever customers are in the world. We know that if we don’t, they will simply choose another provider that does.
There are local businesses who your customers will naturally have a tendency for and other international players on the scene. When taking your brand global, you need to beat them all. And you can do that by being available when your customers need you.
Step 7 - Test like It’s Going out Of Style
There are many companies who have failed miserably at global marketing. Don’t be one of them. Don’t join the halls of shame along like likes of Ikea, KFC and Gerber. Taking your brand global is potentially the most important move your company will ever make.
So, test like it’s going out of style! Apply linguistic testing to ensure that your message sounds just right. Then localization testing, to make sure the user experience is debugged and compatible on all devices and OS.
Just one wrong character in a line of code and throw your site design out. Just as one typo in your source content can cause a chain reaction and holy mess throughout the localized versions.
Pilot your project out. Gauge people’s reactions, ask for feedback. Test the waters. And once you’ve complied a conclusive set of results. Test again! Many tools work well for measuring user response.
Try out hotjar or heatmap for real time analytics. You can assess what parts of your site are working and the areas generating negative or low interaction. Sometimes rewording a CTA or changing a color can have a huge effect on conversions and CTR.
Don’t feel too pressured or restricted by the deadlines you set yourself. If your product isn’t ready on time, make sure it’s perfect when it’s ready. Rather than risk launching something you’ll regret later.
Taking your brand global is a mammoth and ongoing project. So, take it step by step. Make sure you’ve covered all the details and examined the problem from every angle. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts tenfold.