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Localization – Why it is vital to get it right

Localization – Why it is Vital to Get it Right

Localization – Why it is vital to get it rightIt is hard to believe that some of the world’s best known brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Panasonic have made huge marketing blunders as a result of poor research and incorrect localization.

According to Mike Fromowitz, president of a top marketing and branding agency, many international companies have failed to market their brands effectively due to a lack of understanding cultural differences. The results are irrelevant marketing and confusing messages. Making sense to your target audience is key when taking your brand to another culture. One example is Kentucky Fried Chicken with their famous tag line “finger-lickin’ good” which became “eat your fingers off” in their Chinese promotion.

While most cultural blunders will make you laugh, the bottom line is that these campaigns cost many thousands of dollars and for some, caused outrage and anger among the target audience. How your message is conveyed is important as well. Look at the case of Fiat, who promoted their brand using the actor Richard Gere in an advertisement which showed him driving a Lancia Delta from Hollywood to Tibet. While in some markets Richard Gere may be a popular actor, he is not popular with the Chinese due to his support for the Dalai Lama. The Chinese reacted by saying that they would never buy the Fiat brand.

Though these incidents were embarrassing and cost a great deal of money; these global giants had the resources to bear the loss and re-market the product in order to put things right. Even if meant, in the case of Kentucky Fried Chicken, closing the branch altogether. Other smaller brands and start-ups might not be so lucky and one marketing blunder could mean the end of a global business venture.

Localization is one of the most important aspects of a global marketing campaign because it ensures that marketing campaigns are relevant to the target audience and it covers a myriad of topics.

First you need someone to do in- depth research about the country where the campaign will take place. That should not only encompass language variations, but cultural differences. In her blog about cultural differences between Americans and the Chinese, Mary O’Hara Devereaux lists some contrasts between the two cultures and provides an overview of the cultural divide.
Both countries are work driven, ambitious and powerful, however they do not approach business same way. Therefore it is vital that both countries understand, accept and in some instances embrace, the cultural differences between them.

A campaign that has been well researched, engages with the target audience and shows knowledge of the country and culture will stand a greater chance of success, than one that is merely translated from the source to the target language.

For instance, a marketing campaign in America should never be translated word for word into another language and then launched with the same photographs, brand names and phrases. It just will not work.

First the translation should be completed by an expert who understands the culture and the language. This professional will be able to change any words or phrases which have different meanings, into words or phrases that will not cause insult and have a cultural significance. This is called transcreation.

Secondly, the brand name needs to be researched and checked for other meanings. If it has been changed from the original, care should be taken to ensure the new name does not have a different colloquial significance or is a name that will cause confusion or offense.

Any photographs should reflect the community of the target audience, so that if the campaign is in China, the photograph shows Asian people.

Colors on flyers, websites and advertising materials need to be considered. For example in Europe and America white is the color of purity and is associated with cleanliness and freshness; while in China, it is the color of mourning. It signifies death and treachery. You might not believe that superstition belongs in the corporate world, but you might be doing business with someone who does.

In order to make your marketing campaign a success, use a professional translation and localization agency, which will ensure that the language of the campaign will engage, delight and convert readers into customers. Do your homework and you will be saving yourself a lot of wasted time, effort, money and the good reputation of your company.

Terralingua is a professional localization agency who can assist your company with effective global communication. We have worked with many of the world’s top brands. Please visit our website for further information.

Expand Your Reach with Software Localization

Expand Your Reach with Software LocalizationGlobalization has made the world a smaller place. Now, it is possible to manufacture a product in the eastern nations of Asia, and sell them on the western coast of Europe, all in a matter of days. As such, the need for having a global presence of your business has increased and is a must if you want your product or service to be successful on a global scale. Software localization becomes an essential component in this regard.

What is software localization?

Software localization involves the process of localizing or adapting any software to the technical, cultural, and linguistic requirements of various target markets. This is a labor intensive process and usually needs substantial time and effort from the developers.

Software localization is quite different from translation. It involves the process of translating and adapting a web product or software, and every other documentation related to the product. Translation barely translates the document without any reference to the local cultural and linguistic traditions. Software localization often runs parallel to the source product development and enables the manufacturer to simultaneously ship the product in different language versions. For instance, software strings translation may generally begin even when the product is going through the beta phase. Translation is simply one of the steps in the software localization process; completing this step doesn’t mean the product is ready for the market yet.

Tips for localizing your software

Many organizations are now actively seeking localization of their software offerings for different markets throughout the world. In this endeavor, many attempts on software localization are met with frustration after the software has been developed. The fonts may not be exact, the text may be garbled, and the encoding might be off, sentences may not come in an aesthetic format, or the overall design may not look as expected. The tips given below will guide you to successfully localize your software for specific markets.

Plan in advance: Proper scheduling must be done for localizing your software for different markets. Most companies tend to rush localization just before the actual software release, which compromises on the quality of the localization.

Test the software: Localized software should go through the same rigorous testing as the original product. The awareness resulting from looking at a different language “in context” inside your product is irreplaceable.

Leave sufficient space for expansion of text in foreign language: There are many languages which, on average, take up 30% more space than English. In case you have designed a software where English text just about fits in the space, it is likely you will face problems later on. As such, leave sufficient space when designing your product for compensations later on.

Localization-friendly string encoding: Wherever possible, you should source software resources or string tables in Unicode/UTF-8 format. This avoids garbled text, debugging, and unnecessary conversion steps.

Remove hard-coded strings through “pseudo localization”: In temporary branches, you can use general expression to take the place of all letters inside the text, with one repeated text like “XXXX”. Create the product, and all hard-coded text will throw up on the screen, showing IDs which aren’t given in string tables.

Avoid overusing single strings and concatenation: The structure of a sentence in English may not be followed in some other language. Strings used in different contexts, and concatenated strings will have gender and grammar agreement issues. Be generous with memory while localizing your software.

Overall, software localization has become an important step in the process of adapting your product for specific markets, and can potentially decide the success of your product in those markets. As such, you should make sure to perform localization in the best possible manner.

Best Practices for Software Localization

Best Practices for Software LocalizationSoftware localization – where your software is customized to suit a specific language or region – is a great way of expanding your business. But if you are not prepared, it may cause many hassles such as garbled text, wrong encoding, and crashes. All these frustrations may be avoided if you prepare well for the localization.

Plan In Advance

More often than not, the reason software applications fall apart at attempts on localization is because the application was not conceptualized with localization in mind. As a result, there were no provisions created for language change or other modifications required for localization. Planning in advance can prevent this.

Design your software with provisions for localization like character support for different languages, so that the grammar of these languages can also be incorporated. Along with content localization, you should also focus on testing localization so that your software localization is more effective. Build a detailed testing plan in English and use the same plan in the localized tests also.

Remember that the feel of your software should be like the locally built software for native users. They should be able to use it without feeling like it was built by someone unfamiliar with their culture. Planning ahead will ensure that your software has this local feel.

Leave Provision for Text Expansion

Languages other than English have a more extended character set, so just using English standards will not be enough if you want to make truly localized software. Using UTF-8 standards always is the best practice for software localization. This prevents extra conversion and garbling of text. Keeping provision for dynamic expansion of UI is also a good practice.

Never use hard coded strings, especially for date and time formats. This is because different countries use different date and time formats. Same goes with currency. Naming conventions may also be different for different countries. Some write the given name before the family name, and some the opposite. Some cultures even have just one name for a person.

Grammar varies from language to language. “Red pencil” in English translates to “crayon rouge” in French. So if you are thinking of concatenating strings, it will not work out for software localization. Keep in mind, no string should ever be overused.

Other Considerations

The GUI and other aspects of the software will be translated by professional translators, and not by your engineers. So if you make the context and the meanings of the translatable parts clear to them through comments, they will be able to do it more easily. Furthermore, they will be consistent with the context right from the beginning to the end of the translation.

Make sure that the translation company you choose is an experienced and expert one, so that they can help with the translation of your software as well as help in documentation and at the same time maintain consistency between the two.

Always remember changing the language does not fully localize the software unless you use the full locale for that region. For example, if the software is supposed to be in English, it can be used in the America or in Britain, but then the spelling and naming conventions would change for software localization, even though the language remains the same (color vs. colour, or elevator vs. lift). Internalization support is also important in your software. It will allow the native formats for currency, date, and time for individual regions to be shown in a way familiar to the region-specific users.

As is evident from this article, software localization is never complete unless it is aligned to the local customs, conventions, and culture of the region it is being localized for. While planning and designing your software, keep provisions for not only language support, but also for other region-specific local conventions to avoid last minute worries.

Standardization and Localization in Emerging Markets

Standardization and Localization in Emerging MarketsAs emerging markets continue to grow at exponential levels, it is expected that over half the global growth by 2025 will be derived from new markets in developing countries. The emerging economies, which have historically been seen as low-cost production bases, have now become the sought-after customers. With most of the world’s population living in developing economies, it has become imperative for firms to get a foothold in these markets to ensure consistent growth and profit.

Building customer and supplier bases in emerging economies does not work with the one-size-fits-all strategy that was used in the past. Every individual market presents new challenges and opportunities based on the microeconomic and macroeconomic scenarios, logistics, and demographic realities. In order to be successful, firms should start paying close attention to emerging markets and build their strategies around these specific countries.

Emerging Markets and Localization

For decades, large organizations have put emphasis on standardization of services, rather than localizing their services. Companies have applied the same tried and trusted formulas, merchandise mixes, and marketing and operating processes, and have implemented these formulas internationally. They demand consistency from the suppliers, and they push the standardization techniques deep into the mindset of the consumer market.

But standardization is slowly seeing its end. Consumers are growing more and more diverse, whether in values, lifestyle, wealth, or ethnicity. There are many regions that have been flooded with chain outlets, and slowly consumers are developing a preference for the unique characteristics of local products, against the standardized products offered to them. Emerging markets are challenging the one-size-fits-all theory, and in response, organizations are localizing their products and services to customize them according to each local market. In essence, companies are moving toward localization, and away from the age-old practice of standardization.

The biggest benefit of going from standardization to localization is strategic. Standardization restricts experimentation and is easy to copy. Localization, on the other hand, makes it difficult for competition to track the changes, let alone copy them. If done well, localization offers lasting competitive advantage for manufacturers and retailers alike, and so you should choose the services of a translation company that is based in the region you want to operate in.

Reinventing Your Firm

Though standardization has been effective in the past, it is losing its attractiveness now. As customers become more diverse, their lifestyles have changed as well, and these changes have been followed by new demands.

Diversity is not the only factor affecting standardization. As more and more commercial chains come up, natural space restrictions and other requirements have also increased. The prime locations now are fiercely guarded against international firms that do not have localized operations. Building more branches of the same organization as a market strategy has become an exhausted practice.

Finally, standardization can harm brand images by forcing practices and products into a mold. The resulting homogenization undermines innovation, even throughout supply chains. The managers at these firms stamp out any exception, when trying to meet targets. This leads to an environment where there is no room for innovation, and therefore to new processes, services, or products. Standardization ultimately leads toward commoditization, and low profitability and growth.

Technological advances over the years have made it possible for manufacturers to delve deep into buying behaviors and local preferences of consumers. Any mismatch between demand and supply can be located immediately. New information is making it possible to localize service, products, and even stores with high precision.

Even though emerging markets share a lot of similar characteristics, each region is distinct and should be approached accordingly. Microeconomic and macroeconomic, operational, cultural, and strategic challenges have to be overcome to sell your offering effectively in any emerging market. Hiring a translation company in emerging markets can be a huge asset for any business in the long run.

Optimizing Website Localization

Optimizing Website LocalizationSuccessful development of a brand and international market access are presently carried out through websites. Websites represent companies, their online brand image, and they also act as trading platforms. These are some of the reasons why companies need an online presence, and why translated websites are vital to access markets in foreign countries. A comprehensive website for foreign audiences is required for successful appearance in markets abroad, and for a profitable presentation of the organization, as a reliable goods and services vendor. You can also choose a translation company for localization. Some ways to best utilize website localization are discussed below.

Localization of images

Images on your website should be culturally sensitive and appropriate for the target audience. Doing this, can boost your organization’s power to connect well with visitors, and also foster healthy and long relationships with the audiences. Images hold different meanings for people in different regions. Knowing how the audience perceives an image is necessary to maximize the effect of the image and to ensure that it does not affect their sensitivity. When trying to build trust and earn loyalty, images can make a world of difference. You can consider the following when localizing your company’s site:

Details: Mistaking Mexican and Italian flags, for instance, is bad for business.
Sensitivity: People show strong inclinations for things like metaphors, symbols, or colors. So, your site should carefully use these things in different places.
Risk assessment: Try to avoid unintended consequences, which can possibly be hazardous or embarrassing for the company.

Adjust and adapt

Websites are not universal in nature. People around the world do things differently, and so your company should be able to adjust and adapt to the global market. For instance, a Japanese website generally displays a lot of text, animations, images, colors, and scrolling layouts, while this may be irritating for viewers in other countries. The design and style of a correctly localized site has to be consistent with all the local norms so that the site is usable, and looks familiar to the target audience.

Language combinations

You do not have to completely localize a website for different regions. Blurring the language lines can positively affect the website’s representation more than translating all the full content. Localization is not simply about translating content, but it involves a complex process of modifying content to make it locally relevant. Keep the following points in mind while changing the language component in your website.

Length: Lines written in one language may be bigger or smaller when translated. So, keep it simple and choose the most effective one.
Emphasis: Content in foreign language looks appealing to the target audience. So, a foreign language can be a good aspect when trying to make your webpage user-friendly.
Universal appeal: Translating few texts to an exotic language can improve the international appeal of your site.

Finally, if done in moderation, then mixing languages can greatly help your website in gaining the attention of the target audience.

Is full translation of a website required?

Any organization’s tagline or slogan is among its most valued branding assets. People tend to remember memorable phrases in company names. It is not easy to brand yourself in the minds of all customers, and this becomes especially true in the case of crossing language barriers. You can follow the points given below to keep the company’s brand identity memorable.

Identity: Being consistent helps in maintaining the organization’s image.
Nuances: Worldviews, belief systems, and culture systems shape how people think about words.
Target customers: You should know who your target audience is. A phrase that is funny in one language may be offensive in another.

Target your localization towards the visitors of the particular region. You do not need to translate everything, if you can capture the essence of your message in a well-structured line, in the target audience’s native language. A well thought localized tagline or slogan for your organization could act as an effective means of fostering relationships with future customers, in diverse markets. Hire the services of a translation company to best utilize your website to reach varied audiences. Please access our Website to learn about the localization services Terralíngua can offer.

Six Important Software Localization Guidelines

Six Important Software Localization GuidelinesImagine a scenario where you have translated your software into a number of different languages. You have announced the release date also. And then, you may suddenly realize that you have made the software available in most languages, but have not really tested them in all. The fact that you do not know if the software actually runs in a particular language can lead to panic. To avoid stressful situations like this, here are some rules that you can follow.

Convert User Strings into Resource Files

When you have a string that is visible to the user, make sure that you convert it into resource files. Examples of user visible strings are error messages, product names, titles, image strings, etc. When you add these strings in resource files, you can easily translate them. Most translators specify values to different translated strings. When a user selects a particular language, the software matches it with the translator value you have assigned and text in the corresponding language is displayed.

Avoid String Concatenation

Concatenation bug is one of the most common bugs that localization experts have to deal with on a regular basis. Take the example of a shopping site that allows you to buy t-shirts. The shirts available on the site could be of different colors. When you write the translator code for, let’s say French, you would use the commonly used French term for shirt and just append the translated version of the color that the user picks. But for French, this kind of translation does not work. French uses modifiers before some words and don’t use it for others and ignoring this aspect will result in wrong translation. So, the best way to avoid this bug is by completely avoiding string concatenation.

Include Punctuation Marks in Resource Strings Only

Punctuation marks also work like concatenations, except that punctuation rules differ from language to language. So, you cannot let punctuation marks be as they are and just translate the words. The best way to deal with this is to put all the punctuation marks into the resource strings. This way, you can add the relevant punctuation marks wherever necessary according to the translated text, without any grammatical errors.

Be Careful With First Names

In North America, people tend to use the last name more regularly. In some eastern countries, predominantly Asian, some people will have only one name. You cannot figure out if it’s the first or last. Obviously, the direct translation algorithm will mess this up and the blunders can be frankly embarrassing. The errors will be in the prefix to the name. To avoid this, make sure to add a gender tag to the name so that you have a comparative parameter while translating the string and add the right prefix.

Make Provision for Extension and Compression of Strings

When the user interface is designed, sentences will have a specific number of characters. But the problem in translation is that some words that are short in one language are long in another. The best way to deal with this issue is not to have any limitation in characters in the layout. You can just allow the text to orient itself in the space available. Just ensure that there is enough space for the strings to grow or shrink.

Stick to UTF-8 Character Encoding

Another issue that you are going to face with translated text is character encoding. There is the UTF-16 standard that you will be tempted to use. But keep in mind that UTF-8 is ideal for all your needs. Make sure you invoke the encoding at the top of your page to avoid any confusion and ensure that the standard is maintained throughout. Make sure you maintain this uniformity across all UI pages’ code.

Challenges of Software Localization

Challenges of Software LocalizationSoftware development is a constant necessity and a booming business in today’s IT world. There are a number of companies that produce high quality software. To ensure the global reach of the software that they produce, developers make it available in multiple languages. While this is a logical move by the company, there are a number of hurdles that the developers have to overcome. The basic source code will remain the same, but the user interface (UI) designers will have to work with the translation team to ensure that the software is effectively localized. Here are a few solutions to the challenges that the developers would face while localizing the software.

Localization Should Begin When the Coding Starts

If you are familiar with the software development cycle, you are aware of the fact that the user interface (UI) design is finalized before the coding part actually begins. So, the team responsible for the development of UI will already have started working even before the source code work starts. As a result, the UI team will have to work with the translation team to ensure that the UI is effectively localized. For each region, a separate UI is designed and coded. The basic design and layout remains the same. Only the text in the UI will be made available in the regional languages.

All Editions Should Be Rolled Out Simultaneously

One of the secrets of successful software is its simultaneous global release. When you release software on a global scale, your competitors have fewer chances of getting the jump on you to release their products. As a result, translators also have to work on a tight schedule to ensure that the localized UIs are ready for a global release. This is not an easy task especially if the localization is handled by a single company. They will have to work on tight deadlines and ensure that the quality is of the highest order.

Help File and Legal Documents Translation

One of the biggest challenges that a localization team will face while working with software localization is its technical documents. Localization experts are well versed in languages but they are not aware of the minor technical details which are crucial for a technical manual or a help file that is provided with the software. So, the translators will have to work with the technical team to ensure that they get all the minor details spot-on.

The same is true for legal documents. Without being aware of the legal ramifications, a translator might use terms that are considered legally wrong. To avoid this, translators should closely co-ordinate with the legal team to translate the legal documents accurately without any discrepancies.

Although the aforementioned activities are fairly simple and straightforward, they consume a lot of time. Also, quality is something that cannot be compromised on while localizing software.

Updated Content

When an update or a patch to the software is released, the developer team must ensure that the UI patches, if any, should be localized. The localization team will again have to work with the developers to get the terms in question right. If any content in the help file or the software content has to be updated, the relevant patches should be localized before they are released.

Cultural Barriers

There are certain cultural barriers that the localization team should be aware of while working on localizing particular software. For example, the usage of specific terms might be culturally inappropriate in some parts of the world, although it is accurate on a grammatical basis. Similarly, these small cultural details should be at the back of the localizing experts while they are working on software localization.

What You Should Know About Localization of Your Website

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When you cater to a wide audience scattered in different regions of the world, having a generic website alone may not be a good idea. A generic website may be in English, but not all your customers in all regions would be comfortable with the language. So to make sure your message reaches the intended people, and creates an impact too, it is important to consider localization of website.

What is website localization?

Localization of a website refers to the process of modifying the website elements to make it usable, accessible and socially acceptable to a certain section of people. Considering that around 90% of the people in the world are not native English speakers, and are more comfortable accessing information in their own language, Software Localization and translation of the web content to meet your target audience’s needs is more than important.

Website localization and translation become all the more important if your company is looking to expand its market in different countries. This is where a reputed translation agency can help you.

The process of localization

The process of localizing your company’s websites includes analysis, translation of content, using appropriate images, adjusting the layout and navigation etc.

Content translation

This is one of the main steps involved in localization of a website. The best way to deal with this is to look for a professional translation company that offers linguistic quality assurance. Whether you translate English into Spanish or any other language, the content should be meaningful and culturally correct.

Use appropriate images

What is accepted in one culture may not be accepted in another. So, it is necessary to check the suitability of the images you have on your website, when you are localizing your site for a particular region.

Navigation and layout

The navigation and layout of the site should also be considered when you localize it. Placement of content, images and navigation options from left to right, top to bottom etc. should be adjusted as per the culture and habits of the audience you are catering to.

Symbols and colors

Currency symbols, numbers and other icons like houses, vehicles etc. should be adjusted considering the culture. For example, symbols that are accepted in the west may not be taken well in the Middle East, or the Far East. The colors you use on your webpages should also be adjusted. While the colors you choose may or may not make a huge difference, choosing the ideal colors, depending on how they are perceived in the region, can make your message clearer.

Once the site is ready, you also need to test it for usability. The best way to go about it is to hire a professional company that offers comprehensive website localization services. Please visit our website if you would like to know more about the services that Terralíngua can offer to cover your localization and translation needs.