Content localisation is defined as “the process of making something local in character or restricting it to a particular place.” Usually, localisation is talked about in the context of different markets or languages. While this is not wrong, it often ignores the full scope of what the term really means.
SO WHAT DOES CONTENT LOCALISATION MEAN?
Localisation is not just about translating text into another language, or exchanging images to make it look “local”, or changing certain keywords to make your content more searchable in different countries.
Localisation means relevancy. So the question brands need to ask themselves is: How is my business / offering /content relevant to a particular audience?
Content localisation doesn’t just apply for different countries, but it also applies when you are targeting different audiences in the same market. A brand’s product may be of interest to both young millennials and baby boomers, but not in the same way.
SAME PRODUCT, DIFFERENT BRANDING
For example, a Volvo car in Malaysia appeals to millennials in a different way from the older generation. They like the brand for different reasons, and as a result, Volvo would market and localise its brand differently to these two audiences.
Brands can also be perceived differently across borders. Keeping to the same theme of car brands, Volkswagen is considered a premium car brand in Southeast Asia, but in Europe, it has a somewhat ordinary positioning as the “people’s car”.
So here comes the next question: is it great content localisation if a low-quality beer from Germany is sold in Southeast Asia as a top-shelf premium import brew? We would say: yes (although slightly misleading in this case). After all, the positioning of a brand changes with different audiences and markets depending on what else there is.
Another factor companies must consider when localising a product is the cultural sensitivities of each market. For instance, popular fast food chain McDonald’s does not sell pork items in Malaysia in deference to Muslim beliefs. The same goes to McDonald’s in India, who does not serve any beef products in deference to Hindu beliefs.
Let’s remember that localisation isn’t just changing imagery and translating social media copy – it’s about branding and positioning, finding a new audience, understanding the cultural sensitivities, and discovering a different value product.
For Volvo, it was finding a way to appeal to a younger audience. For the German beer, it’s insinuating that a beverage imported from a country renowned for beer is a more informed, more high-quality choice than what is available locally. For McDonald’s, it is tailoring a menu that is suited to the tastes of the local country.
WHAT CAN CONTENT LOCALISATION LOOK LIKE?
- Adapting your visuals to resemble your target audience
- Using the right tone of voice and language that will speak to and resonate with a particular audience
- Be aware of cultural and political sensitivities across customer segments, generations and markets
- Create a flexible content strategy, instead of following a yes-or-no, black-or-white, brand strategy. Remember what is true for your brand in one market, or with a certain customer segment, may not be universally true. Rolling out a localised version of a global brand campaign is not an oxymoron.
WHAT’S THE ‘LOCAL’ CHANNEL?
The localisation of your content extends to considering which channel it will be published on. While Facebook and Instagram enjoy great popularity in Southeast Asia and across different demographics, other markets may also have other more popular channels.
For example, if you are planning to venture into South Korea, you’ll want to be on KakaoTalk, on WeChat in China, or on Line in Japan. Crossing borders doesn’t just require translations – brands also need to adapt their content to each new channel.
The same applies for different target audiences. While young millennials and Gen Zs may scroll through the TikTok and post on SnapChat, older millennials and Gen X tend to dig through Reddit to consume content.
Finding the right channel for your message is important. So do your homework and find out where your audience plays online.
HERE IS YOUR CONTENT LOCALISATION CHECKLIST:
- Market Research: Find out as much as you about your new market and audiences. Is there a need for your brand? What are consumers looking for?
- Brand Research: Who are your competitors? What’s their positioning? How does your brand fit in the market
- Cultural Considerations: What sensitive topics should you avoid? What major events and trends can you leverage?
- Content: Revise your text, images, videos, reports and more. Translate, transcreate, adapt and curate new content.
- Audiences: Find new audiences that you may have not considered previously. Test and learn about who you are talking to.
- Measure: That’s the only way to find out what actually works. Make sure you measure your activities and campaign.
If you want to talk about how to upgrade your content to cross borders or find new audiences, send us a message to email@example.com.