There is one key reason why you should hire professionals to ensure effective localization for your new business venture abroad: they are experts and therefore much less likely to make mistakes which can jeopardize your project.
However, even professionals aren’t perfect, so it is important that you inspect their work very carefully to make sure it is 100% free of any such mistakes. Of course, localization mistakes are not only the ones which the translation agency you hire might make: this is why it is wise to always have a clear idea of your needs and priorities when choosing that company.
Be vigilant: 5 localization mistakes that can ruin your business abroad
1. Not hiring legal experts for legal translations
Localization of a business isn’t only about translating your product instructions and marketing materials. You will also need to deal with multiple legal documents (either in MS Word files or PDF documents) when establishing a new business abroad. These will require notarized translations.
Legal translations are extremely complex and sensitive. It is imperative that the translation company that you hire has experience not only in localization, but in translating legal documents in particular. Be sure to ask for examples of their previous work so that you can assess the quality for yourself. You also should have a legal expert look over the document when it is translated to ensure that no important details have been ‘lost in translation’.
2. Aiming for slang and missing badly
As you can see from the most infamous examples of localization mistakes, trying to translate slang directly never ends well. Trying to use similar-sounding words from the target language ends even worse. That was how KFC’s “fingerlickin’ good!” turned into “eat your fingers off!” in Chinese.
In translation for marketing, tone is everything. If your brand relies upon slang in marketing, you definitely need to create original content in the language of the country that you are expanding to. Be sure to add your requirement for friendly, informal language peppered with slang words when placing an order with the local content writers.
3. Not making a cultural adjustment in your educational materials
When you create educational materials, be they product instructions or how-to blog posts with tips, you will anticipate a certain level of basic knowledge and understanding from your audience. However, those basic levels and preconceptions can be completely different in your target country. For example, an American will hardly specify that their country uses right-hand traffic in a post with directions. Therefore, a person from a country with left-hand traffic will make a mistake or get confused if this isn’t fixed during the localization.
Many cultural differences are far more subtle. Thus, you should change your entire approach to writing articles that teach something. Try to create ‘neutral’ educational marketing content and then enhance it by adding a few location-specific details. This will prove the most cost-efficient option.
4. Cross-cultural miscommunication
Another major localization mistake has to do with a lack of understanding of and respect for cultural differences. These are the kind of differences that are rather subtle, for example, hand gestures of models in your ads or even the tone of your marketing taglines. Think of a V-sign facing inwards. In the US, it means ‘two’ when asking a bartender for a refill of your beer glass, or ‘peace’. In the UK however, it’s an insulting gesture, an equivalent of giving someone the finger.
Making localization mistakes in cases like this can deal a devastating blow to your business. The severity of the potential consequences should be the best motivator for hiring a local marketing team to develop a way to introduce your brand to a new country.
5. Not accounting for text expansion
These localization mistakes can also ruin your visual marketing efforts. Never forget that translated text in a different language rarely, if ever, takes up the same amount of space. As the majority of marketing materials are designed not only to sound but also to look attractive, these mistakes can spoil their appearance.
It’s essential that you reformat all your templates for every language to make them look balanced and professional. This consideration is most important when you are localizing a piece of software, as the names for different menu features should not be too long.
When localizing the brand name, you should always use the target country’s language. Thus, you will need to change your logo for your new business venture. To maintain brand integrity, make sure it matches your default design.
BeTranslated, a professional translation agency you can trust
For any localization project, the most critical decision is which language service provider to contract. With BeTranslated, you can rest assured that your documents will be in good hands, with our team of native language professionals specializing in localization, legal translation and business translation.
What are you waiting for? Request a free, no-commitment quote today and move your business to the next level.