Importance of Web Content Localization

Allison Reed
content localizationLina Miller

When entering the international community or starting online promotion of your product in other countries, the content translation will definitely not be enough for attracting visitors. In order to be successful in offering your services for clients, it is crucial to take into account the local beliefs, traditions, and mentality, so that is why web content localization holds so much importance for many companies.

Sure thing, with nowadays possibilities the world wide web opens, it is much easier to attract visitors even when not applying much effort. But localization will always remain your key to success - the given understanding of the world is not limited to only one nation or way of thinking being able to make wonders. Examples are taken from major companies, you can actually see how they hire teams for localizing the website and gain the most benefits out of it.

The definition of content localization

Generally speaking, for the digital market content localization means transforming or creating a certain content adjusted to the comfortable consumption of people related to a certain region. As a result of it, the final version of content becomes absolutely native for the local community, adjusting to their cultural views, overcoming language barriers, hitting their common preferences.

Such an effect cannot be made just by sheer words translated from one language to another.

On the other hand, relying only on localization too much can have the opposite effect on your business. So you should be aware of it and keep the balance between preserving its original sense and making it appealing for potential customers.

What can go wrong during the localization process

The history contains a lot of examples related to unsuccessful attempts of localizing products or content related to it, some hilarious and some - quite depressing:

  • California Milk Advisory Board - in Mexico the mistake that had almost occurred contained two points. Firstly, it was translating "Got milk?" into "Are you lactating?", and, secondly, the sheer idea of running ads related to milk selling was offensive to the culture relating to household gains.
  • Coors - the company failed with localizing its slogan "Turn it loose" into Spanish, making it sound like wording meaning "suffer from diarrhea".
  • Electrolux - on the US market the Swedish company appeared with a slogan "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux", trying to emphasize the efficiency of their device.
  • Home Depot - the improper strategy of advertisement led to bankruptcy when promoting in China and picking the regions that couldn't allow investments into house reparation.
  • Honda - the compact car, named "Fitta" at first, appeared to hold the vulgar meaning of woman's genitals in Scandinavian languages.
  • HSBC - the initial "Assume nothing" transformed into "Do nothing" during localizations, making the bank spend millions for changing it into a neutral and easier "The world's private bank".
  • KFC - Chinese people got the first launch of a fast-food chain coming with the phrase "Eat your fingers off!" instead of more peaceful "Finger-lickin' good".
  • Panasonic - during the release of the first touchscreen computer there appeared confusion because of its name after Woody Woodpecker, so the translation sounded like "Touch Woody - the Internet Pecker".
  • Parker - the confusion happened in Mexicali localization, telling the customers that their pen "won't leak in the pocket and impregnate you".
  • Pepsi - the Chinese localization for its campaign transformed from "Come alive!" to "Bring your ancestors from the dead". Almost the same happened in the German language.

Of course, not every case ended up like that, and there are many successful examples for setting up localization and gaining even more benefits from it. So you should never give up on it - just be cautious enough about this idea.

Reasons for failing localizing

As it is clearly seen from the examples above, all of these confusions could be prevented if only the team responsible for localizations made proper research beforehand and taken actions for improving the situation. Knowing a language or putting the information through a translator is clearly not enough. For high-quality transformation of content, it is essential to learn more about non-dictionary sayings, cultural details - anything, even when seeming to be insignificant, can hold a large meaning for the target audience you reach for.

Almost the same can be said about the improper timing of the release. If the promotion campaign was started when there is a heated social climate, it would definitely not end well. Or, when there is another successor whose products can be considered as supreme, it is not the best option to start competing with miserable chances of winning over.

The main steps that should be taken when preparing a localization strategy

Before launching the campaign in the targeted area, it is better to make some preliminary preparations and start with several actions that will significantly raise the chances of gaining as many benefits from localization as possible.

1. Determining the area of expanding the business

First things first, think of the plan of expansion - whether it is one country or several ones situated near each other, is the strategy aimed at covering the whole region or its individual areas. The geographical difference can also be the crucial factor for localization. Cities and villages, the same language with different dialects, uncommon history development creating different mentalities - all of these must be taken into account while planning.

2. Consulting with native citizens

Discussing the matter with people who are living in the target area and have the knowledge you need concerning daily life can help you in developing the specific strategy that will surely cover the drawbacks and bring out the strong points.

3. Picking the order or amount of content

When starting off the business, it is better to set the portions and type of web content localization to be promoted. For this purpose, the research about local markets and potential competitors may be rather handy.

4. Considering the included graphical elements

Not only is text important, but photos or visuals with certain ideas having a positive image in one region may have the opposite reaction when shown in another part of the world. In order to avoid any blame for mockery, you should pick some neutral content suitable for your products or services prepared for sale.

Then, all things considered, you are all ready for the possible turns and outcomes of localization, so pay attention to details and do not repeat the mistakes mentioned above! Hope you will succeed in any of your set achievements and get only fruitful results.

Good luck!


What is the key point of web content localization?

Web content localization is aimed at sending the correct message to the target audience of a certain region so that it reflects the general idea of the company without messing up its sense because of incorrect translation.

Are there any examples of failed localization campaigns?

There are a lot of issues that happened with both medium and large-scale companies when localizing their products - either related to location, slogans, or wrong timing.

How to make sure I localize the content properly?

You can ask the people who constantly live in the target area for help in understanding the social situation, traditions, relations to various aspects concerning your product, etc.

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