By now, the effects of globalization have become so common that the very definition of it should perhaps be included into children’s books. You catch a glimpse of the familiarly-shaped yellow “M” in Vietnam, people are buying Pfizer medicine in Ecuador, and the notions of global visibility and customer loyalty are becoming close enough to be deemed equal. On the other end of the success spectrum, though, are some “thoroughly forgotten” – and sometimes hilarious – failures to adapt products to local markets.

What businesses should be very, very careful in distant regions

Take Gerber’s attempt to sell baby food in Africa, all the while retaining the original package. It was aesthetically pleasing, only that in several regions there is a tradition of depicting the actual contents on the outside. Now, the industrial giant that it is, the company survived the situation none worse for the wear – but the episode could’ve killed a smaller one.

What makes the whole thing “juicy” is that the children theme is something most people are pretty much sensitive to. The general principle is, no matter what caused a particular misunderstanding (cultural conventions, national traditions, linguistic traps), the closer it is to things like family and personal wellbeing, the more painful it gets when something goes wrong. For a building company, poor brand localization is a minor embarrassment, but what if you are, say, a pharma company?

These days, marketing content localization is gradually becoming a full-fledged art, capable of not only avoiding anecdotal mishaps, but also of exerting control of much subtler brand to customer interactions. And THAT is the territory where you start actually getting some real revenue boosts. Like visual arts, with their rules on perspectives and golden sections, this new art also has its set of principles – with these two on top:

  1. No, you don’t just translate a bunch of catchphrases into a different language and call that localization. It may work, but so might a plain old roulette.
  2. The ideas dwelling in the HQ and those circulating miles away are like weights balanced on scales. Too much pressure from either side, and the whole thing gets toppled.

Now, with these preliminaries out of the way, let us work through some of the problematic issues of brand localization.

Issue #1. What localization is all about

The most obvious one is ignoring the multifaceted nature of localization (see rule (a) above). On the one hand, the “mere translation” part, though easily automatized to some extent, has its know-hows.

Additionally, the content itself should be adapted for use on local sites, applications, presentation materials, etc. This is what experts refer to as “full localization”. According to a recent research, only about 38% of multinational company websites exhibit this feature. Sometimes it’s not enough to change the tone of your “marketing voice” – the phrasing (and message!) has to be adapted, as well. This is where we get to number two…

Issue #2. Who knows your customers better?

Local departments should have a say in campaign planning. Easily said than done sometimes, but there’s a way to achieve this. Simply define which elements of your new campaign are universal and obligatory, and which could be refashioned to some (quantified) extent by your local representatives. After all, they are the ones actually running into your potential customers in the street.

Issue #3. Brand strategy responsiveness

In many cases, brand strategy has been shown to be excessively rigid. What that means is, in the rapid torrents of modern market, brand strategy has to be revisited based on relevant customer feedback as frequently as possible (insomuch as your face is recognized, of course). Getting that feedback might seem as a tricky thing to do at first, but digital technologies do simplify the process. It has been shown, for example, how using CRM/CLM systems essentially provides you with a stream of KPI data. The analytics can be used for greater marketing flexibility – all the while your competitors are reading yesterday’s papers. Biased as they may be. Not you, though.

At the end of the day… Is the dawn of another

There are numerous ways you could achieve efficient localization. The guidelines provided above are only general, so get detailed information on how to craft a successful global marketing strategy. The takeaway, though, is that content localization is a powerful tool, and the more you are able to implement it on a regular basis, the more at home you are abroad.

Important: jump at every chance to make digital technology do some of it for you. Take a minute to study the capacities of marketing software, which will help you pull the strings from your HQ with less effort than ever. Simply request a free demo to find out about the range of functions and possibilities.