All posts by Linguistica International

Why ‘Smile and the Whole World Smiles with you’ is not Strictly True

Why ‘Smile and the Whole World Smiles with you’ is not Strictly True

In the UK, we love a smile (well some of us do). We can smile at a complete stranger without it being a particularly odd thing to do. Yes, you run the risk of being completely blanked, or worse still, looked at in that pitying, slightly suspicious kind of way, but who cares? As the ‘smiler’ you’re putting yourself out there, and that alone must be some kind of victory.

But the act of smiling is not as universal as you might think. Despite being one the happiest countries in the world on any scale you choose to look at, the Swiss are quite the dour looking bunch, saving their smiles to genuinely express their emotions rather than just saying hi.

In America, smiling is much more common than in less emotionally expressive countries such as Japan. But this doesn’t mean the Japan is full of miseries, it simply means they are subject to different cultural influences.

And this is the important point: Cultural understanding can be extremely significant when you’re trying to build a relationship based on trust, confidence and mutual understanding for business purposes.

The importance of a smile in business

In business, what we do with our faces is important. If you’re working in a pro-smiling culture like America, which is arguably the smile capital of the world, be prepared to flash those teeth. Smiling in the States is seen as a tool to show respect, ease relationships and greet people you are unfamiliar with.

This is particularly true when it comes to customer relationships. As customers in America and the UK, we expect to be greeted with a smile, whether that’s by a retail assistant, a waiter or waitress or a service provider. In smiling cultures, if we are greeted by a serious or grim-faced employee, we tend to feel aggrieved in some way, and that the service wasn’t up to the standard we might expect.

These differing cultural attitudes towards smiling can cause misunderstandings when we travel abroad to do business. The Japanese culture, for instance, is probably where the most overt shunning of emotion takes place. That doesn’t mean Japanese people are unhappy, or do not wish their clients and customers well, but this humility and the suppression of emotions is actually the way they build and improve these relationships.

How does cultural background affect a smile?

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology into the psychology of a smile found that people from a Japanese background tend to be better than Americans at determining when a smile is genuine.

By focusing on the eyes rather than the mouth when expressing and reading emotions, the Japanese are able to read the true emotions of others, and distinguish a real smile from a fake one. This difference is a manifestation of the cultural attitudes of the two countries.

While the American culture values overt expressions of emotion and openness, the Japanese culture tends to value humility and the suppression of emotion to improve relationships with others. These cultural differences could easily be misinterpreted and potentially become a sticking point in communications between businesses from these two countries.

Overcoming our cultural conditioning

As anyone who has tried to overcome their cultural conditioning will know, unlearning our natural characteristics and traits is not easy. There have been a few occasions when non-smiling cultures have tried to turn their frowns upside down.

Perhaps most famously, the Chinese authorities tried to get people working at the Beijing Olympics to smile more. Stewards were asked to clench a chopstick between their teeth in an attempt to develop their smiling muscles. Russian border guards have also undergone a little smile training of their own. They were told to smile more to be less intimidating and more welcoming to foreign visitors.

When it comes to moving into another culture, it can be just as important to understand the non-verbal cues as it is the spoken communication. Smiling is an important part of how we communicate with others and understand their behaviours and attitudes, so it’s essential you know just how much a smile is worth when you do business overseas.

How can we help?

At Linguistica International, we work with a professional network of translators, transcreators and interpreters who not only work in their mother tongue, but also live in these countries. That means every word, even the unspoken, is clearly understood. Please get in touch today to make your business heard, whatever the market.

Expanding overseas

Expanding Overseas? Here’s Proof that Size isn’t Everything

When you’re considering expanding into an overseas market, the size of the market is likely to be a determining factor in your decision. After all, you probably wouldn’t go to the expense of setting up a regional hub on the Island of Jersey, with its population of just under 100,000 – unless of course you were in it for the tax breaks!

So, size is undoubtedly one factor to think about when considering the potential return on your investment – but size is not everything. The rapidly growing markets of China and India, with their huge populations and swelling middle classes are often the first markets that come to mind when businesses are expanding internationally, but there are also number of other factors you should consider.

Are GDP figures a good guide?

Yes and no. Gross domestic product figures can actually be quite misleading. In 2015, emerging markets like the Philippines and Kenya look set to rival India’s prodigious GDP, while market growth in established giants like China and Russia is slowing down.

GDP is an attempt to measure the size of an economy by calculating the value of goods and services produced during a specific period of time, such as a quarter. However, in some unequal societies, the GDP can grow despite there only being a rise in the activities of an elite few, like those who own a country’s natural resources.

Although the gains in GDP are not being spread equally in India and China – both countries are home to some of the world’s poorest people – rising GDP is elevating the fortunes of a wider consumer base than in countries like Indonesia and Nigeria.

So, the sheer number of Indian and Chinese people with disposable income to spend is greater than ever before, making these countries potentially lucrative targets for expanding businesses. However, the slowdown in the growth of the Chinese market has led many UK companies to pull out in recent months.

How difficult is it to do business?

The potential benefit of entering an economy with a rapidly growing GDP can be cancelled out if the market is simply too difficult to operate in. Market inefficiencies can sap a business’s resources and the motivation it once had to succeed in a new market. The Chinese market has long been documented as one that can be extremely difficult for western businesses to operate in.

An index produced by the World Bank ranks economies on the ease of doing business. A high ranking like those received by Singapore and New Zealand, sat in first and second positions respectively, indicate that the domestic markets are conducive to the starting and ongoing operation of new firms.

While India may be a favourite expansion destination for UK businesses due to its thriving economy, a ranking of 142nd out of 189 shows that foreign companies will have a number of hoops to jump through and barriers to bypass before they can set up a successful operation. This of course will have a detrimental impact on the business’s costs.

Is the market too big?

The traditional expansion hotspots of China and India are also extremely large countries. As well as the complex and expensive logistical considerations this can create, it’s also important to consider language and regional fragmentation.

A study conducted by The People’s Linguistic Survey of India counted 780 languages spoken in India, although the official number is said to be 122. This tremendous linguistic diversity can make the process of communicating with the entire market nigh on impossible, which means it’s more practicable to view India as multiple markets rather than one.

The same can be said for China, where the level of consumer sophistication between rural and urban residents varies so widely that they cannot be viewed as a single consumer with common characteristics and traits.

In reality, markets like Malaysia, which is the 18th easiest country to do business in, or Nigeria, where there’s a burgeoning middle class and the population speak English, could provide more appealing options.

Make your business heard in every market

At Linguistica International, we work with mother tongue translators to get your message across in every market. Our network of over 2,000 professional linguists, working in over 200 languages, have helped business such as Orange, Santander, Manchester United and GlaxoSmithKline make their mark in overseas markets right across the world. Get in touch today to discuss how we can help you.


Translation is the Tip of your Overseas Marketing Iceberg

In business,  sometimes the temptation is to take a bit of a shortcut. We all like to reduce costs where we can, and of course, this is an essential part of running a successful business – but there are some occasions when things need to be done properly.

JRR Tolkien once said: “Shortcuts make long delays”. And when you’re trying to create an international marketing campaign that really strikes a chord with a local audience, this couldn’t be more true.

If you operate in overseas markets, the cost effective approach to spreading the word is the wholesale translation of your marketing materials e.g. websites, brochures and online content, into the target language. This approach ensures plenty of reach without too much spend, but does it do your message justice?

Why translation is never enough

Creating effective marketing messages is a complicated process, even in your native language. Typically, if you’re investing in a marketing campaign, the source content will be created over a matter of weeks, often with the help of an advertising agency. In many cases, it will also undergo a number of executive and peer reviews. The point is that no expense is spared to get the message across.

The source message will most likely be created by British marketers, who will not give a second thought to whether their message will chime with overseas customers. After all, that’s not their job.

Once you have an enticing and attention grabbing message written in English, the temptation is to think that the hard work’s done – “let’s translate the message for our overseas markets and roll this out worldwide!”

The trouble is, rather than adapting the message for overseas audiences, the translation team translate exactly what they have in front of them. All too often, this creates a message that lacks much of its initial punch and sometimes doesn’t even make sense in the target language.

What’s the alternative?

‘Transcreation is the process of recreating precise brand content for multilingual consumption. Standard translation and localisation services don’t effectively preserve the creative and emotional intent of content that allows it to best resonate in other languages and cultures’.


When you’ve created a marketing message that strikes the right chord, you should use a transcreation service you can trust to deliver the same level of impact across languages and cultures.

A transcreation service provides the first class translation skills, local knowledge, copywriting expertise and creative flair required to make your message sing in every language. Rather than merely translating the copy, a transcreation team will make your message relevant to local consumers by adapting the style, tone, idioms, analogies and images to meet the local audience’s expectations. The result is a message that resonates with diverse customer groups around the world.

How can we help?

At Linguistica International, we understand that only the very best copy engages, intrigues and compels your customers to act. So, when you’ve gone to the time and expense of creating copy that strikes an emotional chord, we transcreate that message to deliver the same impact in different languages and cultures.

Find out more about how our transcreation service can help your business communicate effectively across language barriers and get in touch today.

Social media tips

Top Social Media Tips to Engage International Customers

Love it or loathe it, social media is a powerhouse of a platform for marketing businesses of just about every size and sector. In your personal life, you’ll be forgiven for not updating your ‘followers’ about just how much fun you’ve been having at the local car boot sale, or posting those all important pictures of your lunch #noonecareswhatyouhadforlunch – but when it comes to business, social media is an indispensable marketing tool.

Businesses that are already using social media to connect with prospective customers will probably already have the odd Twitter follower or Facebook fan from a foreign country, but connecting and engaging with international customers are two very different things. If you want to actively target international customers with social media, you’ll need to take a localised approach.

It might sound tricky, but localising your social media campaign is not as complicated as you might think. Here are our top tips to help you along the way…

1. Hangout in all the right places

Every social media platform has its own particular demographic. While Facebook is more likely to be the place where the young‘uns like to hang, LinkedIn is a more popular space amongst professionals. However, different countries also have their own distinct social media preferences.

Facebook is the world’s most widely used social media platform with 1.49bn active users worldwide. QQ, which many of you will have never heard of, is the second most popular social media platform in the world, with 832 million users. QQ is used primarily in China, so if want to expand into the Chinese market, QQ is where you need to be.

2. Talk their language

English was by far and away the most common language spoken online, but in the past few years the rest of the world has started to catch up. The latest stats show that the English language accounts for about 30 percent of the content out there in cyberspace. The use of French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese and Chinese online has grown massively over the last decade, so it’s essential you choose the right language to engage your target market.

3. Check what’s trending

If you want to engage your target market, you need to find out what they’re talking about online. The culture of your target market will have a considerable impact on the type of conversations they’re having. Engaging with customers on their level is central to turning your brand into a living, breathing entity your target market want to be a part of.

Tools such as Trendsmap and Twitter’s local trend search feature give you a better idea of the hot topics globally, nationally and in your local area. Staying on top of the changing trends will help to keep your brand relevant.

4. Gauge the tone

Social media is not the place for stuffy, formal language. Social media is the one place where businesses can let their hair down and communicate on their customers’ level through the use of colloquialisms, slang and idioms. The use of ‘social’ language is one of the keys to your success, so using a native speaker who is familiar with your target market will help you hit the right tone.

5. Timing is everything

It might be convenient for you to send social media updates while you’re in the office, but your posts will fall flat if your target markets are tucking themselves into bed. It’s essential that those in charge of your international social media campaign are mindful about when posts are going out in different countries. It is relatively simple to geo-target your messages and schedule them to be sent out to different countries at different times.

How can we help?

If you need a hand localising social media, website or marketing copy to engage your target market, wherever they might be, we can help. Get in touch with Linguistica International today to learn more about our transcreation and localisation service.

BRICS countries

Linguistic Acronyms: What in the World are MINT, FIGS & BRICS?

If we were to ask you what you understood by the terms MINT, FIGS & BRICS, you’d probably rightly say the first is a plant used to flavour all sorts of foods and drinks; the second is a fruit famed for keeping you regular; and the last is a misspelling of a common building material; and of course, you’d be right.

But the capital letters change all that. If you’re a Robert Peston fan or regularly listen to news bulletins on Radio 4, you’ll know that all three acronyms are used to describe countries that have been grouped together for economic reasons.

Each acronym refers to the countries you can see below:

Mexico France Brazil
Indonesia Italy Russia
Nigeria Germany India
Turkey Spain China
(South Africa)

Why are these groupings used?

The countries have been grouped together in this way to account for their similar level of economic development. The FIGS countries are ripe for the picking (pardon the pun), because their economies are well developed, despite a couple of recent hiccups in Italy and Spain.

The BRICS countries are the rising stars and the world’s major emerging markets. They were grouped together by economist Jim O’Neil in 2001, with South Africa added to the list in 2010. O’Neil predicted these five countries would overtake the six largest western economies in terms of their economic power by 2041. He later revised this prediction down to 2032.

The MINT countries are full of economic potential. They cannot yet be classed in the same bracket as BRICS, but they are beginning to play a more influential role in economics and geo-economics, and turn their previously struggling economies around. They are BRICS countries in the making.

Why is this relevant to linguistics?

When it comes to expanding into foreign markets, businesses will consider those markets where the potential for sales is strong, and where the necessary framework is in place to encourage business growth and economic development.

For UK businesses looking to expand into a major European market, the FIGS countries are recognised as the most popular languages for the localisation of business assets like websites, online content and offline marketing materials. Why? Because these four countries represent the strongest European markets with the greatest potential for success. Of course, if a business was not based in the UK, Britain would also be added to this list.

The BRICS countries account for around 40 percent of the population, so the opportunities for UK businesses are huge. There is also a growing middle class in these countries, meaning more people with disposable income to spend. Expanding into a BRICS country will be risker than a FIGS country due to the significant cultural differences, but get it right and the potential rewards for British businesses are enormous. That is why an increasing number of business are localising their message for a BRICS audience.

The MINT countries represent a riskier proposition still, but again, the rewards could well be worth it. The boom years for BRICS countries have been and gone while the MINT countries are still in the early stages of their economic development, so establishing your business now could lead to great things in the future.

How can we help?

The only barrier preventing UK online businesses from entering into these potentially lucrative markets is language. At Linguistica International, our mother tongue translation, transcreation and telephone interpreting experts can kick start your international growth plans with language services that speak directly to your target market. For more information, please get in touch with our team today.




Foreign langauge fluency

When do you Become ‘Fluent’ in a Foreign Language?

Those who speak a foreign language are often asked to gauge their proficiency on a scale that ranges from an absolute beginner, still at the speaking slowly and pointing stage, all the way up to foreign language fluency. But what does it mean to be fluent? Well, that’s actually a surprisingly difficult question to answer.

Is the definition of a fluent foreign language speaker someone who could easily pass for a mother tongue speaker? Or does it mean you can take part in any conversion despite your vocabulary and accent being a little less than perfect?

One organisation that has tried to answer the question of fluency is the Council of Europe. They developed the Common European Framework of Reference for Language to define different levels of language ability.

The highest level of language ability on their scale is a ‘proficient user’, who is defined as someone who can ‘take part in any conversation effortlessly, conveying finer shades of meaning precisely with a good familiarity of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms’.

However, there’s also a lower level of proficiency, ‘advanced user’, which most people would also consider to be fluent. An advanced user is one who can ‘spontaneously formulate ideas and opinions for social and professional purposes with precision and without much obvious search for expressions’.

In the above example, although the advanced user would not be mistaken for a mother tongue speaker, they would be able to navigate around any gaps in their knowledge to make themselves understood, regardless of the topic of conversation. Does that make them fluent? Well, it must mean they’re pretty close.

The size of your vocabulary

One of the most important factors in assessing a foreign language speaker’s proficiency is the size of their vocabulary. Generally speaking, a native speaker of will have an active vocabulary of about 20,000 words they use regularly. This is comprised of words the native speaker could use confidently and their meaning is clearly understood, such as ‘t-shirt’ or ‘house’.

Most native speakers will also have a passive vocabulary of 15,000 words or more, which will include words they recognise but tend to use imprecisely. These words, such as ‘nonplussed’ or ‘cognitive’ might be familiar to the native speaker, but not always precisely understood.

So, by that logic, even native speakers aren’t completely fluent in their own language. Sometimes we’re all guilty of using words we don’t fully understand, and even confident native speakers are out of their depths discussing unfamiliar technical topics.

The range of language areas covered

Another important measure of linguistic fluency is the range of language areas people are comfortable with. A fluent linguist should have mastered both the written and spoken language, and be comfortable in a formal and informal setting. It goes without saying that the ability to switch between tenses correctly plays an essential part in language proficiency, but this should also be bolstered by a vocabulary that fits a diverse range of situations.

The ability to deviate away from the conversations we see in textbooks is a key part of language learning. Although it makes sense for language students to start with the common phrases, true fluency is measured by an individual’s ability to operate outside of these stock interactions.

The taxi driver test

The taxi driver test is one method of gauging an individual’s ability to speak freely and improvise in situations, rather than simply regurgitating their phrase book.

Asking whether a friendly local taxi driver ‘can take you to the Sunshine Hotel’ is one thing, but what happens when you have a dispute about the fare. In this case, a whole new level of language ability and understanding is required.

Being able to transfer between tenses, into the conditional ‘I would have paid you the full fare if…’ in French, or correctly assessing the formality of the exchange in German or Hungarian, is central to an individual’s ability to negotiate the situation successfully. It is this cultural knowledge, or lack of it, that dictates how the speaker can perform in unfamiliar situations. This is the true test of foreign language fluency.

The difference between native and fluent speakers

At Linguistic International, all of our translators and telephone interpreters are native speakers who always translate into their mother tongue. So, not only are they fluent language speakers, but they are also familiar with the cultural and linguistic nuances that exist. Get in touch today to see how we can help your brand compete on the global stage.


Bilingual speakers

Further Proof of the Perks of Being Bilingual

Translation, transcreation and telephone interpreting services have never been in more demand than they are right now. Globalisation and the internet have made it possible for even small businesses to expand into foreign markets thousands of miles away. The ability to communicate with foreign customers, clients and suppliers is the only barrier that prevents businesses from expanding into almost any market. As a result, the job prospects of bilinguals have never been better.

The last 15 years has seen a considerable amount of research into the benefits of a bilingual mind. Last week’s Linguistica Recruitment blog looked more closely at research which revealed the increased earning potential and improvements in the quality of life bilinguals could expect. There’s also evidence to support the fact that bilingualism makes our brains more efficient at relaying information.

As if the odds weren’t stacked high enough in the polyglots’ favour, the latest research published in Psychological Science shows bilinguals also benefit from being able to view the world differently depending on the language they are communicating in.

A study of English and German language speakers

The research published by Psychological Science centred on a comprehensive study of German-English bilinguals and monolinguals to see how different language patterns changed the way the participants reacted to a number of different tests.

In one test, German-English bilinguals were shown video clips of events that involved a motion, such as a man cycling to a supermarket, or a woman walking towards her car. The participants were then asked to describe what they saw.

Interestingly, a monolingual German speaker would typically describe the action and the goal of the action i.e. “a man is cycling towards the supermarket” or “the woman is walking to her car”, while English monolinguals would simply describe the action i.e. “the man is cycling”, or “the woman is walking.

The researchers believe the reason for this difference is rooted in the way the grammar of the two languages places actions in time. English requires its speakers to grammatically explain the events are ongoing by adding –ing, whereas the German language does not require this grammatical mark.

Different language, different perspective

When it came to testing the bilingual speakers, they were able to switch between the goal orientated German language and the action focused English in accordance with the language they were speaking at the time. In fact, they were just as goal orientated and action focused as any of the German or English speakers, but they also had the ability to switch between the two

These findings support previous research which has showed distinct behaviour depending on the language bilinguals are speaking. For example, in another study, Israeli Arabs were more likely to associate Arab names like Ahmed and Samir with positive words when speaking an Arabic language rather than Hebrew.

Emotional and economic language biases

People often self-report that they feel like a different person when using a language other than their mother tongue, and that the expression of certain emotions carries a different resonance depending on the language they are using.

The same can be said for economic decisions. Bilinguals tend to judge risk differently in a second language, which leads them to make more rational economic decisions. Why? Well, in contrast to their native language, they have not formed the innate, often misleading biases that influence how risks and benefits are perceived. The result is a change not only in the way bilinguals think, but also the decisions they make.

How can we help?

If you need some assistance understanding the cultural and linguistic biases of your clients, suppliers and customers, our mother tongue translators, transcreators and interpreters can help. Get your business communications word perfect by contacting Linguistica International today.

Arabic Rated the Second Most Important Language for UK Businesses

Arabic Rated the Second Most Important Language for UK Businesses

A new initiative has been introduced into UK schools by the British Council to get more school children interested in studying languages. However, unlike the ubiquitous French and German classes that are currently undersubscribed in schools across the UK, this new initiative is a project with a difference.

The British Council has been spurred to introduce the teaching of Arabic into eight clusters of schools across the UK after research revealed it was the second most important language for future UK businesses. The study, which took into account the UK’s export links, government trade priorities, most popular holiday destinations, and diplomatic and security priorities, found that only Spanish was a more important language for children to learn.

Arabic is not only accessible, it’s also in great demand

Arabic is currently in great demand across a range of UK business sectors, but there’s a real shortage of well-qualified speakers. The culture, history and politics of much of the Arab world are so different that many young learners prefer to stick with languages a little closer to home.

Such is the dearth of Arabic speakers that government departments, the armed forces and many UK businesses are willing to pay their employees to study the language at an advanced level. As one of the six official UN languages, Arabic can be a real boost to the CV of anyone looking to start a career in international organisations and diplomacy, as well as tourism, journalism and international trade, particularly in the energy industry. Many of these jobs are also well paid, so studying Arabic at an early age is an excellent choice to develop the skills that will set language learners apart.

One written language with many spoken varieties

The lack of Arabic learners in UK schools and universities is attributed to the fact that many people believe it to be one of most difficult languages to learn. Arabic is written from right to left for a start, which can certainly be off-putting for some (try doing that in English and you’ll soon realise just how hard it can be!). However, Japanese is still currently more popular in UK schools despite there being thousands more characters to learn.

Arabic is not the language of a single county, but of 26 different nations across the Middle East and North Africa. There isn’t a single Arabic language as different dialects are spoken from country to country. This means that Arabic learners will have to get to grips with the universal written language, known as fus-ha, which translates as ‘the purest’, and one of the locally spoken dialects, which vary in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

The top ten future languages for UK businesses

French has consistently been the most popular language in UK schools, but this latest research shows how it is slowly slipping down the league table in its level of importance for UK businesses. According to the British Council, the most important languages for the UK’s businesses are:

1. Spanish
2. Arabic
3. French
4. Mandarin Chinese
5. German
6. Portuguese
7. Italian
8. Russian
9. Turkish
10. Japanese

In 2010, the schools secretary Ed Balls warned British businesses that Mandarin was the language of the future and wanted at least one school in every area to offer it as a subject at secondary level. Now all that has changed, and Arabic has become the lingua franca for British businesses with international aspirations.

An Arabic translation and interpreting service

If you’re yet to plug your skills gap with an Arabic speaker, we offer a full mother tongue translation and interpreting service that can help your business make waves in the Arab world. For more information, please get in touch with the Linguistica International translation team today.


International social media

Our Guide to Localising your International Social Media Campaign

The world is in the grip of a social media explosion. Just a few years ago, it used to be enough to have a business website to capitalise on those online opportunities, but nowadays, social media is king. Without a Twitter account or a Facebook page, your online business is virtually prehistoric.

The money businesses are spending on social media is on the rise. In 2014, 80 percent of businesses reported increased traffic to their website as a result of their social media efforts, while 66 percent generated additional leads. This shows how effective a well-run social media campaign can be at tapping into audiences that were previously off limits, and helping to create a recognisable international brand.

Navigating the minefield of localising your social media campaign for each market can be daunting, particularly on a limited budget, but there are a few a steps you can take to create international social media campaigns that support your expansion plans.

1. Define the market

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube might be all the rage in the UK and across much of the western world, but if you’re planning to expand into Asia, particularly China, then it’s Qzone and Renren that you’ll have to get to grips with.

Not every social media channel will be the right fit for your brand. While LinkedIn is great for reaching out to a corporate audience, visual sharing platforms like Instagram or Pinterest are more effective for lifestyle businesses like fashion, food and interior design.

Once you’ve decided which social media platforms will appeal to your target country and market, you need to understand exactly what that market are using the platform for. Are they watching videos, reading articles or private messaging? Ask yourself what makes a particular channel popular; once you have the answer, you can start creating your localised content.

2. Consider the culture

To travel effectively across international borders, it’s essential your content is culturally relevant and native to each target market. The best way to create culturally relevant content is to use a mother tongue linguist who lives and works in the target country. Their innate understanding of societal norms and cultural conventions will help to create content that introduces your brand to a new market in an appealing way.

3. Create assets that can be easily localised

Creating assets that appeal to your target market can be a time consuming and sometimes expensive business, but creating infographics, videos and original articles with localisation in mind can help to reduce the costs and increase the return on your investment.

Something as simple as sending infographics as .psd files rather than .jpgs, which will have to be edited all over again, can help to save a huge amount of time and expense.

4. Stay up to date

When it comes to social media assets created for multiple markets, some social media platforms are real stickers for the rules. YouTube, for instance, has strict rules in place that international marketers must adhere to, and simply putting different subtitles in place usually won’t do. Meanwhile, in China, there are certain words you are simply not allowed to use. Failure to adhere to the rules could lead to a ban from all social networks.

How are you localising your international social media campaigns? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave your two cents’ worth in the comments section below, or drop us a line on Twitter.

Localising your website

Our Five Point Guide to Localising your International Website

Digital globalisation is the cheapest way to expand your business internationally. The internet has put an end to the traditional barriers to entry into foreign markets. Now, no expensive infrastructure or tangible international assets are required, paving the way for thousands of small online businesses to pedal their products across the world.

However, just because some of the barriers have been removed, that does not mean success overseas is a given. Creating a successful multilingual website that opens doors in new markets is a serious undertaking. If you take a look at any successful international company, let’s take McDonald’s as an example, you’ll see that every region has its own version of the McDonald’s website.

Why? Well, a good website localisation strategy can make or break your attempts to expand overseas. Everything from the layout and design to the imagery, text and symbols you use must be relevant in the cultural context of each location.

So, to help with your international expansion plans, here’s our five-point guide to localising your global website…

1. Cultural context is key

The cultural context is everything when attempting to successfully localise your website. Every element of design, the text, images, and even the choice of colour must be considered in the cultural context of the target market. A page that works well in one language could have a completely different impact on a new audience. Taking the McDonald’s example again, a picture of a hamburger or cheeseburger on the homepage of their Indian website would not go done too well given that 80 percent of the population do not eat beef!

It’s also important to consider attitudes to business etiquette. In the UK, being informal and showing the human side of a business can work well. However, in countries like Poland and Japan, the business style and language is much more formal, so a direct translation of a more relaxed UK website may lack appeal.

2. Don’t take any translation shortcuts

Think about all the elements of your content that make it appeal to a specific audience, such as cultural references, slang, idioms and turns of phrase. All too often, businesses simply turn to an automated translation tool like Google Translate to localise their website pages – often with disastrous results.

Google Translate cannot take cultural references into account, so while it might be a clever tool that can provide some assistance with very simple translations, when you want copy that resonates with your intended audience you should always use a professional.

3. Make your message appropriate

Brand messages can mean different things to different people, with culture playing an important part in the message you convey. Crafting a brand message to let customers know what they can expect from your business is important, but creating a universal message that conveys the right message in different cultures can be tricky.

To be successful, it’s essential you make culturally appropriate changes to your branding, whilst ensuring that your overarching message and brand values are accurately recreated.

4. Check the layout

In some markets, the very fundamentals of your website will need to be changed to make your content accessible. In the Western World, we read in an F-shaped pattern, from left to right. However, in the expanding Arab market, people read from right to left, so that’s something you’d have to change to stand any chance of success.

5. Localise your keyword research

A localised SEO campaign will play an essential role in establishing your brand in overseas markets. Translating your website is all well and good, but if you merely translate your keywords, rather than checking the words and phrases your new audience are actually using, you could miss out on loads of potential traffic.

Localised link-building should also play an important part in your strategy. Optimising for Google alone might not be enough, so check out the most popular search engines in your target market. Do this well and you will benefit from a boost to your rankings and increased visibility for local searches.

Here at Linguistica International, we can advise you on every aspect of the website translation and localisation process to help you compete in overseas markets.