The fine line between localisation and globalisation

Treading The Fine Line Between Localisation And Globalisation

No brand can be all things to all people, but that doesn’t prevent companies from having a darn good go. As a professional translation team that works with global brands such as Santander and Manchester United, as well as many small and medium-sized enterprises, we are constantly treading the fine line between localisation and globalisation. Huge brands want the familiarity and personal service associated with local brands, while genuinely local brands strive to convey the trust and credibility commonly associated with bigger businesses.

Building a strong global brand has never been easy, but once achieved, it does create an array of efficiency benefits that can give globalised businesses the upper hand. However, every new market is different, and a standardised approach will often lack the common touch people love.

A new brand entering into a new market has to work harder than established native brands to grab the attention of potential customers. Localisation is one approach global business use to earn the trust and respect of local people, and to position their brand closer to the consumer. But is localisation always the best approach?

The decision to localise

Localisation is an expensive process, so the decision whether to localise your business for specific markets requires plenty of research and analysis. However, in some cases the decision is simple.

For example, if your business strategy relies on local work or production, or if your original brand is based on colours or a name indicative of another culture, the localisation of your message to create a brand with a local look and feel will be central to your success.

However, the localisation decision is rarely so black and white. In most cases the fine line between brand features and cultural adaptation can cause companies to struggle with questions like:

  • Do the brand’s colours create a favourable impression in the foreign market?
  • Are the brand’s icons clearly understood in the new market?
  • Does your tagline translate into other languages without losing its meaning?
  • Is your offering even relevant to consumers living in this other culture?
  • Are poor sales the result of a reluctance to localise, or are they simply the result of insufficient demand?

The issue is: to what extent do multinational companies integrate or differentiate their operations between separate national markets?

The benefits of localisation

  • Gain a competitive advantage – If the competition localises its products or is made up of native producers, localisation will help you keep up. Alternatively, selling and serving your customers in their own language will give you a definite advantage over competitors with English-only products.
  • Show commitment to international customers – A localised website for specific customer groups highlights the company’s commitment to delivering information to consumers in their native tongue.
  • Build a strong local and international image – A localised presence will help your business project a strong international image that will benefit customers globally and locally.
  • Communicate effectively with customers and prospects – The localisation of your customer support operations can help international users better understand and apply your products and services. The result is an improved customer experience.
  • Improve market penetration – Localising your products will give customers in new markets a compelling reason to buy your products. Increasing market penetration in existing markets through localisation also represents a cost effective alternative to entering new international regions.

As a British company, it’s all too easy to think of English as the language of your business. In reality, the language of your business is the language of the customer. A professional localisation service can help your business find its voice in any market.

For more information abut localising your business’ key messages, please get in touch with our experienced team of mother tongue linguists today.