In today's interconnected global marketplace, the power of a strong and consistent brand cannot be underestimated. While embracing cultural nuances and linguistic diversity, it's important to strike a balance between tailoring your message for local markets and safeguarding the essence of your brand identity.
Handling marketing localization to preserve brand consistency requires a strategic approach that balances the need to adapt your marketing materials to local cultures and languages while maintaining the core elements of your brand identity.
Sounds tricky? Well, that’s because it is.
Here’s how we handle marketing localization while preserving brand consistency for our clients.
Did you know? LinguaeMundi is one of the leading language service providers in Europe. With over 25 years of experience, we’ve sent our first translations through a fax machine. If you’re looking for a reliable language partner, we’re your folks: request a quote here.
Before you begin localization, you need to make sure that your brand identity, mission, values, and messaging are well-defined and consistent. This strong foundation will serve as a reference point during the localization process.
If your brand is too generic or vaguely defined, it won’t be easy to localize it with full confidence across different markets.
Clearly articulate your brand's core values, mission, and vision. What does your brand stand for? What problem does it solve? What do you aspire to achieve? These fundamental aspects will serve as the compass for your brand's actions and messaging.
This is just a starting point, though. After defining values, mission, and vision, you need to think about the following:
Who is your target audience? Do you have documentation on people you’re trying to reach?
What makes your brand different from competitors?
What is the overall narrative that captures your brand's history, purpose, and journey?
What is your visual identity - logo, color palette, typography, imagery?
What is the tone, style, and language your brand will use across all communication channels?
After you answer these key questions, you need to compile all the elements of your brand identity, including visuals, voice, and messaging, into comprehensive brand guidelines. These guidelines serve as a reference for anyone creating content or materials for your brand.
Before you kickstart the process of marketing localization, you need to educate yourself on the cultural nuances, preferences, and sensitivities of your target markets. It’s important to understand local customs, traditions, and beliefs to avoid any unintentional cultural faux pas.
Conducting cultural research is not as simple as formulating a Google search. You need to collaborate with local experts, cultural consultants, or even members of your target audience from each market. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives on cultural norms, preferences, and sensitivities.
Here is a small overview of things you need to take into account:
Language and communication styles
Culutral values and norms
Symbolism and imagery
Cultural taboos and sensitivities
Consumer behavior and habits
The list goes on. For example, you should also pay attention to media consumption habits. Think about how your target audience consumes media, including TV, radio, print, online, and social media. This will help you tailor your messaging to the platforms they frequent. Additionally, you should stay updated on current trends, events, and influencers relevant to the target market. Integrating local trends can make your marketing efforts more relevant and timely.
Marketing localization goes beyond translation. It involves adapting your content to resonate with local audiences. This may require changing idioms, cultural references, and even reimagining visuals to ensure they're relevant and appealing.
For slogans, taglines, and branding elements, you need transcreation. You have to craft new messaging that captures the essence of your brand while resonating with the target audience.
Here’s one example.
Kit Kat is a popular chocolate bar brand with their famous slogan "Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat". This brand’s transcreated slogan for Japan is "Kitto Katsu" which is a play on words that sounds like "Kit Kat" but means "Surely Win" in Japanese.
The transcreated slogan maintains the phonetic resemblance to "Kit Kat" while incorporating a culturally relevant and meaningful phrase in Japanese.
The transcreation takes advantage of a linguistic play on words, leveraging the phonetic similarity between "Kit Kat" and "Kitto Katsu." The Japanese phrase "Kitto Katsu" carries a positive and encouraging message, implying a sense of confidence and success. This transcreation not only maintains brand recognition by incorporating the brand name but also adapts the message to resonate with the local audience's cultural context and values.
This way, Kit Kat was able to create a catchy and memorable slogan in Japan that captures the essence of the brand while infusing it with a culturally meaningful twist. This approach demonstrates how transcreation goes beyond literal translation to create a deeper connection between the brand and its target audience.
The challenge with marketing localization is to adapt your brand personality to new markets without losing the identity in the process. You have to adapt if you want the audience to accept your brand.
There’s an interesting example of how to successfully accomplish this - Honda motorbikes. It comes down to communicating the values that resonate with your target audience.
In the Western countries that are marked by individualism, Honda emphasized values such as freedom and adventure. If you were to analyze the messaging on the Honda UK website, you’d see that it communicates performance and competitiveness.
But then check this Honda’s website in Thailand and you’ll see a different narrative. Here, marketing is centered around helmet safety, the family, and community. Makes sense given the fact we’re talking about the collectivistic culture and in general, a society that has a slightly different cultural values.
Marketing localization is typically something that most companies struggle with. It’s hard to navigate through cultural nuances, idioms, and customs of the target market. But it is important to know your target market to avoid potentially offensive or confusing content and ensure that your marketing materials match local preferences and align with expectations and sensitivities.
For companies that are planning an international expansion, it’s better to hire a language service provider that knows what they are doing versus taking the DIY approach. Trying to handle marketing localization on your own to save money might backfire, especially if you make a bad first impression with a new audience you’re trying to attract.
To avoid this, book a call with LinguaeMundi to discuss your project and challenges. We’re happy to give you a quote, but also to share best practices and point you in the right direction.