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How to Avoid Cultural Mistakes in Localization

By March 5, 2018Translation Tips
Cultural Mistakes

Localization goes a step further than translation when it comes to promoting a product. It’s a translation which considers the way the audience in the targeted country thinks, acts and talks. It also adapts the translation to local customs, laws, traditions and beliefs. There is no special code that needs to be followed but the success of localization depends on the cultural knowledge that’s portrayed in the translation.

How to avoid Localization Mistakes

1. Recognize Differences

When marketing a product overseas to a country that seems to have adopted English it’s not enough to assume the market in that country is going to understand a product that is being marketed in English. It’s important to utilize the localization technique by looking at the customs that the country adopts. This includes standards of behaviour which must be embedded in localization marketing material. It’s important to avoid making cultural mistakes in localization

2. Conduct Research

Localization plays an important part in the success of any company which wishes to attract a global market. The company adopting a sound localization principle should have collected the correct data on regulations, local rules, specific laws, consumer behaviour, spending habits, preferences, competition, language preferences, beliefs and local traditions. This should help to avoid localization mistakes.

3. Respect Local Flags

Any localization team should be conscious of a country’s flag and what it symbolises to its people. There is nothing wrong with incorporating the flag in marketing material for your product to that particular country. In the United States of America it’s permissible to use the flag’s colours on clothing and other products and people are generally proud to do so. However, you can’t assume this for all countries as for example in Saudi Arabia on the flag is text from the Qur’an and the flag as a whole can’t be symbolized on things such as soccer balls as it is considered to be offensive to kick around something with Qur’an text on it.

4. Be Careful with Advertising Clothing

In some cultures, it’s not acceptable to advertise clothing on models who are showing too much bare flesh.

5. Work with Qualified Translators

Because localization involves all aspects of a country’s culture it’s important to find translators who know the cultures well so they can quickly present an appropriate translation. The best situation is involving two translators in your localization campaign. They need to be experts in your product but also must have appropriate local knowledge of the culture of the languages you are set to target.

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