Why Your Localization Team Should Tailor Your Copy

by | Aug 25, 2020

It’s unreasonable to expect your translation and localization team to produce translations that are a carbon copy of your original content and still manage to resonate with the market they’re localizing for. In reality, such a seemingly perfect translation is impossible, which is why you need greater involvement of your localization team in copy creation in each country you are aiming to do business in.

Localization team

Localizing Your “Perfect” Copy

Imagine that you’ve written the ideal content. You’ve managed to make something completely accessible and straightforward for your audience to understand. But now it’s time to localize the same content into five or more other languages. You forward it to your translation and localization teams along with a few screenshots – and that’s it! Your copy is perfect, so what could possibly go wrong?

Actually, a lot can go wrong. Your localization team can translate your copy word for word, paying no attention to the local language idiom or culture. They can also fail to take notice of the overall context of your writing. The result is a flat and bland version of your copy in the local language that is likely to be full of errors and create an impression with your target audience that you don’t want.

What Effective Tailoring of Your Copy Can Do

Your localization team should use their deep understanding of the local market to effectively localize your copy. This means that a tailored version of your copy may be different from your “perfect” content, but it will be as seamless and natural as the original in order to engage your local audience completely. Here’s how to achieve effective results.

Keep Your Brand’s Voice

Your brand’s voice is the equivalent of your brand’s personality. Localization should not change this voice; rather, it should bring it to life in a way that resonates with your target audience. Your translation and localization team should adapt, interpret, and translate the tone of the voice based on the culture, the context, and the values your brand is trying to communicate to your would-be local consumers.

  • Example: Let’s say your content relates to a travel product. You want to write in a voice that’s energetic and friendly yet conveys trust and responsibility at the same time. And, you want to translate these emotions and values into Hebrew and Japanese, languages that belong to two entirely different cultures.

Hebrew: Hi {guest_name}, we’d love to look into your request for you. Customer service will contact you by email or phone to make sure everything is handled as it should be. Thanks!

Japanese: Hello {guest_name}, thank you for your inquiry. After confirming the situation, our customer service will contact you by email or phone. Thank you for your understanding.

Notice how Hebrew makes use of the light and friendly Hi, while Japanese uses the more formal Hello. Also, Hebrew only has as informal Thanks! at the end, while the Japanese localization team says thank you to their audience twice – at the beginning and at the end.

Personalize Appropriately

Personalization means you’re tailoring your copy to the culture and lifestyle of your audience. A simple sentence such as Hi {guest_name}, these hotels are recommended for you because you like remote beaches might be completely unnatural, overly personal, or absolutely appropriate – it’s all dependent on who you are talking to and which country they are in.

Understand the Locale

Great personalization is not just about making adjustments to your tone, choosing the right words, or being culturally sensitive. It’s also about those little details that make your localized copy feel genuine and appealing.

  • Example: In some countries, people work Sunday through Thursday. This means that your localization team will need to find workarounds for any TGIF and Monday jokes in your content. Plus, if you send out your weekend newsletter on Sundays to Arabic and Hebrew speakers, you are probably wasting time, money, and effort. They won’t be available to respond to your email while they’re starting their new work week, and your effort will seem odd and out of place. Their local travel agents would never make that kind of mistake.

The Crucial Importance of Localization

It’s important to use a localization team that knows your targeted market inside and out. They need to understand how to effectively highlight the aspects of your brand that will be most relevant and appealing to your targeted audience. Here’s some advice on working with your localization team.

1. Provide context

Your localization team should not be required to translate phrases without an understanding of the user journey – how you want the user to get there or where you want the user to go. After all, you want to end up with localized copy that converts. Giving your localization team’s translators more context will help achieve better translation and higher conversion rates.

2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Maintain an open communication channel between your copywriters and your localization team and encourage your localization team to ask questions. You want them to flag issues if they don’t fully understand your copy. Yes, it will require time and effort, but the results will speak for themselves.

3. Establish a Community

It’s important to facilitate communication between different localization teams. Set up a space (e.g., a Facebook group or a Trello board) to enable this community to share information, discuss processes, and find inspiration. This will undoubtedly help to improve the quality of your translations. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to treat every audience equally and make inroads into new markets, you must be prepared to invest as much as you do with your English speaking audience. And if the copy produced by your localization team ends up looking different than yours, don’t worry. It means you’re doing something right!

Localize Can Help Your Localization Team

Getting localization right can be challenging, but your TMS doesn’t have to be. Localize provides seamless end-to-end localization solutions for thousands of websites, mobile apps, games, and businesses worldwide. Our advanced automation and technology enables you to quickly translate and publish content live on your website, add new languages, and work collaboratively with your team members. Contact us today.