The process of localization (adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market) has allowed companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon become the world’s biggest brands. However, this process requires a carefully planned marketing strategy involving a significant amount of research and resources. While an increasing number of non-profit organizations are integrating the term “global” into their mission statement, few are investing in localization strategies similar to the ones employed by the private sector. Here are some guidelines for non-profit professionals considering to develop multilingual content in an effort to build a global brand.
Translation vs. Localization
While communicating with a global audience commonly involves bridging language barriers, building a global brand requires more than just translation. However, few professionals outside of marketers know what differentiates translation from localization.
To put it simply, translation aims to communicate a message to a target audience, whereas localization involves creating specific content that matches the target market’s language and culture. In addition to working with linguists who are native in the target language, the localization process usually requires collaborating with a team who has expertise in adapting graphics to a foreign market, modifying the design and layout to properly display translated text, and addressing global regulations and legal requirements.
A Strategic Approach to Global Branding
Unlike for-profit companies, where the end goal drives all the communication efforts, non-profits often lose sight of the objective and get caught up in the creation of original material before developing a global content strategy.
Addressing translation and localization in tandem with content creation will help organizations allocate the right resources early on and identify an efficient workflow between the author and the team in charge of translation management. This approach also allows enough time to conduct research on the target audience, budget for the service required, and avoid rush rates when contracting language providers.
Organizations looking to make existing content accessible in multiple languages should also avoid a blanket approach focused on the translation of all the original content available. This is particularly common for the development of multilingual websites where a mix of translated and original content is often published on the same page. In addition to strategically selecting material to be translated, editing original content to fit the target audience’s cultural context will ensure the message delivered has the highest impact.
In sum, whether the final objective of your organization is to influence policy, fund-raise, educate, or engage, adopting a marketing strategy tailored to the language and culture of the desired audience is critical to achieving success on a global scale.