Getting a localization strategy right from the outset can prove the difference between success and failure for a brand looking to expand into a new market.
Get your strategy right, and you expose your brand to massive, international growth opportunities. Get it wrong however, and your business could face the kind of reputational damage that puts a major dent in your global expansion plans.
The two well-known companies mentioned in this post succeeded because they developed very detailed localization strategies that fuelled their growth in their specific markets.
Following these localization strategies is a good start if you are looking to expand into global markets, and to grow your brand.
What is a Localization strategy?
It is the overall market plan and approach, for how a company will go about adapting its content and messaging, to a new market.
Localization is about delivering a unique customer experience that is tailored to a specific culture (this includes every interaction they have with your brand – both online and off), in a specific country – by a company – in order to build brand recognition and appeal for that company’s products and services.
How do companies develop a Localization strategy?
By going on very expensive Localization development retreats, for weeks at a time, only to return with a “ Our localization strategy will answer the what, when, and where of our customers” – statement.
Kidding. It’s not often this fancy.
Conducting research should be the first step of developing any localization strategy. It is important for understanding cultural nuances that exist in a market.
This research is about understanding: What people respond to, what they find funny, what they find offensive and rude; how they buy etc.
Research will help you get clear about how best to position your brand to be appealing.
Understanding the competition
New markets are often saturated with competitors all jostling for customers’ attention.
What does this mean for your brand?
It means thoroughly understanding the opportunities that exist in your market, so you can exploit and gain an edge over the competition. A competitor analysis can reveal these opportunities to you.
Catering content to a unique segment
Not all content is created equal. Content should be tailored to a target group for it to be effective. Adjust your content marketing approach accordingly.
You may need to adjust your tone and language, or the story you’re telling to align with people’s values and beliefs.
- and social media
Are the most common ways global businesses communicate with customers.
Your website, for example, is your window to the world. It is the perfect tool to build brand recognition, connect with customers, and sell your offerings.
In this sense, your website functionality, to how the content is structured, including choices around what payment providers to use — should be considered as part of the customer experience.
How did Slack get its Localization strategy right?
Slacks localization strategy is about building trust through the messaging in their app. They did this by using cultural references that are unique to each country ( France, Germany, and Japan), references that communicate respect, humility, and acknowledgment – in each countries’ unique business environment.
The image on the left is the Slack welcome screen, for Japanese users. It means: you’ve done good work, you deserve to rest. The image to the right translates to “ We are here to help”.
As you can see, Slack has gone to great lengths to tailor its app to its users’ cultural norms. Resulting in this strategy being welcomed positively by users.
How did Netflix get its Localization strategy right?
Nine out of every ten people who watched the German Netflix show, Dark, live outside of Germany. According to the company’s viewing data.
It shouldn’t be.
It is quite normal for a company like Netflix to achieve this kind of international viewership for their shows. Netflix got its strategy spot on by allowing viewers, around the world, to choose subtitles in their language of choice, or to choose a dubbed version of their favorite content.
The company has also Localized the app, making the apps navigation and User Interface look and feel very specific to a country that the user lives in.
Afrolingo is a specialist, South African translation and interpretation firm that helps businesses adapt their marketing messages – to specific African cultures – to realize exponential business growth.