Category: Blog

Localization Strategy

Why A Localization Strategy Matters More Than You Think

These days it’s easier than ever before for businesses to have a global reach – and why not? The world has certainly shrunk, thanks to communications technology and logistics.

But marketing internationally isn’t just about the latest IT software or physical know-how. Much more important is getting the language and culture right so that you can connect with – and appeal to – this new audience. In order to do this getting a good translation service on board is crucial.

One such translation service is Afrolingo. Operating in what has been tipped as the continent to have the largest working population by 2034 (1.1bn – no less). The country is also undergoing rapid urban expansion to the extent that the United Nations predicts the number of Africans living in cities there will reach 187 million by 2026.

Around 50 percent of Africans to have smartphones by 2020

Technology has its grip too. East Africa is a world leader when it comes to the mobile payments industry while although in 2010 just two per cent of Africans were using smart phones, more than half of people living there will own one by 2020, according to the World Economic Forum on Africa. As a result, Africa is definitely a market companies interested in a global influence should ignore at their pearl.

The term localization strategy is one marketers use when they talk about targeting particular areas (or countries, such as Africa). It means getting to understand the consumer habits of the people who live there together with how they think and what makes them tick in general. It means understanding not just the language to a high degree, but also the idioms, slang and alternative meanings of words and phrases. In other words, it’s being with someone who is immersed in the culture and everyday life of your targeted place.

What happens when you don’t have a localization strategy?

We’ve all heard the hilarious, fabled anecdotes about companies, many of them huge multi-nationals, who used their standard marketing strategy – and disaster ensued. There was, for instance, the US beer company Coors who translated its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, which is a colloquial term meaning ‘to have diarrhea’. More shocking still, another US firm – this time Gerber – marketed baby food in Africa with a gorgeous baby on the tin, unbeknownst to them that lack of literacy there at the time meant companies always put a picture of the tin’s contents on the label….

These days, of course, a localization strategy doesn’t just end with the poster, packaging and stapling. No, software, websites and apps are what most companies are focusing on today anyway. If you already have an app don’t think twice about changing its name if it sounds a bit ‘dodgy’ in your new market place.

Think images too. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing the poster of a glamorous American couple with perfect teeth and coiffured hair selling a product in a third world country where the majority of inhabitants are dark-skinned and scraping to get by. Not only can’t your market not show with it, they’ll probably find it galling too. Images can prove offensive to the extent they’re almost illegal. You wouldn’t want to publicise a woman in a bikini in the Middle East where the Muslim faith is for women to be covered, or instance – unless, that is, you happen to be seeking death threats from certain quarters.

SEO and Website content crucially always needs revision

When it comes to SEO, translation is crucial. You’ll definitely have to reconsider your keyword strategy due to the varying meanings of words in different cultures. And it’s not all about Google either; in other countries Yahoo is popular while in Russia and China you’re talking Yandex and Baidu.

Then there is the fact that some languages take up more space than others – something that’s particularly important when it comes to website content. Did you know, for instance, that the French and German languages took up 30 per cent more space than British or American? Nope, we thought not.

There’s the whole price thing too. It’s important to find out what your product or service typically sells for in the country you hope to target. You’re certainly not going to get as much in the Ukraine as you would in California, for instance.

To find out more about how your company can expand into new horizons with a targeted and effective localization strategy then get in touch with AfroLingo today. This South African translation and localization company based in Cape Town specializes in services such as Translation, Software Localization, Mobile Localization and Transcription. Languages covered by AfroLingo include Afrikaans, Swahili, Somali, Zulu, Setswana and Twi, among others. See for more details.

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Mobile Localization

An App at Home – Why Mobile Localization is Imperative

In the world today, everything crosses borders, from news to websites. Apps, mobile phone applications, get shared worldwide in minutes. But there’s a problem: Your app can’t talk to the people you want to use it.


The Limited App

The fastest way to let your app, and all the hard work that went into it, wither on the vine is to only have you app available in just one language. You might not care if the language that it’s in is a large one, like English, Arabic, or Mandarin, but if you wrote your app in a less widespread language, you might be limiting your reach.

Getting your app translated into multiple languages can increase your market and your market share. You might be able to grow your market from a few million to a few billion just by adding new languages.


Localization vs. Translation

Localization is a term that is more precise for the needs of an app designer. By having your app localized, it is able to appear native. Cultural references can be adjusted, every item on the app can become part of the new locale, and the app will feel more comfortable to the end users.

Translation, as in the kind that is often done by machines, doesn’t offer the subtlety that a native speaker is able to bring to the project. It’s not just words, but the feel and structure of an app that might need  to be adjusted and addresses. For example, if the language changes from a left to right to a right to left language, there might be structural changes that need to be addressed to make the app feel natural.


How to Get Your App Localized

The trick to getting your app translated, or localized, is having a professional how can make each part of the app appear native. While it’s rarely evident after all the work is done, there are dozens of error screens, small bits of text and other places where the language and structure needs to be addressed and corrected.

Firstly, don’t use a machine to translate your app. While this might seem simple and inexpensive, a machine is not going to be able to handle all of the structural changes that are needed to make the native and natural.

Secondly, you will want to look for a localization company with experience and  with the native translators and staff to be able to ensure that every aspect of your app is perfect. You need a team that won’t need a lot of direction and can handle making decisions well.

One important aspect is to make sure that your localization project has and experienced project manager. This will be the person who oversees your project to ensure that each element is handled in a timely and efficient manner. This single point of contact and responsibility will make your project run more smoothly and cleanly.

Localization is an important part of getting your app into more hands and creating an empire. The key to the process is to find a team that is able to keep your app looking and functioning will in every regional and locale.

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Desktop Publishing

Desktop Publishing – Making Your Ideas Shine

You see it every day, but you probably don’t think about it. There are literally millions of items in the world that have been created with desktop publishing (DTP). Flyers, brochures, business cards, advertisements, you name it, it’s created with desktop publishing.


What Desktop Publishing Means to a Business?

A professional designer can create DTP items that are amazing. They work with images, text, and layouts that allow you to simply print the item out and it’s look amazing.

Not so long ago, to have anything created and printed meant that you had to hire a team. A designer would create it. A layout person would set it up. A printer would prepare it for offset printing. It was expensive and time consuming.

Today, a professional designer can use powerful programs and knowledge to create these same items in days, even hours, and have them delivered to you digitally. From there, you can simply hit print on the item and print out right in your office.

There are several reasons that the power of DTP is amazing for your company:


  1. Cost – Hiring a professional designer to DTP is relatively cheap. It requires that you just know a bit of what you want and hire the right person. What used to take a team weeks can now be done by one person for a fraction of the cost.
  2. Responsiveness – If the market or your situation demands, a DTP designer can create something for you that is timely and still very professional-looking. If the local football team wins a championship, a local school gets an award, or a local celebrity gets the big movie role, you are able to have marketing materials that capitalize on the news of the day.
  3. Professional – Rather than having something that looks like you put it together on your computer, you can hire a professional to design something that looks amazing and will impress everyone who sees it.
  4. Translation – At AfroLingo, we are also able to make sure that your words are translated well. Because our translators are native speakers, they are able to make sure that cultural references will hit the mark along with language that is perfectly translated.


Types of items that be created with DTP

There are literally hundreds of items that can be created. Here’s a partial list: 

  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Ads
  • Logos
  • Business cards
  • Letterhead
  • Catalogs
  • Directories
  • Books
  • E-books
  • Presentations
  • Resumes
  • Proposals
  • Labels
  • Banners
  • Greeting cards
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Make Me Comfortable – Making Your Software Localized

The world runs on software. Everything from our telephones to our homes run on software. If your software is to be used by individuals or companies, you need to have it made local so that everyone who uses it feels right at home.

What is localization?

Localization is the concept of converting a piece of software from one language and region to another.

Wikipedia defines it this way, “In computing, internationalization and localization are means of adapting computer software to different languages, regional differences and technical requirements of a target market (locale).”

his definition speaks to the importance of adapting your software to each new language. It’s more than just language though. There is also culture and tone. These might seem like minor shifts, they are important if you’re the person receiving the software.

One of the most obvious examples is the difference between American English and British English. If you tell an American to put the box in the lorrey they will stand and stare at you. In the US, they are known as trucks.

A machine translation might or might not spot these differences, but a native speaker will spot them a kilometer (or kilometre or mile) away.

Finding the right localization team

There are several steps to finding the right localization team:

  • Look for experience – Every day, a new company enters the field. They come in two types: The kind trying to make quick money and the kind that are made up of professionals. Look for the team that has experience, regardless of the age of the firm that they work for.
  • A technical team – You will want a company that has a technical team that can understand all of the ins and outs of your software. They need to be able to find everything, from the main page to the error pages to the smallest page in your help files.
  • Native translators – Native translators are the people who make sure that your software “goes native”. They can make sure that your software looks like it was written next door not on the other side of the country.

What to expect

The most important person for your needs is the project manager. This is a person who will assemble and guide the team that is localizing your software. They should speak both languages and understand the process. They don’t need to be programmers, but they should have a really clear sense of what your software does and what changes will need to be made.

The next thing you need is a plan. The company should provide you with a step-by-step plan. This will be the guide for what to expect.

Finally, expect to be a bit flexible. Nothing ever goes perfectly, so plan accordingly. Make sure, especially if your software is your ‘baby’ that you understand this simple idea. Otherwise, you might find the entire process far more stressful than you need it to be.

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Transcription Services

Why a Transcription Service is Vital to Your Business

Put the Words on the Page – Why a Transcription Service is Vital to Your Business

According the Abrahamic faiths, there was a time when all humans spoke the same language. When everyone got together to build a tower that could reach Heaven, God got quite upset and made it so that we can’t easily speak to each other.

That’s what a transcription service can do; they can make it so that everyone who needs to hear a speech or video can read it at their leisure. And if they all speak different languages, the document can be provided in their native tongue.

What does a transcription service do?

You know that amazing speech that the CEO gave last month? Or that video that you need to include into a printed document? A transcription service can convert the spoken words into written words so that you can use them anywhere you want.

At some firms, and AfroLingo is one of them, not only can they transcribe the document, but they can also translate it. This makes it much easier for you to share the transcription across borders.

The international Factor

The world has gone international. Very few things stay inside of a single nation’s or a single languages borders. That means that everything you do will be seen and read by people from all over the world.

Let a transcriptionist convert your how-to video into text. This can them be translated so that you can reach even more people. Getting a transcription and a translation firm together makes this process even easier.

The uses and needs for transcription services

Here are just a few of the modern situations where you might want a transcription service:

  • User’s guide videos – Providing a written version of your helpful videos will make it easier for people to follow along and learn what you are hoping to teach.
  • Corporate training videos – Some folks don’t retain what they see as well as they retain what they read. Transcription is a perfect way to help this group to learn better.
  • Speeches and conferences – In all likelihood, you paid a great deal of money to your keynote speaker. They were great. Now is the time to make a permanent record of that speech by having it transcribed and distributing it to your staff and, as a bonus, to your clients.

A truly experienced transcription service can make your life much easier and help you make more money. They can also help to create even more loyal customers.

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Hiring Technical Translator

Technical Translator-The Right Words in the Right Hands

Hiring a Technical Translator – The Right Words in the Right Hands

In many cases, people think of translators as someone who can simply translate any words, from one language to another. In some cases, this is true. When translating a short story or a personal letter, a generalist translator can be perfectly fine for the project. If, however, a document is highly technical, it can require a subject matter expert to ensure that every word is correctly translated and understood.

Technical and Consumer Electronics Translation

Nearly all of us have purchased an electronic device that was made in a foreign land. When we open the user’s manual, we found that the translation made no sense. Usually, the manual or guide will sound like it has been simply transliterated and many of the words don’t make sense together or the sentence structure is incorrect.

The way to avoid this is hire a translation company that uses in-country linguists who are subject matter experts and able to understand the proper phrases and lingo when translating the documents that accompany a consumer electronic device or a technical document.

Financial, legal, and corporate

There are only a few industries where a mistranslated word can cost million of dollars. In financial, legal, and corporate documents, a single phrase can cost millions. Even worse, a mistranslated phrase or concept might lead to years of very expensive legal conflicts as the parties try to figure out what happened and how to make it right.

The best way to avoid this situation is have an in-country translator who is a native speaker, as well as trained in the specific subject involved. These experts are able to understand the jargon of the financial and legal industries, as well as translate corporate documents to make sure every subtlety is explained properly.

Medical translation

Above all of these industries is the medical industry. A mistranslation in this field can lead to injury or death. Imagine that someone mistranslated and simply transposes right with left. Someone might end up losing the wrong leg or hand.

This is easily the most important place for a translation firm that offers several safety valves:

  • A project manager who is a subject matter specialist
  • Translators who are in-country and experienced in the subject
  • Machine translation that acts as a reference and starting point for translations
  • A multi-step verification system that assures proper translation

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at AfroLingo. Even if you don’t choose us, we are happy to advise and guide you to make sure that you get the technical translation services.

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Handle Business Language Problem

The Right Firm To Handle Your Business Language Problems

There are thousands of translation firms in the world. Many of them are excellent; we won’t lie to you about that. In fact, we work for many of them as subcontractors when they need something translated into or out of an African language.

AfroLingo – The Complete Solution

Just for today, we’re going to use this space to tout our strengths and make a bit of commercial. We want to list for you the skills we offer and what they might mean for your business.

The Languages

Firstly, the languages that we translate to and from:

  • Afrikaans
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • English
  • Farsi
  • Hausa
  • Hebrew
  • Igbo
  • Kinyarwanda
  • Ndebele
  • Sesotho
  • Setswana
  • Shona
  • Somali
  • Swahili
  • Tigrinya
  • Tshivenda
  • Tsonga
  • Twi
  • Urdu
  • Xhosa
  • Yoruba
  • Zulu

We offer a variety of services in all of these languages:

Desktop Publishing – By combining our language skills and our desktop publishing skills, we can create advertisements, marketing materials, and much more that are culturally specific.

Software localization – Making your software work all over Africa requires more than just language translation. Everything need to fit the culture and the people that you are attempting to sell your product to. This requires an understanding of software, native programmers and translators, and the ability to understand a myriad of cultures on the great continent of Africa.

App localization – The phones that are in everyone’s hands run on apps. If you app doesn’t speak directly to the cultures that you are attempting to share them with, they will never get off the ground. We can take your app and make it look it was designed next door.

Website localization – The internet is everywhere and that means that you have potential customers everywhere. We will make your website look like it belongs in the culture and the language that you are working in, not just translate the words.

Translation – To and from the languages that are listed above, we can provide translations, both written and oral. We have a team of native speakers who will make sure that every word is correct. They can translate written works or do live oral translations as well.

Transcription – Whether your work is audio or video, we can take the language and put it on paper. We can transcribe from a local language and translate it to an international language, if you need.

Engineering, legal and medical – These fields have their own jargon that needs to clearly understood by the recipient. If not, people can be hurt or worse. We have the staff that is familiar with the languages and the specialty to make sure that you have the translation that you need and that it’s 100% accurate.

Project Managers

Our project managers are the key to our success. They are the first person to see your project and the last person to approve your work. They understand every aspect of the project and can ensure that everything is perfect long before it gets to your desk.

AfroLingo has everything any firm needs to be able to operate in Africa. From native speakers to technical specialists to project managers, we can supply you with whatever you need.

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Localization Website

Website Localization – The Doorway To The Rest of The World

Anyone with a website and a webmaster account, such as the ones provided by Google, can see that people login form everywhere on the planet.

How do you handle this influx to make sure that your business and your website are well represented well? Website localization.

What Is Website Localization?

The definition supplied by Wikipedia is probably the best around:

Website localization is the process of adapting an existing website to local language and culture in the target market. It is the process of adapting a website into a different linguistic and cultural context— involving much more than the simple translation of text. This modification process must reflect specific language and cultural preferences in the content, images and overall design and requirements of the site – all while maintaining the integrity of the website. Culturally adapted web sites reduce the amount of required cognitive efforts from visitors of the site to process information, making navigation easier and attitudes toward the web site more favorable.” (1)

This explanation is very telling.

“Adapting a website.. To local language and culture…” This is important. The definition goes on to say that the the work involves much more than simply translation. It requires and understanding of the target culture and an understanding of the priorities in that culture.

AfroLingo and Website Localization

In violation of the rule that says ‘don’t write a blog that is about your business”, we need to use ourselves as an example of how proper website localization is done.

African has over 1000 languages and our firm can do localization in over a dozen of those. We start with the most obvious question, “Can we do this for you?” We don’t work in Mandarin. Unfortunately, we would need to tell that if you called us, but if you want your site to work in Swaziland, we can help you. The languages there are Swati, English, and South African English.

That’s the start.

Next we assign a project manager. They will gather a team of language translators, programmers, designers, and others to do the work together.

Then we start working on changing your entire website.

  • Language
  • Images
  • Headers
  • Fonts
  • Colors
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Error pages
  • Help pages
  • Sign up and cart options
  • Much, much more.

All of this is to make sure that anything that a customer might see in, in this example, Swaziland, looks like it was made just for them.

The look and feel of your website will change. It might not be obvious to someone from that country, unless you don’t do it well.

Consider Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognizable brand and said to be one of the few things you can find in almost every corner of the world.

Here is the Coca-Cola France

Here is the Coca-Cola site Botswana

It might seem strange, but the first thing that you’ll notice is that the images are different. The Botswana website images better reflect the people who might look at the site from Botswana.

Those images are different from the American site, even though both Botswana and the US are in English. And the motto in Botswana is “Taste the Feeling”, but the American site doesn’t say that anywhere.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

Simply put, you need to localize your website to fit the language and culture that you are entering. Translation is not enough, which means that trusting your website to a browser translator is not good enough. Change it to fit the customers you hope to gain.

Just for laughs…

Sometimes, even translation is not done well.

When Pepsi translated its slogan, “Come alive with Pepsi,” into Chinese, it didn’t go well. It came out as, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead”. Creepy!


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Human Translation vs Machine Translation

The Human Touch – Human Translation Vs. Machine Translation

It’s amazing, isn’t it? Google Translate can be installed onto your browser and with the push of a button, any website, document, anything can be translated. But not very well…

The truth is that human language, even written language, is filled with nuances and details that a machine is not likely to catch. These are the times that you need a human translator.

Machine Translations: Strengths, Weaknesses, And Uses

The use of computers to translate documents and webpages started very early in the life of these amazing machines. Today, it has evolved into a massive business and provides free and paid translations billions of times each day.

When you click on a website, your browser will often translate it automatically. This power is amazing and allows us to read and see what people all over the world are seeing every day.

Machine translations, even for a professional translation company, can be a starting point. It’s the place where the translator can begin the process of looking at what you’re trying to say and help you say it.

As mentioned above, though, it has it’s weaknesses. While it might be fine for reading the day’s news in Russia or China or South Africa, it shouldn’t be trusted with business contracts, marketing materials, and other places where lack of precision can cost you a lot of money.

Human Translation: Strengths, Weaknesses, And Uses

Human translation is done by someone taking a source material and converting it to a new language. This is usually done by a professional translator who has been trained and practiced in doing language to language translations well and efficiently.

The biggest weakness is that most of us can’t afford to have a translator on call 24 hours a day. If you are a world leader and someone from another country calls, there will often be a translator in between. Those people and that service are available all the time. For the rest of us, we need to plan ahead a bit.

A human translator can take a document, a recorded speech, or even a live event and translate it well. They are able to see beyond the strict meaning of words to introduce nuances and cultural differences that a machine is hard pressed to understand.

Why Not Both?

At AfroLingo, we don’t see machine translation as another example of machines taking the place of humans. We see these wonderful tools for what they are: tools to make our work easier and maybe even a bit better. Nonetheless, no piece of translated work leaves our offices without being reviewed for accuracy by a trained translator and a project manager. No professional translation company should allow machine translation be all they do either.

Machines and humans can work to bridge language barriers and open up the world to everyone, together.

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Technical translator

The Land Of Many Tongues – Finding The Right Translator

Here is a short, concise, step-by-step guide to finding a translator to meet your needs.


1- Clearly define what you need translated. The skills needed to translate a document are very different from the ones that are needed to live translate a speech. Be very clear on your needs, the size of the project, and what you expect the final results to look or sound like.

2- Set a timeline that meets your needs. If you have no urgent need, that’s fine, but put a final date on it. This will make sure that everyone has a guideline for what you need and when.

3- Look for a firm with native translators. This means that you want someone who lives in the target culture and speaks the target language every day. Someone who learned French from a book speaks a very different form of the language than someone who lives in the Pyrenees or the Central African Republic.

4- Ask for a plan. You should be provided with a plan on how the translation will happen. For example, most translation firms will use some form of machine translation for the initial work. This is a great way to speed the process, but it should be followed by having a human translator review everything. Subtleties, nuances and local vernacular are all different from country  to country.

5- Ask for a project manager. If you’re having a single page translated, this might not be important, but if your project is to have a piece of software localized or have a corporate annual report translated, you will want a single point of contact that will take care of everything for you. This should be the person that you deal with. They should be able to speak to you clearly and easily.

6- Look for progress reports. Again, if there is only a single page being translated, you won’t need it, but a project of any size should have progress reports. This will allow you to see what’s happening on your project each week or so.

7- Satisfaction guarantee is a requirement. If the translation is all wrong or it’s delivered three days after you needed it done, you should be able to have a money-back guarantee. This is something that should simply be part of the company’s culture.


These are simple steps, but by using them you should do well finding a translator that you will have a great experience with. The actual locating part is a matter of using google and putting in “translation” and the languages you are translating to and from. Look for firm that is in or near the nation where your target language is spoken.

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