Any marketer has encountered a task at least once presenting a company to a foreign market. This is something we do on a daily basis in order to achieve our main goal – maintaining the success of the company we work for and discovering new horizons for its products and services. For me, it’s like the start of a journey to a foreign country – you do research, sink into its culture and then decide how to best approach it. Let’s discover Asia, which is similar to a colorful quilt – a mix of patches and patches of cultures, beliefs, technologies, and traditions all mingled into one but hardly fitting under a single profile.
The Strategic approach
Based on all we know, we prepare the strategy we’ll use to approach the market and plan it all out to the smallest details. Somewhere on the way, we become aware of the linguistic & cultural differences between the two worlds. We know that the right approach is to reach the audience in its local language. Because of this, we reach out to a professional who does the translation and preparation of all the small pieces of our marketing puzzle for the relevant market. It is here where we stumble upon the first matter to solve:
Translation, Localization or something else?
Choosing the right way to transmit a message to your audience is essential for your company. That is why a mere translation is sometimes not enough. An experienced professional should be able to advise you on exactly what you need. Choosing the right service for the right end product is the first and most important step.
A Case Study from experience
You’ve probably seen the idioms in our website and Social Media and they look pretty simple to prepare, right? It’s not the case. The meaning of every single idiom or Asian expression that we use is carefully researched as it’s the part of a translation that is often intangible and untranslatable. The message that lies beyond an idiom is what gives that local feeling and recognition of you being part of the culture. If you’re able to grasp the meaning and use the words appropriately, it is much more likely that your potential clients will have an easier time trusting you.
The nightmare of a good marketing material
Idioms – you read some interesting phrases on the Internet and you get glorious ideas how you’ll get to use them. They’ll look great with a bit of design and a few touches here and there. But being Asian experts, posting something like that requires a thorough check in advance. If there’s a mistake (even a single one) any local person or anyone familiar with the language will see it. The thing is, Asian languages use so many subtle shifts in speech and hierarchy that a lot of the time there are at least a few possible meanings and if you are not careful enough, your message can be easily misinterpreted.
Local language – If the idiom or saying is Korean in origin, there’s no better way to show it than having it written in Korean. Asian characters are such a wonderful, exotic mixture of symbols and lines that they just sparkle with elegance when used properly. Right! You have to make sure the words and combinations of symbols are the proper ones – as much as Machine Translation is improving, you can’t rely on Google Translate to do the work perfectly.
Proper fonts – it’s great to use a curvy, artistic font that looks like it’s been painted with a brush and matches the way that Japanese is written but guess what? Some fonts are not suitable for or compatible with Asian languages, so one should which fonts should be used for a certain language.
Layout and design – one thing I’ve noticed is that the various Asian countries have differing perceptions of layout and design. A layout I’d consider neat and tidy won’t be accepted as such in Thailand, for example. Symbols are interspersed in design in different ways, and subtle changes in shape can make a design look like a spa-studio to a Thai audience instead of the desired corporate look for a law firm they wanted to achieve.
The problems you’ll face
An idiom in Korean might have a few subtle variants and it all depends on the readers and their individual interpretation.
A linguist will read the text in order to proofread it but that doesn’t necessarily mean that if something is wrong with the font, it’ll be noticed and corrected.
Proper DTP (Desktop Publishing) is always a must during localization, as experts can adjust subtleties that we and non-native speakers wouldn’t even be aware of.
The right formula to success
- Extensive research on the culture and languages of Asia
- A trustworthy translation partner
- An expert native linguist to localize your content
- A creative designer that understands the preferences of Asian audiences and localizes the design accordingly.
- A DTP expert with specific knowledge on Asian languages and the fonts/layout patterns that are commonly used for them
Voila! Your marketing nightmare is over!