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Learning Like A Local – The Benefits Of Region Specific Websites

From pet grooming to structural engineering, it’s generally accepted that any business worth its salt is going to have some form of online presence…

Although a Yola site and some Comic Sans fonts might (just) pass the bar for Mindy’s Moggy Manicures, it’s not really going to cut it for any business looking to be taken seriously across borders.

When establishing a presence in a new territory and language, most companies are just looking to file the right forms, secure the relevant licences and get their legal status in order. The problem is that once the ink is dry on all the fine print papers, the appetite for audience appropriate marketing has either dwindled or completely left the building. In practise, this means the generic corporate website (if it exists), is translated, given the dreaded stock photo treatment and left to fend for itself.

It’s true that most buyers are more likely to complete purchases if they’re conducted in their own language so translation is obviously a must. However, there’s a lot more to a good (and effective) website localisation than just getting a straight language switch.

If you don’t think doing your homework is necessary, history is awash with amusing and disastrous stories of cultural blunders in marketing:

  • When the US soft drink saleswoman who tried to pitch Fresca in Mexico without realising that ‘Fresca’ was local slang for lesbian;
  • The time Gerber’s baby food labels for the African market made consumers think they were being sold food made from babies;
  • Or when Pepsi lost market share in Asia by changing their vending machines to light blue (a colour of mourning in the region).

It seems humorous now but not covering every angle of regional cultural engagement can have serious brand consequences. There are no shortcuts here – true website localisation means understanding local knowledge of web practise and language to avoid causing offence.

Of course, thorough localisation can be an expensive process so it’s a move best tied into a structured business plan or followed up when a brand starts seeing growing demand from a previously small market. Still, it’s money well spent to avoid going into the annals of branding embarrassment or, worse still, offence.,Cultural+blunders+Brands+gone+wrong.aspx

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