When expanding into new international markets, it can be tempting to merely change the language of your website and marketing materials to match those of your new target market.
But the key to success goes much deeper than a mere translation of existing content into another language. It’s about tailoring your design and aesthetic to match cultural norms in your new country or region of operation.
Translating, and crucially, localizing your website and marketing materials in this way is essential in your bid to gain cultural acceptance. It is bound to help you make the impact you’re hoping for in your new local market.
Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of companies who have already cemented their overseas market positions by executing their translation and localization strategies to perfection. We’ve picked six of the best for you to give you some best practices to follow during your own expansion.
Perhaps the most famous beverage brand globally, Coca-Cola operates in most countries across the globe. Their famous red soda cans are an instantly-recognizable product the world over.
But if you take a look at their local websites compared with their domestic market’s site, not only is the language different, but the entire layout has been altered.
Take a look at their US homepage. You can see that the whole homepage pane is a picture and accompanying text about their policies and initiatives surrounding racial equity, an incredibly pertinent topic in the United States right now.
Note the branding too. All white and black, not the red you associate with this company. The menu items are relatively inconspicuous too. Here, the focus is on sleek and elegant design instead of the traditional Coca-Cola colors since the brand is so ubiquitous in the US.
Now let’s take a look at their homepage for Argentina. As you can see, the whole site looks entirely different for the Latin American market.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference is the prominence of the famous red and white branding, which is in stark contrast to their black and white US homepage. Their overall design is also completely different. For instance, drop-down menu items are distinct and easily distinguishable, and there is a sliding carousel of news stories that are affecting the Argentinian public.
Next, the reference to the Coca-Cola Journey directly references their marketing slogan in the LATAM market, which neatly corroborates the more comprehensive brand messaging within the South American region.
Once again, their home page focuses on issues affecting the country in question. In this case, it points to a local entrepreneur and how Coca-Cola has supported him through the pandemic. Rather than focus on the racial issues dominating American public discourse, this site focuses on local issues such as the difficulty of operations for Argentinians during the pandemic.
If you’re a service offering to teach people how to learn another language, then you better make sure that your website is a leading example in translation and localization! Fortunately for Duolingo, they’ve done a pretty good job.
If you search their other language sites, you’ll notice that the layout remains the same no matter the language. But what about when a language is read and written the other way around? Then it’s time to redesign the site to accommodate those needs.
Here are screenshots of the US homepage, including the footer menu.
Now take a look at the Arabic version of the site.
As you can see, the iconic globe icon has been flipped, with it moving to the right-hand side of the page instead of the left-hand side position it has for most of the supported languages. Note that the logo has switched sides, too, to accommodate the preference to read from right to left.
But the changes don’t stop there. The footer of the menu has also been flipped to accommodate the Arabic right to left reading preferences. Changing the website in this manner is critical when hoping to gain traction in Arabic-speaking countries. Trying to fit in right-to-left text in a left-to-right website design is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided at all costs.
Another internationally recognized brand is the coffee company Nescafé. Drunk the world over, this coffee brand does an excellent job of tailoring their website to their audiences, no matter where they are in the world.
Starting with the American version of their website, the focal image is a candid coffee drinking session amongst friends. While the branded coffee cups are prominent, there is no presence of the products you might see on grocery store shelves.
However, a quick scroll down reveals 12 large “clickable tiles” featuring each of their best-selling coffee products.
However, when you look at the local site for Columbia, a nation famous for its coffee. Their website is entirely different. First and foremost, the site leads with an image referring to a national competition they are running, neatly tying their marketing materials together. Also, note how prominent the products are within the image.
When scrolling down the homepage, the site is even more noticeably different. It’s no mistake that the clickable tiles on the Columbian version of the site focus on sustainability, provenance, history, and the processes involved in making their products.
These changes reflect the populations’ inherent knowledge of coffee and appreciate that much more is required to convince consumers in this region of the quality of Nescafé products. They’ve intelligently understood that merely presenting their products is not enough in a nation that prides itself on its coffee.
One of the most recognizable sports brands in the world is another company that has mastered the art of understanding local audiences and adapting its website to match their preferences. For instance, let’s compare their US homepage with their Japanese counterpart.
As you can see, the US homepage is very product-focused. The featured image is a pair of shoes, and as you scroll down the website, the site is littered with additional apparel items. However, the Japanese site has many subtle differences to enhance performance in this specific market.
Firstly, you’ll notice that the focus is on a different shoe. It’s on their Yeezy shoe, which is even more revered in Asian countries than in America.
Secondly, the website is liberal with the use of Japanese models dressed in Adidas clothing and footwear. The use of Japanese models is crucial for cultural acceptance in this country, making their brand far more relatable.
Also, notice the subtle change in their header menu, which is all black rather than the preferred white in Western cultures. This change makes the site bolder and gives it an “edgier” and more “urban” feel to reflect Japan’s prolific urban landscapes. It’s small, subtle changes such as these that can make a real impact when trying to counter an overseas market.
A similar approach, but this time in reverse, has been taken by one of the world’s leading B2B brands, IBM. The American site leads with a feature video about the upcoming GRAMMYs and demonstrates how their Watson AI product is being used to make sense of fan opinions.
The leading image boxes underneath then focus heavily on the issues affecting companies across America, such as the challenges of moving to the cloud for businesses in traditional industries and how IBM is helping to tackle the problem of the lack of women in leadership positions.
By contrast, the Russian version is much more location and product-focused. For instance, the lead image refers to a local infrastructure summit.
When it comes to the lead content boxes underneath, there are none of the thought leadership pages about so-called “big picture” problems as there are on the US site. Instead, the focus remains on their research, cloud product suite, and an upcoming Moscow convention.
This content aligns with a culture less focused on discussing societal issues such as inclusion and diversity. It is also a reflection of a consumer base interested in seeing how a company is involving itself in local events and initiatives that help empower their nation.
Perhaps the most famous computing company in the world, Microsoft provides us with our final example of getting localization right. Starting with the US version of the site, you can see they have followed a similar path to Coca-Cola because they are also addressing racial equality and inclusion.
Scrolling further down reveals more hints at their commitment to empowerment initiatives such as Women’s History Month.
By contrast, the Vietnamese version of the Microsoft site is very product and solution-focused. Their feature focuses on their headline remote working solution Microsoft Teams. This reflects the increasing trend of Vietnamese workers being employed remotely by companies from Western Europe, the United States, and indeed other Asian countries.
Scrolling down the website shows visitors in Vietnam solutions they might need to understand or implement, such as the Windows 10 update or the Outlook App for iOS or Android, so that they can respond to emails on the move.
There’s no mention of specific devices as there is on the American counterpart. It’s all about educating those customers about using the entire Microsoft ecosystem of products and services, which in turn can help them in the world of work.
Choose Website Translation and Localization Services You Can Trust
Translating a website is hard enough, especially if you don’t read or speak the language yourself. But adjusting your website’s design and content to fit in with sociocultural norms is even more challenging.
That’s why you need to choose a company with an extensive track record of helping companies match cultural values, behaviors, and preferences when translating their online marketing materials (including their website) into another language for an overseas market.
Here at K-International, we can translate your website into 250 languages, taking into account each country’s cultural differences during the process. Our team can work with all leading content management systems to ensure a seamless website transition. We can even supply you with our international SEO services to help your website get off to the best possible start.
Whether you have an e-commerce store that’s about to enter a new market, or you need a company website presence in multiple countries, our international creative design and development team can provide you with the answer.
We also offer other language services including translation of documents, marketing materials and organizational documents, transcription of audio recordings, sub-titling, voice-overs and production of radio adverts, along with telephone/video interpreting support and finally global compliance services for food and non-food products. Whatever your language requirement, we help you talk with the world.
Contact us today to discuss your language service requirements and receive a free, no-obligation quote.