The Importance Of Cultural Aspects
In Website Localisation
High-quality website localisation is key to success for every multinational company. We have discussed issues surrounding website translation and localisation in many blogs before (click here), and today we would like to talk specifically about cultural aspects. It is surprising to see that many companies still underestimate the importance of cultural differences in the website translation process – and hence lose business opportunities. See how you can do better by adopting best practices and considering cultural issues in website localisation!
Photos, images, symbols, etc.
Every good website contains not only text, but also pictures, drawings and other design elements. They certainly make websites more attractive, but they can also cause negative reactions in other cultural settings. Let us look at some areas/examples, which can be particularly troublesome:
– Body parts: If a picture on a website shows a woman who wears a strapless top, in many cultures, this will go unnoticed. In other civilisations, however, it will not be appreciated at all. In fact, many parts of the body can carry negative associations in other cultures, which is why images should, for example, not focus too much on feet in certain countries, particularly in Asia.
– Colours and colour combinations: It is very easy to unintentionally make mistakes with colours. If, for example, too many people on a picture wear black clothes, in some cultures this will stir associations of death.
– Animals: Different cultures have different views an all sorts of animals. The pig, for example, stands for good luck and prosperity in some cultures, whilst it is considered impure in other settings.
– Gestures, particularly hand gestures: What is friendly in one country, can easily be interpreted as outright offensive in other civilisations.
It is not possible to provide a full “tick list” to detect any possibly culturally insensitive images, symbols, etc. on websites. But luckily, a quality website localisation service agency can arrange to have the entire website checkedfor suchculturally insensitive issues. One-stop localisation companies can also provide design solutions, for example, when certain images on the website need to be replaced for cultural reasons, or provide filming services to create video clips for each local cultural setting.
Culture-specific product information
Depending on their backgrounds, consumers will look for certain types of information before they make purchase decisions. Companies that understand the culture of their customers and provide transparent product information will increase sales numbers tremendously.
A company that sells food products, for example, can use their website to tell Indian clients if their products are vegetarian, and inform Muslim or Jewish consumers if their products are halal or kosher, respectively.
Another example are animal-derived fashion products, such as leather: While consumers in some countries are fine with all leather types, customers in other countries might have strong aversions against any product with origin from pigs, snakes, rabbits, etc., and will not place an order on a website that does not provide sufficient product information.
Advertising and marketing campaign integration on business websites
Successful international businesses know that they must normally have individual marketing campaigns for different countries rather than going for “one size fits all”. As typically company websites are used to show such campaigns, let us very briefly talk about a few aspects of global marketing and some factors that determine if digital marketing campaigns with relation to your website will be successful or not. Certainly, we cannot go into details, but for everyone who has never thought about advertising campaign localisation, let us look at three points below to give you an idea what we are talking about.
– Since the very beginning of household product commercials, for example for detergents, washing liquids, kitchen equipment, etc., the protagonists have always been women. All of us know such commercials with a “happy ending” in which kids and husband cheer a wife/mother who provides the household with clean clothes, shiny plates and tasty food. Whilst this still “works” in many countries and audiences do not find any fault with such scenes, people in other nations might feel that portraying women like this is no longer acceptable – and hence even boycott the producer in the future.
– In some Asian markets, for example in Thailand, you will often see food commercials, in which a larger group of people simultaneously takes a bite/sip of a food product/drink. This fits very well into Thai culture, in which community is very important. However, to audiences from Western countries, who appreciate individuality and personal freedom, such scenes feel absolutely unnatural, which makes the approachtotally unsuitable for Western markets.
– In countries with a Christian background, autumn/winter is a perfect time for selling basically all B2C goods, as people do Christmas shopping. In other countries, this is not going to work. In some cultures, there are even “black out” seasons, for example the month after Lunar New Year in which Chinese or Vietnamese consumers avoid buying certain articles, such as clothing.
In short: The fact that an advertising or social media campaign works in one country, does by no means mean that it will be successful in other cultural contexts. Seek advice by a reliable localisation service provider to find solutions that work for your campaigns and your website.
Culturally appropriate language
An important aspect of website translation is the right tone. Good linguists will consider various aspects, for example your corporate identity, your prospective customers, your product, etc. and then find a tone/style that suits the culture of the target audience. Only website translation that sounds and feels “right” in the cultural context of your prospective clients will eventually lead to the results you want.
Slogans, jokes, etc.
Dealing with text that is supposed to convey emotions, moods or images rather than specific information, is a particularly challenging aspectin the website localisation process. Slogans, for example, do not normally work in literal translations. The same goes for humorous content on your website. Companies might make remarks that are funny in their cultural setting and convey a sense of closeness to clients, but all of us know that each culture has its own sense of humour, which is why many jokes do not work in translation. For such cases, transcreation can be the right solution.
Let experts help you handle cultural differences in the website localisation process
As you see, it is pretty much impossible to underestimate the importance of cultural aspects in website localisation. Adapting your website to local cultural norms is firstly a sign of respect for your prospective clients, and secondly this cultural awareness will decide if your website will actually bring the results you want. As you can see, you need more than website translation services. You need comprehensive website globalisation solutions that consider cultural diversity among your clients – and elionetwork would be delighted to help you with that.
As a one-stop solution service agency, elionetwork can provide turnkey website localisation solutions for your business. Our multinational in-house team and a huge, global network of external experts with in-depth cultural understandingcomprises linguists, DTP professionals, designers, marketing experts, copywriters, IT engineers, etc. Hand in hand, they have developed tailor-made website localisation solutions that really work in other cultures, and thus helped clients succeed with their global expansion activities. Get in touch with us now to see what we can do for you!