When expanding a business outside national borders, language and cultural differences quickly become barriers between a brand and its new multilingual audience. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some quotes about languages and cultural diversity, highlighting how companies can use a new language to build bridges and generate engagement on global markets.
We like these quotes because they explain the importance of language diversity and, why not, remind us that working with people who speak the local languages and have cultural insight can help overcome cultural barriers. This way, companies build unified global brands that communicate efficiently with multiple cultures and audiences.
Why translation and localization matter
A different language is a different vision of life.
When you go global, it’s not just new languages but new worlds that you’re targeting. People speaking different languages come from multiple cultural backgrounds, which influences their perception of the world, how they consume content, and how they relate to brands.
When building a multilingual content marketing strategy, it’s necessary to consider cultural differences, besides the language barrier. You need to work with language experts and local content creators. They have the required cultural insights to clearly communicate your brand’s message and use references people understand and can relate to.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” ‒Nelson Mandela
With over 1 billion people speaking English as a second language, it can be tempting for a brand to build a global presence using only English to connect with multilingual audiences. But is that enough to build relationships?
Suppose your market research shows that your target audience in a specific country has no problem understanding your messages in English. In this case, translating and localizing your content for local audiences might seem like a waste of resources. However, there’s more to having a local presence than making sure people understand your words.
Your potential customers will like your brand more if you make an effort to speak a language they’re comfortable using.
A survey of more than 8,000 in 29 countries showed that three-quarters of global buyers (76%) continue to prefer products with information in native languages. Many would do so even if the content is of poor quality.
And here’s another interesting number from the same survey: 40% of buyers won’t buy from websites in other languages. It’s an indicator of how much potential revenue you leave on the table when ignoring a local audience’s preferences.
Why you need cultural insight when entering a new market
To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.
— Anthony Robbins
This quote explains the importance of considering cultural differences when translating content for a local audience. Don’t assume that your new public is familiar with your culture and can understand your message when you go for a word-to-word translation. In most cases, it’s more likely the content won’t trigger any emotions or even confuse the audience.
You need cultural insight to tailor your messages to close the gap between your brand voice and what multilingual audiences expect to hear from a global brand. That’s because people with different cultural backgrounds have different values and ways of speaking to each other.
Some topics might just be off-limits in specific cultures or areas, and you need to make sure you eliminate misunderstandings before you push your messages out there. Also, tone and word choices are crucial for the success of your go-to-market strategy. For example, the friendly tone you use in your marketing messages in western cultures might be too bold for a Japanese audience.
Advertising practitioners are interpreters. But unlike foreign language interpreters, adpeople must constantly learn new languages. They must understand the language of each new product, and speak the language of each new target audience.
— Jef I Richards
This quote is enough to highlight the importance of segmentation in marketing and advertising across multiple cultures. Cultural awareness enables you to understand how your message might be received by different audience segments based on their cultural and educational background. Even when they speak the same language, people react differently to a message based on a series of other cultural or geographical factors.
You tailor your message to various audiences in your native language, and you need to replicate the same process for international audiences. Cultural insights enable you to segment multilingual audiences correctly and ensure that every audience gets the right message at the right time to get engagement and eventually sell your products in the new market.
How to build your localization strategy
If you respect a language and culture, it shows in your work.
— A. R. Rahman
The internet abounds with hilarious translations for marketing purposes. Sure, many of the brands that had to handle such situations have survived—some of them also have significant marketing budgets to build back trust with local audiences.
The truth is, you don’t need much to notice poorly translated content, and all translations and localization errors reflect on your brand and can influence customer relationships. You must take time to plan your localization project and implement all steps with attention to detail and the bottom line in mind.
Things can get complicated when hilarious becomes hazardous — you need to translate and localize more than just marketing content when entering a new market. Translating technical or legal documentation must observe rigid rules to comply with local or international laws and regulations. Translation errors can cost your business reputation, resources, or in extreme cases, the ability to sell your products or services in that region.
It’s wise to opt for professional language services and work with local experts to nail your messages right from the start, make an excellent first impression, and build trust with your new audience.
Every act of communication is a miracle of translation.
– Ken Liu
Good translation and localization don’t just happen. The creative process necessary to deliver the same on-brand message to multiple audiences in various languages requires specific knowledge and language skills.
Machine translation can only do so much. AI tools can support your efforts, but they can’t understand context and communication nuances and use that knowledge to deliver content that builds positive emotions and triggers reactions.
India’s linguistic diversity surprises many Westerners, but there are nearly thirty languages in India with at least a million native speakers. There are more native speakers of Tamil on our planet than of Italian. Likewise, more people speak Punjabi than German, Marathi than French, and Bengali than Russian. There are more Telugu speakers than Czech, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Slovak, and Swedish speakers combined.
— Bob Harris
We add this quote to highlight that in-depth market research is necessary to identify the languages to localize for in every new market you target. In this case, too, working with local experts can help you determine when and how much to translate to connect with your audience and get a good return on your investment.
Engaging in too large translation and localization projects can negatively impact performance and drain your budget. Many localization projects fail or don’t bring the anticipated results because companies don’t take the time to analyze what the local audience needs and expects from a brand. In areas where the population speaks multiple languages or dialects, making the right decisions is the difference between a successful global marketing campaign and failure.
If you choose to communicate in local languages, do it the right way to show your respect for your target audiences, their values, and heritage.
Business translation and localization services include more than just word-to-word translations of your existing content. Without cultural awareness, you can’t understand what needs to be different in your communication to close the gap between your global brand and multilingual and multicultural audiences.