5 Effective Ways to Avoid Cultural Mistakes in Localization

February 23, 2022

When you’re a newcomer in the global market, it’s easy to make cultural mistakes. If you have a thought that word translation is enough for customers to understand your content, it’s a wrong approach. In long term, you should pay more attention to some cultural factors than just literal translation. Otherwise, your brand may create an inappropriate or disrespectful image to the native. With that being said, here are some insights and recommendations for a successful adaptation of your product. If you want to eliminate the cultural mistakes in localization, just keep on reading! 

Research and recognize differences

It’s vital to acknowledge that each country has its unique way of doing business and unique culture. Even with countries that share the same language such as the United Kingdom and America, there are still some certain differences. Each country also has its own standard behavior, mannerism, tendencies, and regulations that cannot be overshadowed by globalization. One of the most obvious examples would be the difference in time format of these two English-speaking countries. While the Americans only use AM and PM format to indicate time, British citizens are more familiar with the 24-hour notation. To avoid such basic mistakes, it’s critical to do extensive research before embarking on entering overseas markets. You can generate data on Internet but ensure that those are reliable reports. 

Be aware of symbols and colors

Any image that presents hand gestures or gestures involving other parts of the body should be avoided. In different cultures, one gesture may convey various meanings. For instance, thumps up is a sign of approval or interest in the US, however, in Iran, it shares the same meaning with the middle finger. Color also has very different meanings across many parts of the world. Let’s take the color purple for example. While purple is associated with magic, mystery, and royalty in the State, it is also considered to represent death and mourning in Italy. 

Be careful about clothing

It’s essential to learn about the preference and traditional clothing of the target region. In several cultures, showing too much skin is not acceptable. The style of clothes is also easy to become offensive to the locals. Hence, you may want to ensure that all your clothes-related visuals are adjusted to local customs. 

Use transcreation if necessary

If the source content involves cultural elements, transcreation plays an essential role in each context. You may have to recreate your message to make sure that it’s appropriate and sound natural in the intended context. Transcreation is a combination of translation and creative writing that requires an expert who is fluent and understands the culture of the source and target language. In this process, the original texts might not be translated accurately word by word but to capture the core expression and describe it in other languages. 

Work with well-versed translators

Localization might drain down your budget if you do not do it right from the start. The last tip to avoid cultural mistakes in localization is to initially work with qualified translators who can provide insights into the culture of the target market, not only on the appropriate language to use. Their rate might be unattractive but you certainly don’t want to risk your international reputation just to cut down some costs.   

To conquer the international market, it’s essential to acquire all the information about the target market to avoid typical cultural mistakes in localization. We hope that these mentioned tips above will help you successfully connect with your intended audience.


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