Localization: drawing inspiration from Stranger Things

Localization: drawing inspiration from Stranger Things

If you haven’t heard of the science fiction-horror series that is Stranger Things, where have you been? The Netflix show is set in a fictional town in Indiana in the 1980s. It follows a group of kids who find themselves in trouble after befriending a psychokinetic girl who has escaped from a sinister government agency and claims to know the whereabouts of their missing friend. Oh and it’s probably important to mention that the place they call home also just so happens to be some sort of portal to a frightful place filled with insidious creatures called ‘The Upside Down’.

It is this group of spunky school kids who are the backbone of the show, working together to battle the malevolent supernatural forces that have converged on their humble town.

When taking your brand global, you probably won’t encounter any ominous creatures but that doesn’t mean your endeavors won’t be without any challenges. Here’s how you can draw a little inspiration from a few of the TV series’ main characters:

Don’t go missing like Will

In the very first episode of Stranger Things, Will Byers disappears after encountering a monster. His disappearance actually forms the basis for much of the series. If you’re a business and you’re interested in making an international mark, you do not want your messages to “go missing” like Will Byers. If you think that you can just take your marketing plan from one region and use it in another, you’re mistaken. You’ll need to adapt your product offerings, marketing strategies, pricing and sales channels to match the needs and cultural nuances of consumers living in each region.

It’s okay to be cautious like Lucas

Being cautious is a good thing. In the beginning, Lucas was quite wary of the strange girl they found in the woods with the shaven head. It’s only after getting to know Eleven a bit, and understanding her better, that he really warms up to her. When taking a business to new markets, it’s best to do research so that you can make the most informed decisions. Marketers have a wealth of data at their disposal, which they can use to better understand their new customers. If you’re entering a region that favors Facebook, for example, it’d be silly not to use this fact to your advantage. It’s all comes down to doing your homework.

Be loyal like Mike

One of the best ways to promote loyalty is to be loyal. Localization is a great way to build a relationship with customers, and ultimately build loyalty. By taking the time to show your new customers that you care enough about them to tailor your offerings and content to speak to them specifically, you’re showing them that your intentions go beyond just making money. In the same way that Mike constantly shows his commitment to his friends, ensuring that your marketing messages are delivered in your customer’s’ native language shows them that your businesses is really interested in cementing a solid relationship with them and establishing a lasting presence in that region.

Use your words like Dustin

Dustin is the cute kid with the lisp. A lisp may be endearing on chubby-cheeked, curly haired adolescent but a brand looking to enter new markets can’t afford any miscommunication faux pas. Just ask Gerber, a Nestle-owned seller of baby foods. When the brand first entered Africa they made a rather embarrassing marketing mistake. Using the same packaging they employ in the US, Gerber shipped its products to Africa with the standard baby face on the label. They soon learned that low literacy rates across the continent mean that many African companies opt to put pictures of the foodstuff inside the tin or jar on the label.

Partner up with the right people like Eleven

When Eleven escapes from the covert government facility, where she is being kept as a lab experiment, she finds herself in a world she knows nothing about. Without the help of Mike, Lucas and Dustin, she probably would’ve struggled a lot more than she did. When you take your business to new markets, you’re likely experience a similar sense of trepidation. And it’s just as important for your business to partner with people who can make your transition into this new territory as smooth as possible. Local partners understand the people, the culture and the intricacies of doing business in that region. They should be seen as credible advisors. They have a wealth of information that can help you make the most strategic decisions.

At Rubric, we offer all the localization and translation services you need to ensure that your international marketing efforts always deliver the right message. Download our Marketing Messaging Guide for more insights into how you can achieve global expansion success.

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Different localization options

Different localization options

The aim of any localization project should be to make people feel like you really understand them. And this goes beyond using the necessary words and speaking the right language.  Successful translation and localization also hinges on tapping into cultural nuances and consumer preferences to ensure that the tone, imagery, color palette, layout and tempo of the content aligns with accepted practices and trends in that region.

Just as localization is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing, there are a number of ways that one can actually localize.

We believe that global success is dependent on delighting your clients. And we have the tools and expertise to help you do just that.

Here are a few of the different ways we can help you localize:

Website localization

Visiting your website will likely be the first time a new customer is exposed to your brand. As such, your website serves as an introduction to who you are and what you do. Aligning your website with your target market boosts global expansion efforts, improves customer relationships and, ultimately, increases your bottom line. We’ll run a cultural and technological assessment to ensure that your web presence maximizes the allure of your offerings and that your site supports foreign characters and browser/technology preferences, among other things. Graphics should also be tailored to suit each region’s unique traditions and culture.

Software localization

A common mistake when localizing software occurs when a business relies on random testing. The downfall of this strategy is that one element of the program is tested several times and problems can remain hidden and could lead to greater issues at a later stage.

At Rubric, our translators will conduct linguistic testing to identify any character corruption or clipped labels. We’ll remedy glitches so that the software isn’t affected – eliminating any technical issues further down the line. Software localization should involve changing structural elements of the user interface, ensuring software guides contain consistent terminology and that accompanying documents are also localized appropriately.

Multimedia localization

A Japanese explainer video will fall flat in Spain and a South American-inspired commercial will likely pack less punch in the UK. Multimedia localization refers to the translation and internationalization of any multimedia material, such as images, audio and video content. Things like voice dubbing, subtitles and transcript translations will ensure that the language and cultural intricacies of the content are appropriate and appeal to your target audience.

Desktop publishing localization

Basically, this type of localization entails editing and translating any printed material such as books, magazines and manuals. There is little point in taking your products and services to another country and then not offering the necessary product information and outlines to those customers in their native language.      

When selecting a localization company to help with your global expansion, ensure that you partner up with someone who provides a holistic localization offering. We’ve worked with many a brand and business to ensure their localization efforts are effective and successful. Take a look at this Amway Case study, for an example of how we get things done.

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Why even the biggest brands can’t afford a localization faux pas

Why even the biggest brands can’t afford a localization faux pas

A cut and paste approach to global marketing simply doesn’t work. Just because a product or service is a hit in one region doesn’t mean it’ll enjoy similar success in other locations.

Take China, for example.

China may be the world’s second largest economy but it has always struggled to expand into foreign territories. Chinese companies commonly fail to effectively localize their brands and offerings to cater to the preferences and cultural structures of consumers in different markets.

To put China’s struggles to make an international mark in context, a 2014 survey by Millward Brown found that only 22% of consumers outside of China could actually recognize a Chinese brand. Similarly, the 2015 Interbrand Best Global Brands list only featured one Chinese name – telecom equipment and smartphone maker,  Huawei, which ranked 94th.

The power of perception

One of the biggest problems lies with perceptions. Many consumers have negative associations with items labeled “Made in China”, perceiving them to be poorly made or cheap imitations of better quality products. But the reality is that much of the global manufacturing industry is located in China and many of the brands we use everyday  – such as Samsung and Apple – actually outsource a lot of their manufacturing to Chinese firms.  

Failing to properly test the waters

It isn’t just Chinese brands that have failed to localize their offerings effectively; Western brands often struggle to meet the needs of Chinese consumers too. Take Google, for example, a massively successful company across the globe that has failed to find success on Chinese shores. It may be tough to believe that the search engine giant would falter anywhere but Chinese consumers typically favor domestic companies, such as Baidu and Alibaba.  

The problem with playing pretend

While localization is important, it would be foolish for a brand to pretend that they’re from one location, when they’re actually from somewhere else. Many Chinese brands who set out with global expansion in mind, masquerade as foreign companies to seem more credible and upscale. La Chapelle, Marisfrolg and Metersbonwe are all Chinese fashion brands that have chosen rather ambiguous names because they wanted to sound more Western.

Understanding your customer

Companies entering new markets need to consider two things – a location’s unique legal, regulatory and governmental environment and the different consumer preferences of the people living in that region. Many Chinese companies neglect to do adequate market research before entering foreign markets and have suffered both tangible and intangible losses. One of the essentials to globalization and product localization success is having locals on the ground who have extensive knowledge of the market and of customer preferences. Often, Chinese firms adopt a centralized approach with all decisions being made by senior management somewhere in China. Removing the freedom and autonomy from local staff hinders them from leveraging their knowledge of the region to make smarter decisions.

The reality is that even the best product or service from the most successful company could fail when making an international move. This makes it ever more important to partner with the right translation and localization services provider to ensure that you have a proper understanding of customer needs and market expectations. Want to better ensure that your messages are always appropriate for your target audience? Download our Marketing Messaging Guide to find out more.

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What you can learn from e e cummings

What you can learn from e e cummings

a great




Tall as the truth was who; and

wore his

… life

like a …


The above is a poem written by e e cummings (not E E Cummings). Cummings was an American poet, playwright and artist who was famous for denouncing accepted grammar, sentence structure and spelling.

He used verbs as nouns and played around with punctuation and capitalization. Despite this rebellion against the status quo, cummings enjoyed a very successful career and was described as the ‘eminent voice of 20th century literature’.

And today he would’ve turned 122.

While cummings’ battles against convention may have resulted in the creation of some pretty prolific poetry, it also aided him in establishing a very memorable persona. But just because Cummings could get away with an eclectic approach to spelling and grammar, doesn’t mean that your business can adopt a similar approach.

Studies show that just one spelling error on a website can halve a company’s online sales. Spelling mistakes can account for thousands of dollars worth of lost revenue. Incorrect sentence structure and sloppy spelling put off customers and can cause them to question the website’s credibility. And it’s not just spelling that people notice, it’s grammar too.

Here are a few techniques you can implement to keep silly errors to a minimum:

Don’t just rely on built-in spelling and grammar checks

Spell check programs may pick up obvious faux pas but that doesn’t mean that they’ll catch all your mistakes. They also tend to have a rather limited dictionary, meaning that certain words, which are actually spelled correctly, will be flagged as incorrect. Especially when one considers that new words are constantly being added to the dictionary. Basically, a spell check is a great starting point, but this doesn’t mean that a stringent read through is not required.   

Map mistakes to prevent errors in the future

Most writers will have specific words that become a part of their writing style or they may struggle with the spelling of certain words. It can be handy to make lists of common mistakes so that writers can refer to the list when they are trying to decide if something has or hasn’t been written correctly. ‘Their’, ‘there and ‘they’re’ tend to get muddled up, so adding advice on how to avoid these tricky typos can make everyone’s jobs easier.

When you proofread, do it later

Before you publish something or hit send on that important customer email, wait a moment, walk away and then come back and proofread the content one more time. Waiting some time between writing the content and editing it generally means that you’ll be better at spotting errors. When you write something and immediately proofread it, you’re likely to rush through and miss things because the copy is still fresh in your mind.  

While ee cummings may have made a name for himself by leaving out capital letters and commas, you don’t want bad spelling and grammar to be something your business is known for. Partnering with an expert document translation services is a great way to ensure your content is error free. Contact us for more information about our services.

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[SlideShare] Product Localization vs Product Globalization

[SlideShare] Product Localization vs Product Globalization

The allure of entering a brand new market has seen Ikea set up shop in Shanghai, Zara open its doors in South Africa and McDonald’s sell burgers on every single continent bar Antarctica. These brands owe their successful global expansion not to product globalization, but to product localization. But before you set your sights on greener pastures, you’ll need to decide how to tailor your business and your product offering to meet the unique needs and preferences of new markets. Click through to find out some of the best ways to adapt your product to a new market.

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