Trello’s unconventional approach to localization

Trello’s unconventional approach to localization

Going international can be intimidating. And few companies truly get it right.

In 2015, Trello, a web-based workplace productivity tool, started noticing extensive growth across international markets. At the time, some 75% of their traffic and 45% of their revenue was generated outside the US. In response to their growing popularity, they opted to expand their offering to better cater to users across the globe.

As Trello looked to upscale their platform – which is free to most users – they faced a major problem around cost. Hiring countless professionals to translate Trello into more than 20 different languages was simply too expensive and they were yet to see how localizing their platform would impact bottom line.

Testing the translation and localization waters

According to Trello’s International Marketing Lead, Alexia Ohannessian, they initially launched localization tests in three strategic countries – Brazil, Germany and Spain. The product was localized using professional translation services. “After this first experiment, there was no question that localization could work for Trello,” says Ohannessian. So they further tested a localized approach in France. But this time they decided to do what they do best – collaborate.

Trello rounded up a group of user volunteers to assist in translating the platform into French and they successfully did so in just one month. Understandably, there were a few errors but Trello found that the translations were more in line with their brand. Being seasoned Trello users, the translators were pretty familiar with the look and feel of the product itself. Using their crowdsourcing success in France as a starting point, Trello set its sights on other regions. And in four months, 520 volunteers changed 47 000 words into 20 different languages and localized versions of Trello were introduced in countries around the world.

“We definitely had some concerns before deciding to try crowdsourcing. Mainly, we wondered about the quality of professional translation compared to crowdsourcing, as well as the speed with which we could get things done,” says VP of Marketing at Trello, Stella Garber. “Beyond the significant cost savings, it was also a great way to get our user base involved in the evolution of a product they really loved using.”

Localization and translation lessons

Trello’s decision to tackle international markets came about after conversations with local users in different markets – mainly about their struggles. For Garber, the move to launch internationally presented various technical and marketing challenges.

Here are a few things they learned along the way:

Talk to your users: Trello sent surveys to users from different countries to learn more about their Trello experiences. This information revealed interesting insights around the similarities and differences across regions.

Internationalize by country, not by language: Marketing should be done on a country-by-country basis, not a language basis. While languages may be similar between nations, tapping into the unique cultural nuances of users was essential to offer a more personalized platform.

Local relationships are key: Trello opted to crowdsource because they acknowledged how important it is to connect to the right people in each country. Having a good relationship with local users also made it easier to spread the word about the localization of Trello.

Localize your localization efforts: Simply changing the language on the platform was not enough. True localization requires that you consider the cultural quirks and unique preferences of users in each locale.

If you’re interested to uncover the power of localization, we have a team of professionals who can make your efforts a reality. We specialize in delighting our clients and want to help you do the same. Click here to check out our global translation services and to find out more about what we do.  

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Six essentials for a successful global marketing campaign

Six essentials for a successful global marketing campaign

In theory, executing a global marketing campaign is simple. You take your message or slogan, translate it into a couple of languages and voilà. Unfortunately, the reality is far less simple – though many a brand has rolled out a global marketing campaign that’s designed with only the theory in mind (somewhat unsuccessfully we might add). Whether you’re about to launch a global marketing campaign, or have already implemented one, read on for the six most crucial considerations you need to be cognizant of.  

1. Get your core message right from the get go.

Without a rock-solid, easily-understandable message at the heart of your global campaign, you run the risk of your message being diluted to the point where it loses all meaning. If you’re building out a campaign from scratch, make sure that your message is actually translatable in the first place. This applies to both the copy and the underlying message. Slogans or catchphrases (or even ideas) that rely on idiom, nuance or innuendo rarely retain their meaning when translated into another language. HSBC learnt this lesson the hard way after the leading financial provider was forced to rebrand its entire global marketing messaging after its slogan “Assume Nothing”  translated into “Do Nothing”. Besides the cringe factor, the re-branding effort reportedly totaled $10 million.

2. Choose the most audience-appropriate channels.

The most successful global marketing campaigns owe their efficacy – in large part at least – to the fact that they’re broadcast on the channels that are most appropriate to each market. The potency of your media mix plays a crucial role in the efficacy of your global campaign, and choosing the right combination of traditional and offline platforms can be the difference between a message that reaches (and resonates with) your intended audience, and one that gets lost in the ether.

3. Conduct exhaustive – and extensive – market research.

As we’ve written time and time again, the depth and breadth of your market research dictates the success of any expansion into a foreign territory. After all, it’s infinitely harder to appeal to someone you don’t know the first thing about. The reason why brands like Starbucks, for example, are so successful in their global expansion efforts is because they’ve made a concerted effort to understand not just the culture at hand, but the sensitivities, nuances and context thereof.

4. Ensure your campaign is cohesive and uniform.

McDonald’s golden arches are instantly recognizable, regardless of where you are in the world. While localizing your marketing campaign is important, so too is maintaining the ‘golden thread’: the core message that ties all of your marketing touch points together. For McDonald’s, this is their signature red and yellow branding, their golden arches and the seemingly immortal visage of Ronald McDonald. Uniform marketing does more than cement your brand firmly in the mind of your market; it conveys a sense of reliability and trustworthiness too.

5. Prioritize proactive project management.

Launching and managing an international marketing campaign requires an exhaustive, detail-orientated schedule that leaves nothing to chance. That said, having a detailed plan is useless if it’s not being followed to the T. Making use of a project management team who’ll take the reins and firmly steer all stakeholders in the right direction is key to meeting deadlines and covering your bases.

6. Seek the guidance of an experienced Localization Service Provider.

Rolling out a global marketing campaign across time zones and language barriers is no small feat. The stakes are high, which means that you can’t afford to drop even one of the many (many) balls that you’re simultaneously juggling. Having the expertise and insight of an LSP, however, can make this process a lot more streamlined (not to mention less stressful).

We’re a global translation services provider who helps firms – big and small – to get their message heard. Download our eBook, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Global Product Expansion’ to learn more about the ins and outs of successful foreign expansion.

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Around the world in 80 emojis

Around the world in 80 emojis

Since the dawn of time, human beings have communicated through pictures. The 21st century equivalent of Hieroglyphics, emojis* add nuance and context to our everyday digital conversations and have changed the way we communicate across digital platforms – for the better. The Unicode 9.0 update (the industry standard for digital text) is set to add 72 emojis that will soon be rolled out on Android and iOS. Heeding calls (most notably from Google) for increased gender diversity of the emoji ‘alphabet’, the new additions in Unicode 9.0 include gendered pairs like a female Santa Claus, a dancing man and a groom. Following suit from the 2015 introduction of modifiers for skin tone, 2016 has been dubbed as the year emojis become fully diversified to include female representations of professional roles that are currently only available in the male gender. (Whether or not this comes to fruition remains to be seen.)

Emojis, and our use thereof, are a direct reflection of the current zeitgeist.

In the wake of the Orlando shootings – an act which highlighted the ongoing debate around gun control – a proposed assault rifle emoji was scrapped after Apple and other influential tech companies voiced their displeasure. As our on and offline lives become increasingly intertwined, it makes sense that popular sentiment and real life current events spill over into the digital sphere, influencing one of the primary tools of modern day communication.

Initially touted as the great equalizer, our use of emojis is far more dependent on our unique cultural idiosyncrasies than first thought.

The way you conduct a conversation with your boss is vastly different to the way you catch up with a friend. While both interactions rely on the same language, your use of individual words and phrases, your tone, and the subtext are dependent on situation and context. It makes sense then that the use of emojis – essentially another tool with which we communicate – differs (vastly) across genders, ages, demographics and cultures. Swiftkey recently analyzed over 1 billion pieces of emoji data across 16 languages and regions – and the results provide some interesting (and amusing) insights into the way different cultures are using emojis.

Despite (or maybe because of) a spate of tragic and violent world events, ‘happy faces’ still beat ‘sad faces’ in the popularity stakes.

In addition to smiling emojis, love is in the air, with hearts and romance-themed emojis coming out tops around the globe. As far as culturally-unique emoji usage goes, Canadians are fondest of using the smiling poop emoji, while Brazilians are the most prolific users of the cat emoji. Australians make their fondness for vice apparent, using “double the average amount of alcohol-themed emoji, 65% more drug emoji than the average, and leading both junk food and holiday emoji [in usage].” In addition, Arabic emoji users send plants and flower emojis four times more than any other nation, while Americans use the most LGBT emojis out of all of the countries surveyed. What’s more, US citizens are also the most frequent users of the chicken drumstick, aubergine, birthday cake and bag of dollars. (You can read the full report here.)

The findings from a recent study confirmed that the way we use and interpret emojis is dependent on our societal status, location and cultural context.

In an experiment run by Group Lens, researchers examined the different ways participants interpreted emojis. For example, 2015’s most-used emoji, the ‘face with tears of joy’ (recently named as Oxford Dictionary’s ‘word’ of the year’) was equally interpreted as both positive or negative. Jacob Thebault-Spieker, one of the researchers told NPR: “The understanding that we have from theory suggests that people build shared meaning of communication and interaction over time….These [emoji] are new. People are building up their new norms within a group of friends or within a geographic region or perhaps even within a culture and those things may start to even out over time.”

Our use of emojis serves as a reminder that even in an age where we’re more interconnected than ever before, the ways in which we communicate are still influenced by our unique cultural and demographic qualities.

As a leading global translation services provider, we know that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to getting your message across. You can find out more about our approach to the translation process here.

*Debate around the plural form of emoji rages on. For sake of clarity, we’ve chosen to use emojis.

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What Does Effective Marketing Messaging in a New Market Entail?

What Does Effective Marketing Messaging in a New Market Entail?

Getting your marketing messaging across in a new market is the crucial first step in garnering buy-in from a new audience. If you want to successfully establish your brand, you need to make sure your message reaches and is understood by your audience – in a way that they want to receive it. So how exactly do you go about starting a conversation in a market you only understand on a rudimentary level? In short, you can’t. Before you begin constructing a marketing campaign that’s based on what works in your native market, or worse, one that’s built on assumption, read on. We’ll explain how to make sure your marketing messaging isn’t only heard, but is well received too.

Research, research, then research some more.

When a substantial marketing budget is hanging in the balance, building your marketing strategy on anything less than solid data is not only foolish; it’s a surefire way to sabotage the success of your brand. Whether you’re targeting an audience in a foreign region, or a new market segment in your native country, one thing’s for certain: the way they interact with marketing messaging is more often than not, vastly different to the way your primary market does. These differences are due to a vast array of factors, including entrenched cultural nuances and ideologies, the political and economic climate, and the available infrastructure. As such, your original marketing messaging will need to change accordingly.

If you want your marketing messaging to facilitate ROI, it needs to be customer-centric.

The definition of superior localization is a product (or message) that’s received as if it was built or designed within the intended market. After all, if you want your marketing to be persuasive, it has to come across as authentic (which means rudimental translation or mangled messaging isn’t an option). And if you want your marketing messaging to really hit home, you need to know your audience. Establishing their demographics, lifestyles, purchasing behavior, cultural norms and sensitivities is essential if you want to make sure your marketing messaging is strategically tailored towards your market and their unique requirements.

You need to identify the ways your intended market interacts with marketing and advertising.

Gauging your new market’s attitude towards marketing material gives you a good idea of the way you need to position your marketing messaging and the channels you need to employ. In order to do this, establish the answers to the following: is your market most receptive on social media, or are they more responsive to traditional channels like television or radio? How do they prefer to purchase products: in-store or online? What factors influence their loyalty to a brand? Is their purchasing behavior solely transactional, or is it motivated by another factor such as convenience or entrenched cultural preferences? While these questions are not exhaustive, they will assist you in building a solid foundation of your new marketing messaging.

If you haven’t localized your branding in its entirety, there’s little point in localizing your marketing messaging.

The one thing many marketers overlook when targeting a new market is the fact that all branding and content constitutes a part of your marketing messaging. This includes your logo, slogan, website, advertising campaigns, product packaging, instruction manuals etc. While localizing all of the above is a considerable undertaking, it’s an important one. Tailoring your marketing or advertising to the market at hand without localizing the rest of your brand’s assets sends the wrong kind of message to your audience: namely, that you couldn’t be bothered, and therefore, that your market’s interactions with your brand aren’t  really all that important. A solid, successful marketing strategy needs to be uniform throughout, with each channel or asset (like your social media accounts, website, email correspondence and the like) seamlessly fitting into your brand identity.

Partnering with an LSP who has extensive experience in tailoring marketing messaging to new markets is the only way to really get to the heart of your customers. They’re well-versed in the culture at hand and have expertise in aligning marketing messaging to the market’s unique context.

Make sure your marketing messaging gets straight to the point. Find out about our global translation services today.

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Why Product Analysis Should Be a Crucial Part of Your Localization Efforts

Why Product Analysis Should Be a Crucial Part of Your Localization Efforts

Congratulations! You’ve put in the time and effort to fully localize your product and have now launched the end result in a new territory or market. If you’re about to sit back and relax, hold up. What many people fail to realize is that monitoring the performance of your localized product is just as important as localizing it in the first place. After all, the goal of localizing an asset, product or even your entire brand is to ensure that it resonates with, and is understood by, your new target market. But just how do you go about measuring the performance of a localized product? We’ll talk you through the best way to go about it, as well as our experience with the product analysis process.

First things first, where there’s human input, there’s opportunity for human error.

After all, we’re not robots, and more often than not, the post-launch period of your localized asset will require some degree of revision. If you’re aware that product analysis is part and parcel of the process, you’ll be that much better prepared to deal with issues as and when they arrive. Remember: product analysis isn’t a once off; instead it’s a continuous process that allows you to keep track of how your localized product is faring, and importantly, an opportunity to learn more about your market.

Bring in the third party reviewers for short checks along the way.

Touching base with an objective party while you’re busy localizing your product, during your product analysis before your launch, as well as after the fact is crucial. This feedback can come from a trusted distributor, reseller, or even a customer who’s familiar with your product and has extensive experience in the market in question. If you’re localizing a document, technical instructional material or marketing material, begin by having them review the glossary (a short list of company terms, product names, and slogans) as this is one of the building block for the final translation. If you’re able to get this right from the get-go, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble (not to mention time, money and frustration) further down the road. Having them review the final product before it goes to market, and then a couple of weeks after it has been launched, further sets your localized or translated product up for success. (On that note, make sure that whomever is doing the translation is using a Translation Memory so that any changes can be captured in order to avoid mistakes being repeated in subsequent releases.)

More often than not, localization feedback consists of objections to word choice or style, not the actual translation.

Let’s assume you’re already utilizing a trusted third party reviewer to be involved in the process and review both the glossary and style guide and the final translation. (Remember, this third party reviewer is your trusted international employee, distributor or reseller, or power customer – which means you need to be as democratic as possible when dealing with negative feedback.) If your reviewer objects to something in the translation, don’t panic! Step back and evaluate their comments together with your localization service provider. For the sake of peaceful relations, your LSP should coordinate an email exchange between the reviewer and the linguist about why that particular word or phrase was chosen. From our extensive experience in product analysis, we’ve seen that frequently, the reviewer isn’t objecting to the translation of a particular phrase; instead, they’re not sold on the original English phrase and are in fact, trying to rewrite the original copy.  

Pro Tip: Set expectations with your reviewers about what should be changed and what shouldn’t – before they aid you in product analysis.

Don’t go down the rabbit hole of changing the English version. Not only will this put deadlines in jeopardy, but you’ll need to update all of your other translations to match the revised English content in order to ensure continuity.  

How do you fix a localization mistake after launching a product?

If you’ve already gone through the initial localization and a mistake is discovered after the fact, worry not. While this scenario is rare, it does happen. After all, with human input come many variables, and many of them aren’t under your control. This feedback may be due to an assumption made by the linguist, someone who doesn’t necessarily have the same level of information as the reviewer. This scenario requires some strategic navigation: firstly, thank your reviewer for their diligent work and be clear about the fact that you appreciate their input. Then address the mistake right away, and continue on your journey. It’s that simple. (Really.)

Localization is rarely an endeavor that’s cut and dry; the best and most successful localization projects require back and forth between your LSP and your reviewer. By embracing this process, you’ll ensure that your launch is a successful one.

Contact us to find out about our global translation services today.

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