Web localization is a black and white issue

The death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has led to stores running out of black and white clothing as the population mourns its leader in color-appropriate clothing.

What does this mean for website localization?

Consider the Thailand home pages for Apple:

apple_thai

Samsung:

samsung_thai

Microsoft:

microsoft_thai

McDonald’s:

mcdonalds_thai

Starbucks:

starbucks_thai

And Coca-Cola has gone black on its social feeds:

coke_social_thai

Web localization isn’t about creating a localized website and forgetting about it.

It’s about creating a living and breathing website that responds quickly to local events. Web localization is about respect.

To learn more about the leaders in web localization, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

 

Localizing your website for Canada: It’s more challenging than you might think

My latest post for client Pitney Bowes on localizing for Canada.

An excerpt:

As they begin their global expansion, American companies often select Canada first under the assumption that the market will be easier to succeed in than more distant and culturally unfamiliar markets such as Germany or Japan.

However, physical and cultural proximity should not be confused with ease of market entry or ease of website localization. Every country is a new market with unique cultures, laws, and ways of doing business. This article highlights a few key tips to consider as you head to the “great white north.”

Link

Counting in Tongues

HTML has long supported the ability to create numbered lists simply by using the <ol><li></li></ol> tags.

But these tags are rather limited if you are developing websites for the world. How, for example, do you support Asian numbering systems?

That’s what the proposed specification CSS Counter Styles Level 3 is intended to address (among other things).

Richard Ishida has created a nifty demo that relies on this feature to dynamically convert between numbering systems.

Number Converter

What’s interesting about the proposed specification is  that web developers can rely on predefined counter styles but can also create their own custom counters.

 

 

When does localization become capitulation?

I begin this post with a question because I don’t have an answer.

A book making news these days is The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler. It’s about Hollywood’s active self-censorship to appease German censors during Hitler’s reign.

According to the book, movies critical of the Nazi regime were killed because they would have threatened all Hollywood exports into Germany at the time.

According to this NY Post piece, Hollywood is making the same sort of deal with the devil with China.

Changing plot lines, adding characters and scenes, changing the “bad guys” from  Chinese to Russian — all to appease Chinese censors.

China is very careful about what movies it allows in its large and lucrative  market. And this gatekeeper role gives it enormous power over Hollywood.

Which leads me to the question at hand: At what point does localization become capitulation?

This is question every company must ask itself when trying to expand into new markets and cultures.

A Hollywood studio would no doubt argue that it is simply localizing its product to comply with local laws and to succeed with customers.

Which means that Hollywood may end up one day localizing the “bad guys” for each market it enters.

Is this a bad thing? Or is this just good business?

Localization is, after all, about adapting to the market.

I do believe there is a line there, somewhere, that you shouldn’t cross.

When you find that you’re changing who you are to adapt to a market, you should pause to understand exactly what you are changing, exactly what you are sacrificing.

As for Hollywood “selling its soul” to succeed in China I would ask: What soul was there to sell? 

But in all seriousness, this is a big issue and it’s not going away. Companies are  desperate to succeed in markets around the world — markets where they may indeed be asked or required to do things they don’t want to do.

I think of Mean Girls and the lengths that Lindsay Lohan’s character went in order to fit in. (Yes, all the great business issues of the world have been addressed by high school movies.)

And then I think of a quote I from the former CEO of Starbucks:

On a country-by-country basis, the largest hurdle we had to overcome was thinking we had to be different.

 

 

 

Transcreation is here to stay

In 2005, I wrote transcreation is gaining momentum.

I predicted that we’d see a lot more use of this word in the years ahead. Why? Because “translation sounds like a commodity; transcreation sounds like a service.”

So here we are in 2013 and a Google search on Transcreation brings up 392,000 results.

Translators often cringe when hearing this word. And I have often felt the urge to do the same because, frankly, good translators and translation agencies have been providing this service all along.

The idea that literal, word-for-word translation is the only service provided by translators is simply wrong, and to some extent propagated by a translation industry built upon stressing quality (as in literal translation) over more marketing-oriented translation.

So now we have a number of marketing firms and advertising agencies who use this term quite liberally to promote their unique brand of translation services. Here is a screen grab from the website of Hogarth:

Hogarth and Transcreation

By the way, Hogarth is looking to hire a Transcreation Account Manager to “manage the transcreation and production of advertising for major global brands.” Here is the link.

Transcreation is here to stay.