Following part 1, we continue our mini guide for using translators within marketing campaigns that adopt the internationalisation approach. This week we take a whistle-stop look at setting up the global aspect of internationalisation.
Internationalisation (often shortened to i18n) is a process for planning and implementing products and services at a global or central level so they can easily be adapted to specific local languages and cultures, a process called localisation.
The ultimate goal behind this approach is digital transformation to ensure each customer has the optimal experience when interacting with the brand.
In the first part of the guide we used Marcia Riefer Johnson’s analogy of comparing a body’s circulatory system to global and local teams successfully combining to create a successful content marketing process. Namely:
- Marketing headquarters pumps content, messaging, and brand guidelines to local offices the way the heart pumps blood.
- The system works only when the heart uses what the extremities (local offices) deliver back to inform new phases of content and new initiatives
The first and most vital step here is for the global team to be open to the two-way flow of ideas to help the local teams to deliver and develop content. If this mind shift away from one-way communication is universally accepted then the measures put in place will have a greater likelihood of acceptance and it avoids the global vs local tensions that frequently exist.
Marcia recommends the use of a ‘content evangelist’ who ensures the global content is spread on a local level and who represents the local teams to ensure their concerns and suggestions are taken on board at the global level.
This conduit between global and local is a vital role for ensuring the smooth delivery of a brand’s strategic and tactical objectives for content marketing and identifying the bumps in the road that could lead to poor execution and results. The recruitment and skill set of such a person can vary from role to role. They are expected to have a marketing background and relevant qualifications.
We also advise the content evangelist is multilingual, as this means they have an inherent understanding that what is said one language can vary in another. This would naturally lead to a healthy analysis of the content initially developed by the chief content officer (or similar job role) and the requirement to have flexibility built into the localisation process. If necessary, the evangelist can then help set up the local teams to adapt the global content appropriately.
An added skill would be to have someone who has an understanding of the technical aspects of creating assets for different platforms and the flexibility required for rolling out templates for content delivery. This will help in the early stages of creating content and will help avoid the sorts of costly mistakes made when not taking into account .
Localisation enablement program
The content evangelist (or someone with this type of role) can, along with the chief content officer, create a localisation enablement program. This ensures that the content being created globally is delivered successfully locally. We can simplify this program by dividing it into two aspects:
Software & hardware enablement
- Allowing space in user interfaces (for example, hardware labels, help pages, online menus) for translation into languages that require more characters.
- Developing with products (such as Web editors or authoring tools) that can support international character sets ( Unicode )
- For software, ensuring data space so that messages can be translated from languages with single-byte character codes (such as English) into languages requiring multiple-byte character codes (such as Japanese Kanji)
Content & asset enablement
- Creating print or website graphic images so that text labels can be translated inexpensively
- Building flexibility into the graphic design to take account of text length in different languages
- Using written examples and images that have global meaning where possible
- Maintaining a terminology database with words and phrases to use or avoid in each market. Use this internally and with partners, to save time and resources as you go through each iteration or marketing cycle
Having created content with global adaptability and made sure the software and hardware is adapted, it can now be distributed to the local teams, ready for deployment.
The next, and last, part of our mini guide will follow shortly, where we will take a look at the local aspect of the internationalisation process and the use of translators to help deliver this successfully.