One of the most important strategy guidelines for Global Content Creators is determining what and where you are going to translate, localize, or transcreate content. By what, we mean around what products and where those products fall in their lifecycle – early stage, midlife, end of life. Geography also must be factored into your strategy in determining what and where to translate, localize, or transcreate.

Early Stage
Often products are created for one specific geography and launched only later into subsequent geographies. To support the launch of such products into a subsequent geography, it may make sense to take the content created in the original language and use it as the pivot language for translation, localization, or transcreation. We find that when we do this for companies that have  products relatively early in their lifecycle, these same companies tend to also localize or transcreate content later. Why? Because these approaches are likely to drive the most demand in the local market.

Mid Life
Products in mid-life that are introduced into new markets may not have a chance to get the full benefit of localization or transcreation. Our advice: think it through and – based on how much competition you have in the local market – decide what kind of investment you can make around that product in each market. Many products do not achieve their revenue goals – in our view – because they were not supported with properly localized or transcreated content in market. Localization can only take you so far, particularly in high growth markets like India and China. These are markets that are more suited to transcreation, to capture the nuances of the local culture. The money you save by limiting yourself to translation or localization alone may not be worth the revenue and market share you give up.

End of Life
Some companies introduce products into additional geographies only near the end their useful life. Big Pharma is somewhat notorious for doing this, taking a drug where the patent has expired in the US and introducing it as a new (and wonderful!) drug in the third world. If this is your strategy, translation is most likely going to be the only option on the table for cost reasons. This is fine. But be careful in your choice of pivot languages. Often it makes sense to use simple English as your pivot language, particularly if you are introducing products at end of life into third world countries. It’s not that the people who will buy these products are stupid and we need to dumb down the content. Quite the contrary. Your market in the third world will consist of people who speak and read English, just not at the same level of literacy that we are accustomed to here in the West. Choosing simple English as your pivot language will enable people to understand your content and help your content sell your products, driving incremental revenue from products that otherwise would be at the end of their life. I’ve written about the fact that not everyone speaks English here and about Simple English here.

In addition to varying your strategy by where your product is in the product lifecycle, you are also going to want to develop guidelines by geography, based on what channels of distribution you sell through, volume expectation for specific products, and the like. We have an entire consulting group that can help you get a handle on these issues. Meanwhile, here’s a handy chart that delineates the differences between translation, localization, and transcreation … just in case these concepts aren’t crystal clear in your mind:

translation - localization - transcreation

Keep in mind that while translation is the cheapest thing you can do, localization and transcreation will – all things being equal – drive more revenue in local markets everywhere.

Val Swisher
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