What does localisation mean?
Localisation, as opposed to a direct translation, consists of adapting content to the local target market. I primarily work with localisation of websites and marketing material, but anything from design to images and language can be adapted to a specific region, country or target group.
If you want international visibility, you have to translate your texts. The best way to do this is to employ a person who has the target language as his/her mother tongue, who has knowledge of the industry and the market, and who also has a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t for the market you would like to reach. One tiny mistake can cause you to offend potential customers, or it can make you come across as unprofessional.
Do I really need to translate my material?
This is actually a very common question asked by potential clients, and since most Norwegians speak English fairly well, it’s natural to assume that translating the material would serve no purpose. This is in parts very true, and most Norwegians will definitely be able to read and more or less understand your website. Unfortunately there will most likely be some content which will be misunderstood, and there will also be some that will not have the desired effect. This is simply because the material is adapted to a completely different culture and language. The material will not give them a feeling of safety, security, or of being tailored to them. Norwegians are accustomed to a very transparent society where there is openness about most things. We consider competition very healthy, and in turn this means that we are used to having a large number of choices. We consequently go for a product/service that we feel confident with, and in most cases our choice will fall on a company which stands out to us as Norwegian and/or run by Norwegians. If we choose to go for something which is evidently foreign, we will most likely choose a company which has gone through the trouble of getting the product to appeal to us Norwegians specifically. We do this more or less subconsciously, but the fact that the company has gone through all this trouble shows us that they have a lot to lose, that it is in their interest to satisfy us as customers, and that they most probably also will “go through the trouble” of taking good care of us as well.
This is where I come in. I can transform your material to look like it has been created by Norwegians – for Norwegians.
Do I have to translate everything?
This depends entirely on the market, the audience, and the product/service. In certain cases it will be best to leave certain text in the original language. When localising a website, I will always make suggestions and ask question along the way. I do this to ensure that the final product appears exactly as you want it to (with the desired effect on the target audience).
How long does the localisation process take?
This also depends on the material. Once you’ve made the decision to localise, it can be very tempting to rush and jump in head-first (especially if your competitors have already localised their material for the same market). I do however recommend that you take it slow, and make sure that everything down to the smallest little detail is how you would like it to be. I have seen too many companies who have done the opposite, and launched before the material is 100% ready. Errors and inaccuracies can ruin your reputation. It can be shared online in seconds, and from a long-term business perspective it would be a good investment to spend some extra time on making sure it’s close to perfect. This way you have done your absolute best to hopefully enjoy a long-term, respected and profitable presence in the market. We only have about 5 million people in Norway, but there’s a good reason why so many companies try to enter this market. We have almost 100% Internet penetration, we have tons of spare time and lots of money, and we are a potential goldmine for any business.