Successful multinationals understand that the “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work when delivering products and services across multiple markets. Creating goodwill and establishing credibility with local markets is critical if a multinational wants to prosper.
This article outlines how to design and implement a localisation strategy that will help drive a culture of “thinking globally, acting locally”. It also provides key insights into how we at PHM serve our multinational client base by making localisation an integral part of our business
The concept of Localisation
“Thinking globally, acting locally”, has been around for decades. Originally coined to tackle environmental challenges, it was later adopted by multinational organisations as a strategy for tailoring or “localising” their offerings to different geographical audiences, while maintaining the same global brand values.
What do we mean by localisation? In this context localisation is where a business actively seeks to differentiate its global products, services and communications to individual markets and regions and to embrace and accommodate those differences. Done correctly this leads to improved results such as increased ROI, awareness and engagement.
Designing a localisation strategy
Designing a localisation strategy demands an appraisal of the unique needs of each market to enable a business to understand how to best adapt their product offering. It is important to consider these three steps when designing a localisation strategy.
1. Know your target market
It is essential to start with an understanding of your target market and those customers you are attempting to engage. Establish what language they speak. What are their cultural nuances? Consider lifestyle, holidays and working hours. Acquaint yourself with local customs and traditions. Are there any taboos or symbols you should avoid? Enlist the support of someone within the local market who knows it intimately and understands your customer’s journey. Local market knowledge is invaluable and will provide you with a far richer level of knowledge than you would otherwise get. All this information can be brought to bear in designing your localisation strategy.
2. Build the right team
Once you have a comprehensive understanding of the target market the next step is to put together a localisation team who will be responsible for overseeing the adaptation of your product offering. The strength and capabilities of this team is pivotal to the success of your localisation strategy. The team should be diverse and handpicked to satisfy the cultural and linguistic requirements of your markets. Effective localisation will lead to local market acceptance of your products and generate significant returns for your business.
3. Use Technology
Have a tech strategy and use technology wherever possible to improve efficiencies. For example, if your business is involved in translation, deploy a Translation Management System (TMS) to accelerate the process and reduce the potential for human error. Consider technology wherever it helps to maintain quality and consistency.
Implementing a Localisation Strategy
Here at PHM we understand the importance of an effective localisation strategy. A core part of our work involves communicating with and localising content for eLearning, animations, films and mobile sales tools for our global automotive clients. To accomplish this, we have developed a localisation framework comprised of three distinct, yet interrelated components: Diversity, Communication and Design.
We recognise that a culturally diverse team is best placed to satisfy the needs of our global automotive client base. That’s why we employ highly talented multilingual and multicultural employees from all corners of the world. This allows us to relate to the markets at a deeper level while aligning ourselves to their specific cultural norms. The net effect is longer-lasting, more effective client/supplier relationships.
Our embedded localisation team is trained to communicate directly with the markets to identify those areas in the deliverables that require local market adaptation. Once they have been identified, the team will ensure the deliverables are both translated and adapted correctly. The advantage of the localisation team communicating directly with the markets is that it engenders stronger interpersonal client/supplier relationships and a deeper understanding of the unique requirements of each individual market. With the markets being involved throughout the process, market responsiveness and responsibility increases. In sum, this communication strategy results in a greater likelihood that the localised deliverables will be successful rolled out first time.
Localisation is built into the design of all our products and deliverables from the outset making them truly multinational “out of the box”. A crucial stage of our design workflow is to identify the key areas where local market adaptation will be necessary. We then put time and effort into ensuring we have the correct processes in place to allow our clients to easily adapt our deliverables to suit their local market needs.
“Thinking Globally, Acting Locally” is essential for multinationals catering to multinational markets. This can be achieved by designing and implementing a localisation strategy. By blending Diversity, Communication and Design it is possible to develop deeper relationships with multinational clients and to create market relevant, powerful and engaging solutions.
All PHM’s multinational projects adhere to a solid localisation strategy resulting in increased acceptance and uptake of localised deliverables by the markets and an increased ROI.
Huge thanks to Suzi Phipps for her help with writing this article.