This a repost of an article by Lingotek CEO, Rob Vandenberg, "Insults, Assumptions, Cultural Affronts: Mistakes to Avoid When Going Global," that originally appeared in CMS Wire.
Making mistakes in business is natural. Sometimes those mistakes benefit your overall success. Hire the wrong iPhone developer, and you’ll learn what to look for in the next one. Cancel your work from home policy, and you might get faster collaboration, the way Marissa Mayer wanted.
If you take your product global with the wrong color scheme, image or translations, however, your target audience might be shaken for years. Rumor has it that the Pepsi slogan “Come Alive With Pepsi!” translated to “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Dead” in Taiwan. KFC’s “finger licking good” became “eat your fingers off” in Chinese. In another faux pas, one Beijing Starbucks had to close after setting up shop in Beijing’s sacred and historic Forbidden City -- considered a cultural affront.
One thing that globalization failures have in common is that companies assumed the world operates in a certain way and got it wrong. Study a culture in advance, hire a cultural expert, and avoid these four most common assumptions.
1. Everyone speaks English
The converse -- nobody speaks English -- might actually be closer to the truth. There might be over over 300 million people living in the United States, but there are 2.5 billion in India and China combined. Across the globe, an estimated 508 million people speak English, while 3.386 billion people don’t speak English, according to the Nations Online Project.
If you don’t translate your content into at least one additional language, you’re missing most of the market opportunities on Earth.
2. Machine translation is enough
It’s only enough in certain cases. Calls to action and basic instructions might go over well, but don’t risk your white papers or confidential memos to MT quite yet -- it’s still about as smart as a three-year-old.
3. It’s okay to charge in dollars online
Users need to see their local currency to trust your system. How would you feel if everything you bought from Amazon was charged in Pesos?
4. Yellow is the universal color of hope
Red is the color of excitement; blue is calm. Actually, that only applies in America and a few other places. Colors and symbols vary wildly by country. In Egypt, yellow is the color of mourning. Waving two fingers in the air might mean “peace” in America, but it’s something else entirely in England. Consult local experts on meaning before you even design your global website, and you’ll avoid sullying your brand later on.
Bearing in mind the things that could go wrong helps you prepare to go global successfully, without bad translations or cultural oversights. Build a solid strategy to go global, find translation tools that will guarantee accuracy, and you’re already three-quarters of the way there.
Language is social. It connects people and ideas. But what happens when it stops connecting, slows down, and goes offline? What happens when your global audience is left in the dark because your translations are stuck in someone’s inbox?
With the Translation Network, Lingotek makes your content accessible to your customers globally. By connecting your company with our technology and translators, we connect your ideas with the world. Lingotek makes going global possible.
Cloud Based Translation is Faster, Easier & More Efficient
Lingotek revolutionized the translation industry with its cloud-based networked translation technology. With Lingotek, you get an enterprise-grade, end-to-end solution that you control. Bring your translation workflow into the 21st century and get out from under the old-school, on-premise, traditional IT, and proxy architectures that slow you down and increase your costs with budget-busting implementation processes and ongoing maintenance.
Agile Software That Offers Scalability and Responsive IT
Our next-generation technology continuously delivers multilingual content and scalability to meet your increasing needs for more content, storage, and translation management. Lingotek’s cloud-based technology can extract large amounts of data and scale to any project size on the fly. With our agile software, Lingotek can be more responsive and can match your evolving requirements with fast IT.
Seamless Integration With Your Applications
Seamless integration with your enterprise applications and our translation management system lets you upload source content for translation, have it automatically translated, and download the translated content back into your original application.
Automated Workflows Put Your Translations on Autopilot
Put your translations on autopilot with customizable workflows that let you trigger actions throughout the project lifecycle. From notifying a reviewer when a translation is ready for review, to reporting project status to an external system, the Lingotek rules engine brings AI-like capabilities to your workflow.
Continuous, Real-Time Collaboration for Round-the-Clock Translation
With a vast network of translators working in our powerful cloud-based translation management system, you get continuous, round the clock translation and real-time collaboration.
Centralized File Management Gives You Control Over Your Content
Out-of-the-box integrations with popular CMS, CRM, marketing automation, knowledge bases, and social business software means your information resides in your system, giving you visibility, access, security, and control of your files and information.
Scalable File Storage to Match Your Growth
Our cloud-based Translation Network offers scalability that auto-scales to increased volume levels, without no additional charge for more file storage. It can scale as your usage grows.
Secure Your Information With Controlled Access to Files
Content stored in the Lingotek cloud is fully secured and kept private to your organization. Role-based authorization ensures that users only see information if they have been granted access by your project administrator.
Lingotek offers a wide range of translation solutions to its customers. Whether you are in the enterprise or federal space, or want our world-class translation services team to take care of your localization for you, Lingotek offers corporate and global translation solutions that are custom tailored for your needs.
Lingotek | The Translation Network is a cloud-based translation services provider, offering translation management software and professional linguistic services. We are the leader in collaborative translation technology with an innovative cloud translation management system (TMS) that uses computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools to facilitate faster, more efficient, language translation. Lingotek was the first to introduce cloud-based TMS technology to the United States in 2006 with the launch of a fully online, web-based, computer-assisted translation (CAT) system that pioneered the integration of translation memories (TM) with main-frame powered machine translation (MT). Our multilingual application program interfaces (API) and connectors pair with the industry’s top enterprise applications to automate and integrate the translation process. They include:
Customers can use their own language services providers (LSP) and linguists, or our global network of 5,000+ professional linguists. Lingotek is based in Lehi, Utah in the area known as Silicon Slopes.
Signal Peak Ventures is a Salt Lake-based venture capital firm that focuses on early-stage technology investments in the Intermountain region. The firm was established as Signal Peak in 2011 after the spin out of Canopy Ventures venture capital team and the acquisition of portfolio investments in ten other companies. The Signal Peak team has extensive experience in sourcing, executing, managing, and divesting venture capital stakes across the Intermountain region.
In-Q-Tel is a strategic, not-for-profit investment firm that works to identify, adapt, and deliver innovative technology solutions to support the mission of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Launched by the CIA in 1999 as a private, independent organization, In-Q-Tel's mission is to identify and partner with companies developing cutting-edge technologies that serve the national security interests of the United States. Working from an evolving strategic blueprint defining the Intelligence Community's critical technology needs, In-Q-Tel engages with entrepreneurs, growth companies, researchers, and investors to deliver technologies that provide superior capabilities for the CIA and the larger Intelligence Community.
Lingotek works with some of the largest, most innovative companies in the world, in a wide variety of industries and services including government, technology, finance, telecom, travel, and education. Our clients include departments in the U.S. Government and several large Fortune 500 companies. Here are some of the Customers that are trusting their translation processes with the Lingotek Translation Network.
We also work with a growing network of Partners--service providers, digital agencies, open sources technologies, and other strategically selected companies--to meet the unique translation requirements of our customers.
Comparably Best Company Leadership 2018
Comparably Best Company Managers 2018
Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry - EContent 2017-2018
Comparably Best Company Leadership 2017
Comparably Best Company Culture 2017
Comparably Best Places to Work 2017
Comparable Best CEO - Rob Vandenberg 2017
Utah Business Book of Lists Top Telecom & Technology Software Developers 201
Utah Best in State Language Services 201
Silicon Review List of Inspiring 100 Companies 201
Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry - EContent 201
Top 30 Drupal Contributor 201
Top Translation Services Company 2016 - PFin
Hot in Lehi Award Top Trending Companies - Owle
Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry - EContent 201
Edison Award Finalist 201
CIO Microsoft 100 Solution Providers CIO Review 201
Edison Award Nominee 201
Gartner Cool Vendor of the Year 201
Oracle Gold Partner 201
Stevie Award Best New Product or Service of the Year SaaS Category 201
Most Innovative New Product Utah Valley Entrepreneur Forum 2006
Experience the Benefits of Networked Translation