Localization, or the process of modulating content for a new audience that may have linguistic, cultural, or other factors that differentiate them from your ‘home’ audience, has never been a one-to-one process. Even with the numerous translation services available online and elsewhere, the practice has never been as simple as “original content in, localized content out”—and those who have tried to simplify it to this level have often found themselves with flawed, if not laughable, results.
With Squigl, however, you can get a great start on translation with the Multilingual video feature, allowing you to convert your custom video into forty different languages.
As you export your video, just look on the right side of the screen—the Multilingual Video will let you select the language you need, and dive right into translation.
Outside of great tools like Squigl’s, the process can demands a bit more diligence. Of course, this does not mean it is impossible, or worth ignoring. It’s fair to say that the world grows more and more reachable day by day, and that those businesses ignoring the now-available markets in other regions have little to gain. With this in mind, let’s examine some great advice on creating multilingual video content in our interconnected world.
Ian Humphreys has advice relating both to personnel and process in pursuit of strong multilingual video content. He identifies three key positions that should be involved in any localization/multilingual effort: a native speaking editor, a native speaking writer/creator, and a global lead.
With these people on the job, you’ll avoid the above-mentioned results of an unexamined translation. What’s more, working with native speakers gives you insight into more than just the right specific words to use—it allows you to utilize local dialect and trends, and can help in your selection of imagery as well.
For example, choosing a non-native speaker (even one entirely fluent in the language, and skilled enough to avoid obvious mistranslations) to write your copy or craft your visuals will still leave crucial details out of your content. If there is a clothing style, or popular brand of car, or specific terminology that is tied to a region, you’re going to want to include it for a truly authentic and valid piece of content. A non-native speaker will not have the likelihood of knowing these specifics.
A native-speaker, by contrast, can tell you if the imagery you’re considering was popular thirty years ago, and not at all today; they can tell you if a term has a specific meaning in your target audience’s internet usage, and will have an unintentionally comic or offensive effect if you include it. They can also tell you which trends are passing, and which are long-term.
Anyone can look up “current trends in country x” and try to patch them into content—but someone with a far more direct connection to the region can tell you if it’s likely to matter in a year. If everyone’s using a particular app, say, it takes a higher degree of understanding to be able to determine whether including this trend will date your content in a few years.
This gets at something important about multilingual video content—language is difficult to separate from culture. It’s not just the words being spoken that you should be correctly using, but a knowledge of the place in which those words are spoken that you should be correctly addressing. Sure, there are speakers of every language in almost every country, but if you are working in the German language, an awareness of German culture is perhaps just as important as a knowledge of German syntax and vocabulary.
Matinee Multilingual actually proposes something even more focused than native speaker translation: skip the English content entirely when creating content for multilingual consumption. This is a real shift in thinking, and one that can help get your mind as far away from the “business as usual/home markets come first” mentality that you probably (and understandably) find yourself in.
Bringing things full circle is the notion of brand consistency/loyalty, and remembering the goal of creating multilingual video content in the first place: increasing your brand’s awareness for a new or different audience. The point here is that localization needn’t, and shouldn’t, create messaging that runs counter to your brand.
Don’t distort your messaging—multilingual video content should arise out of an adaptation of your communications, not a total reformation. If you’re confronted with an element of your product line that won’t likely appeal to the region that speaks the other language, ask yourself some questions. Or, more accurately, ask your native-speaking personnel some questions.
Is this “wrong” enough that it will cause audiences to wholly turn away from our content? Or, is it something they might cause them to hesitate, but move beyond once they realize our value? If it would cause wholesale rejection, how can we prevent this? Would this prevention give a misleading or inaccurate picture of our offerings?
If the only way to make your content appropriate for your audience is to distort your brand beyond recognition, you might have to confront a bigger question: is this market reachable?
Let’s take a fictional example. Your company sells heavy winter apparel. How will you market your winter clothing line to a nation that almost always experiences extremely high temperatures? What are your options when it comes to messaging? You’re not going to convince anyone they need help staying warm… so you might have to claim that they’re “high fashion,” or something similar.
The reality, of course, is that they are not. You’re being dishonest, and distorting the messaging you use everywhere else. Just because your messaging is correctly translated—even by native speakers, even with proper dialect—does not mean your message will be successful.
Fundamentally, creating multilingual video content is about more than your bottom line. It’s a show of respect for the audiences you’re addressing. It’s showing that you care enough about their needs, interests, history and culture to take the time to meet them where they are.
How have you approached the creation of multilingual video content and localization? Do you agree that distorting your brand to reach a particular audience is ill-advised, or do you think anything is marketable to any culture? Have you had success without the involvement of native-speaking creators, or do you find their presence crucial, as Humphreys does? What kinds of markets do you hope to reach in the coming year?
About the writer
Stephen R. Ware is a certified paralegal and a Producer. He serves as a blogger and copywriter for Squigl.