As part of National Scrabble Day, this blog will focus on what the famous board game can teach us about localisation. The word “Scrabble” actually means to ‘grope frantically’. However, with sales in 121 countries and translations into 29 different languages, the makers of Scrabble have done far from that. They have created a highly successful brand which has sold over one hundred and fifty million sets worldwide. So what can we learn from the continued success of this language-crazy board game?

Language, as we know, is an ever-developing phenomenon. The Oxford English Dictionary is currently updated four times a year, with new words being added and obsolete words being removed. In the January 2021 update, many of the additions were actually changes to how words are used. The Covid-19 pandemic has even created a language of its own, with terms such as pod, bubble and long hauler acquiring new meanings. This illustrates the way in which culture affects new language – and slang – developments.

Why localisation matters to your business

Localisation is a fairly broad concept, but essentially mean the adaptation of a product or content to make it specific to a location or market. It’s not as simple a task as that might sound though. For example, when KFC launched in China, the marketing team opted for a literal translation of their catchphrase ‘fingerlickin’ good’. Unfortunately, locals didn’t take too kindly to being told to ‘eat your fingers off’.

Localisation is dedicated to the adaptation of your brand messaging to ensure that it speaks to multiple target markets across a global audience. Without localisation, your business could face setbacks – as KFC did – when attempting to expand outside of your home market.

How culture influences localisation

Culture and language are intrinsically intertwined in a complex manner. Language, after all, is far more than the sum of words, grammatical principles and sentence construction, it is also a balance of unique cultural and social complexities. Understanding these cultural-specific contexts and how they affect the linguistic principles of a particular culture is central to effective communication.

Localisation industry trends in 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has shaped the business landscape in unexpected ways. Although certain trends can be seen worldwide, some countries and industries have been affected more than others. Numerous new terms have been coined and, as many countries experienced prolonged periods in lockdown, new ways of working have become the norm.

Digital marketing and e-commerce have seen significant growth. Forbes reported that, in early 2020, “the number of US Facebook users watching live video had increased 50%, prompting the platform to roll out additional features to support video creators”. Interestingly, social media posts without a video received 92% less traffic than those with video content.

Video content can be localised using voice-overs, subtitles and graphics. These additions help the video to resonate with users in other countries, making the message all that more personal.

Another popular approach to localisation is through transcreation. Transcreation builds on localisation, adjusting a product or message to ensure it feels as though it was made locally, with that specific market in mind. It elicits the same emotional response in the new language and resonates with the audience.

Why your business should invest in localisation

Businesses often invest heavily in order to improve their chances of success in new markets. But an investment in localisation can not only help your business win new customers, it can help you retain existing ones. More crucially, it can allow your business to pinpoint areas of vulnerability or uncover opportunities in different marketplaces. At its core, localisation will help a business understand its customers better, thus influencing wider business decision-making.

Just as Scrabble creates – and updates – an Official Players Dictionary to ensure the language remains current, localisation can become a guide to ensuring your business and its brand messaging remain pertinent for each market.

To find out more about website/app localisation or overcoming language barriers, please contact our experts.