Talking the Lingo: Why You Must Go Local for Global Success

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As the saying goes, “The first impression is everything.” People tend to believe that we form impressions of others primarily focusing on how appealing they look. Clean and combed hair, perfectly matched belt and shoes, ironed clothes, and polished shoes might make heads turn, however, what if I told you that, apart from the criteria above, the “language” or “dialect” one speaks plays a more decisive role when forming first impressions of others?

A recent study has revealed that listening to voices sounding unfamiliar to us exhausts our brains; as a result, we ultimately end up failing to follow along. Eventually, we human beings strictly avoid performing tasks requiring our brain cells to work harder. Pretty relatable. Isn’t it?

Brands Are Indeed Humans

Humans and brands share a lot of similarities in terms of the concepts that I have mentioned above. For instance, people assert their strong personalities by leaving good and permanent impressions on other people to expand their networks. Similarly, brands strive to convince prospective customers of the quality of their product or services and persuade them into purchasing so that they can sustainably develop a thriving customer-brand engagement, which is key to achieving business objectives.

Along with having a goal-oriented mindset, both humans and brands are affected by the language factor. From now on, I will entirely focus on the impact of language on customer-brand relationships.

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Imagine yourself leaning back on your cozy sofa and joyfully watching a video of adorably cute kittens. A commercial suddenly interrupts your video and you feel urged to hit the “Skip Ad” button without even bothering to watch it for a second longer and do so. Eventually, adverts are boring and nobody watches them. But, what would make you eagerly watch the entire ad and maybe even form an emotional bond between you and the brand after having watched?

The answer is: Familiarity

A recently published research suggests that we tend to trust voices that sound familiar to us. The same applies to the voice talent’s voice we hear on an ad. The audience your advert is addressing needs to hear your message from a voice that can earn their trust. Thus, if a company is expanding overseas and pursuing growth in global markets, the adaptation of ads to local languages as well as marketing strategies must be considered, which is the practice of so-called “localization”.

Some companies translate their ads into the language of the target audiences they want to reach. One might claim that since English is lingua franca and spoken by over 1 billion people as a second language across the world, people can grasp an English ad without needing translation and this is right to an extent. People can translate words in an ad into their own language within seconds, however, would they bother to do so given the fact that they have the option to skip it? Statistics show that:

9 out of 10 Internet users, when given a choice of languages, always prefer visiting a website in their own language.

Here is another one according to research conducted by Nielsen:

75% of customers prefer to buy products in their native language.

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These statistics strengthen the possibility that ad viewers will hit the “Skip Ad” button after a few seconds as long as your ad does not engage them linguistically.

In addition to the language itself, the unique culture of a region should be taken into account in localization. The core message your ad conveys in its original language should be retained while resonating with local audiences. Familiar voices in ads ease digestion of the marketing by target audiences since, as I have mentioned above, it requires nearly no amount of mental work to process a message sent in one’s own language. Moreover, addressing prospective customers in their own local language is an effective way not only to ensure your message is delivered but to strengthen the newly-formed emotional bond between your brand and the potential customers. People will likely associate positive ideas with your product since your brand’s voice sounds similar to a person from their neighborhood whom they can genuinely trust. And we buy brands that we trust.

Simply put, as the world becomes more globalized, consumers hold on tight to the brands that speak with them, not to them. This is why companies prioritizing recognition of regional diversities throughout their journey to globalization, build a bond of trust between the consumers and their brands, and the rest is history.

Even the smallest contribution can have huge repercussions.