It seems that everywhere you turn, you hear the same message: content is king. It’s true: content can be found almost anywhere, from the blogs that we read on a daily basis to instruction manuals to the social media updates posted by our friends and favorite brands.
However, companies looking to globalize their business model often run into a big content-related challenge: localization. It can be tricky to translate certain words and phrases into other languages, especially colloquialisms. While it is critical to have dependable localization professionals working on your localization project, it might be possible to simplify the process through content strategy and standardization.
Standardizing a Localized Content Strategy
In basic terms, a content strategy is a standard or process that defines content in three areas: creation, delivery, and governance. Creation refers to the why element of a specific piece of content: for example, a brochure for a new car created by a car company to tout its benefits over last year's model. Delivery refers to the medium with which the content is delivered: will it be a print brochure, or a web page? Governance refers to the way that content is reviewed and changed, and the workflows that are used in the strategy: one aspect of governance, for example, is whether or not content will be created using agile or traditional workflows.
The end goal of any localized content strategy is to provide users with a more meaningful experience. When a content strategy is standardized, it means that the same principles are applied to the content no matter what market it is present in. For example, car companies that make different kinds of vehicles can decide to standardize their vehicles, which means the same car is sold in every location, or localize their vehicles, by selling different versions of a car to different markets.
Based on these content strategy principles organizations that want to localize their content for a new market can develop their own unique standards for creating localized content. Application of this process then simplifies the localization effort when applied to a large set of documents or manuals relating to a specific concept or idea, because there is already guidance in place about why the content is being created and how it is to be delivered.
Companies that are interested in streamlining their localization process with this approach to content must remember to prepare content for localization based around the needs of their audience. Remember to think about your audience persona and how these personas might vary depending on the languages that they speak. Every part of your strategy for creating and delivering content should be tied back to the end goal of improving user experience: for example, many companies choose to use the agile method as a way to ensure that they can react to feedback from their customers. If you can successfully execute this type of strategy and standardization, there will be a number of benefits.
The Advantages of Content Standardization
One of the most immediate benefits of a localized content strategy and standardization is that you will find fewer errors, because it is easier to check content for accuracy when you have an established set of standards in your strategy. This will help you minimize your localization costs since it means there will be less back and forth between your team and the party that is directly handling your localization efforts.
Additionally, a well-defined content strategy and process will allow you to maintain the integrity of your brand as you enter into new markets. It can be extremely challenging for business content to effectively convey a brand message in a new market: standardization helps to address one facet of this problem by making a brand more recognizable in a new market. While it's true that localized content can be more meaningful, standardization can be better if you want to ensure your brand’s message and symbolism comes across more thoroughly.
Above all, the primary advantage of coming up with a content strategy and standard for some industries is that it can help make it clear how best to enter into a new market. There are some companies, like service businesses or consultants, who would be better off with complete localization, while companies that sell products or commodities might be better off with standardization. When you can gain a good understanding of the best content strategy and standard for your organization, it's much easier to create a plan for localizing your business into a new market.