I have heard so many companies ask "Why isn't this working in Asia? It has been working brilliantly for our company for years!"
Fine, guilty as charged - I have asked that same question in the past.
Localising your business is one of the trickiest and overlooked aspects of business expansion. To many, localising means translating, word by word. But this is a trap that can be extremely frustrating.
This article has highlighted some misunderstandings that global companies face when localising their websites and brands. What came to my mind immediately is how much "cuter" and "animated" sites in Asia are.
While many in the West would see cartoons and animations on a professional website as ... well... very unprofessional, in Asia, animated figures and cartoon characters speak louder than certificates and guarantees.
For instance, one of the biggest drugstore and personal care chains in Hong Kong uses a fluffy ginger cat as a brand ambassador and that's all we remember. Out of every business aspect of a supposedly reliable business, we remember that fluffy ginger cat.
So when you are looking to localise your brand and look for talent, be sure to talk to people who know the market well. Choose a partner who has demonstrated success and gained recognition in what they do in that region. It will make everything so much easier.
Forgetting to account for cultural context in visual design There generally is not enough design, content, or cultural context consideration for different markets in web design. Instead, the focus tends to default to the digital experience for wherever the company is headquartered and then lightly adapted for other markets. Nuance is everything, so plan for a full-scale sensitivity review, vetting with an eye toward cultural nuances throughout every step of the design process, such as appropriate language, imagery, content, navigation structure, and iconography. For example, in designing the One&Only Resorts site, all markets – including the Middle East and Asia market--were considered so we could tailor the design appropriately. Do the hard work of determining if there are any restrictions that might make it difficult to launch product or brand in a new country.