A new debate is unfolding these days amidst geologists, marine scientists, and curious people.
A continent adjoining New Zealand may soon add itself to the good old list of seven continents we have grown up remembering so far. It would be fascinating in the context of global contours as well as from the perspective of the evolution of land mass and mountain-ranges. But what it won’t affect too much is this – the business atlas.
The world has already turned from seven continents to one – the global village – with fast-dissolving business boundaries. Geography is no more a determinant of a company’s success or failure. But interestingly and ironically, the languages inside borders do affect the fate of a business to a vast extent. That is where the role of translation comes into picture – whether it is a translation from Dutch to English or any language to any other language.
So a brand may catapult its anchors towards far-off lands without any worry today, thanks to the ever-expanding impact of technology, new geopolitical currents, and customers’ increasing taste palate. But while a brand may set foot on new sands without any worry of entry, things are not so sure when it comes to the exit part.
Language is still a pivotal ingredient in approaching and engaging customers across new shores. A Dutch brand can go international but not until it can translate Dutch to English across the entire gamut of its communication and content pillars. Whether it is software localization, website translation, automatic app updates, branding material, advertisements, official correspondence or even grievance-redressal – the Dutch brand would have to translate to English, and beyond the superficial layer. The translation exercise has to be continuous, consistent, real-time, deep, empathetic, and really nuanced if the brand wants to make an actual connection with people beyond the countries that speak Dutch.
Similarly, for someone who is well-entrenched as a global brand, but wants to penetrate European markets in a much deeper way than before, there would be a compelling need to undertake translation touching the entire array of content that speaks to the new audience. For a brand, no matter how successful in the UK for instance, there would be not much attraction in an alien market like Spain, if it does not translate English to Spanish adequately to connect to and engage with the people in Spain.
It will be a very expensive area of neglect if any seemingly tiny detail is left out from the radar of translation. A Spanish speaking user would not accommodate a FAQ or app alert in English, especially as other brands are ready and well-equipped to cater to this user in the language s/he understands and prefers.
Poorly-executed or shallow translation would find no place in making a real impact and connection with people from a new place. Translation loss, leaks, mistakes and syntactic alignment are factors that may seem not-too-strategic, but when handled sloppily, they can inflict irreparable harm on a brand’s image.
For a brand, that aspires to touch new segments and stretch its lifecycle as well as adoption-footprint; translation takes on the attire of quite a significant tool that can’t be done at the last minute. The entire process and perimeter of one’s content and marketing has to be redone with the eyes and ears of the new segment and hence, the new language in question. What works for software may not work for an app, if the proxy is good for a passive website – it may work in an adverse way for a dynamic one. What works for the Netherlands – may completely bounce off in Barcelona; and so on.
Zealandia or no Zealandia, do not jump onto new continents without studying the topography well and without that gear called translation.
The world is one but language holds the keys for navigation in business.