María Palomares Tarí
LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE GOING GLOBAL
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
If your brand has become nationally acclaimed, then it’s time to go one step further and consider expanding your business globally. However, it is a well-known fact that to make your mark in a foreign market means to deal with language and/or cultural barriers .
According to statistics, almost 50% of executives interviewed admitted that language misunderstandings are the main reasons for failed international business deals, resulting in significant losses for their company. Here are some tips and strategies you can adopt to get past these obstacles. Check them out!
1. Culture matters
Finding the adequate information about the local market of the country where you wish to expand is essential. Cultural differences in business can be tremendous and lead to unavoidable complications. Culture involves religion, cuisine, social habits, music, arts and of course language, hence why it is important to keep in mind that what works to attract customers in one country may not in another.
Bridging the language gap is extremely important in corporate talks, as well as cultural sensitivity is imperative when engaging in cross-cultural business. The cultural differences can range from etiquette in the workplace to negotiating styles or even different meanings of cues. There can be cross-cultural challenges even from one city to another. Don’t forget, details make the difference!
2. Consider language for global connectivity
When initiating global growth for business it is necessary to manage your global content as you devise a globalization strategy. But how is it achievable?
With over 6000 languages in the world and an ever-changing international landscape, it may seem difficult to choose the languages that will create the greatest impact on your business.
In addition to knowing which languages currently dominate relationships in the international market – such as Mandarin, English, Spanish or Arabic - it is very important to have a vision of the future and see which ones will make a name for themselves later on. Languages such as Portuguese, Russian, German, French and Japanese are growing exponentially. And don't underestimate Hindi, it might surprise you!
3. Don’t get lost in translation
Once you have chosen your working languages based on your target market, proper and accurate translation will be essential to succeed. It has been proven countless times that not translating professionally your content can cost your business a fortune. Dealing with the translation of technical business terminology by yourself can lead to misunderstandings, costing you important clients and business opportunities. For this reason, when translating your marketing and specific content into a foreign language it is beneficial to use professional translators with knowledge and experience.
There are computer translation programs available, but did you know that the human brain is required to differentiate terms in context? If your aim is to accurately replicate your company’s message and text style, choose a translation service provider that uses human translation. Providing high quality translation will also improve your reputation.
"Language and culture are the frameworks through which humans experience, communicate and understand reality."
LEV VYGOTSKY, 1968
When not properly handled, languages and cultural barriers create challenges for businesses looking to properly communicate with their overseas partners. Nevertheless, these considerations along with the right amount of time, dedication and market awareness (local and global) can give new heights to your company or business as it grows on an international level. Now you are one step closer!
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