Importance of Culture in Website Localisation

Last Updated On: February 20, 2020

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Gaining an understanding of cultural differences and getting to see how different cultures view the world offer a clue to understanding consumers purchasing habits when it comes to international eCommerce. Often a company who intends ongoing global as the competitors have believes that the whole process is quite simple.

Culture in Website Localisation

Some businesses think that the easiest thing to do is to find an e-commerce platform like eBay and translate the product information into the language(s) where the platform operates and leave the platform to do the rest. It has been found that this sort of message doesn’t work as the user experience has to be considered as well.


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    The Sorts of Features that need to be considered are:

    • Adapting to gender and family roles
    • Adapting the imagery of marketing material
    • Adapting the context
    • Adapting the overall values

    If a product is being marketed to a culture where males are seen as more important and may even control spending, this means advertising material should stress the right gender and family roles. Also if people are group-oriented and not individualistic any advertising material should adjust to these sorts of roles.

     Adapting and Translating Slogans, Logos and Brand names in Advertising

    As Pepsi discovered, when they wanted to use a slogan that would attract the youth to drink their product, that was just fine in the U.S. but when the same slogan was translated into the Chinese language, it meant Pepsi “brings ancestors back from the grave.” This not only lost Pepsi’s reputation in China for a while, but sales of the product fell.

    Slogans are created for a specific culture which will appreciate them so they are difficult to translate directly into another language keeping the same meaning. Another well-known example was the Chevy Nova promotion in Latin America because in Spanish the words no VA means “won’t go”. That wasn’t a very good way of promoting a vehicle!

    It is not just slogans that create problems, but logos as well and it is the logo that catches the customer’s attention when a product is seen on a shelf. It is only a good translator who will know whether a logo is in the right colour and shape to match the targeted culture. No business owner is likely to have access to that sort of information. This means ensuring that any translator chosen to do the translation must have the excellent cultural awareness of the cultures the translation is targeting.

    When it comes to the use of brand names, there are often obstacles that need to be overcome. For example, a health drink produced in Slovakia is called urinal, but in many countries, this word refers to a fixture in a male lavatory! You couldn’t use the same brand name in any English speaking country, at least not for a drink! Similarly, Paxon, an Iranian manufacturer, can sell its Barf detergent easily in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries because barf is the word in the Farsi language for snowy. However, Barf in English means to be sick or throw up.

    Colours have different meanings in different Cultures

    Colours in cultures often allude to religion, superstitions or even political persuasions. A well-known example is Orange, which is the name of a European phone company. When it made its presence in the Northern Ireland market, it needed to alter its advertising campaign as the colour orange shows allegiance to Protestants which would be unacceptable.

    There is a Culture of Numbers

    A few cultures have meanings for different numbers. For example, in many English speaking countries, 13 is unlucky. Many people think bad things are likely to happen on the 13th of the month. In China, Japan, Korea and some other Asian areas, the number 4 is unlucky because when pronounced it sounds like death when written in Chinese characters. So it is best to consider numbers when translating and localising marketing materials.


    Taking a brand into a global context requires careful planning and cultural aspects need to be considered when translation and localisation take place. Any research and localisation of marketing materials need to be done before a product is launched into the world market.

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