How to Create an Effective Culturalization Strategy

We live in a very large world and part of what makes it so beautiful is how different we all are. Understanding and embracing these differences can bring us much closer together. As we’ve discussed recently, culturalization is a translation process that can help content thrive in a new target market by taking that market’s unique culture into account. If you’ve decided to enact a culturalization strategy for your next translation project (good choice!), then there are a few things you should keep in mind. Primarily, you should be aware of the differences between proactive and reactive culturalization and how they can affect your strategy. 

Proactive Culturalization

A proactive culturalization strategy focuses on creating content that customers in a new market will gain a lot out of because the content is geared towards their culture. Oftentimes, culturalization is used to create stronger creative content that is more likely to thrive in a new market. With movies, this may involve changing a character’s name, the title of the movie, and some jokes or references made throughout. Here are a few examples of how a proactive culturalization strategy can come into play.

  • Music. Most people have strong cultural and emotional ties to music, so adjusting the music to appeal to a specific culture can instantly make content feel more personalized. 
  • Local references. Food, clothing, decor, and architecture can all vary greatly from culture to culture. In content like video games, it is possible to make changes in these areas, which can make the world feel more immersive for the player. 
  • Monetization. Yes, even money comes into play here. For example, when making in-app purchases, some cultures prefer to use gift cards over credit cards. Certain cultures struggle more financially than others and may require a different pricing model to be successful. Taking how money works into account can make it easier to obtain more sales. 

Reactive Culturalization

A reactive culturalization strategy focuses on making sure that the content being released in a new culture doesn’t cause offense or harm local sensibilities. When planning a reactive culturalization strategy, you’ll essentially be auditing content to see where cultural pitfalls may be waiting. If you offend a target market with your product, not only will the success of your product be compromised, but you risk tarnishing your brand name in that culture or having to do an expensive recall in order to smooth things over. 

A reactive culturalization content audit will typically focus on the following areas:

  • Religious sentiments, especially if the religion in question doesn’t believe in their religious figures or literature being featured in entertainment content. 
  • Historical references that some cultures have different views on or that can upset a large group of people. 
  • Political references that are divisive. 
  • Small cultural preferences that may come off as rude, condescending, insensitive, or discriminatory. 

Next Steps

Which approach should you take? Well, that depends entirely on the type of content you are taking to the new market. If it’s a highly creative style of content, whose purpose is to engage the audience, then we suggest you go the extra mile and be proactive about taking culturalization steps. That way, you can ensure that the consumer really connects with your content. On the other hand, if the purpose of the material is not completely dependent on the target audience that is engaging with it, then it’s okay to simply be aware of any content elements that could potentially be perceived as offensive and plan to do something about it to prevent any backlash.

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