What is proofreading and why is it a necessary step in translation?

Every translator and translation team has their own process in place for delivering what they feel is top quality work. While some translators follow a two-part process that involves translation and proofreading, at Terra Translations we suggest a three step process that includes editing. At first glance, editing and proofreading may seem somewhat redundant, so let’s look at why that isn’t the case, how these steps vary, and why proofreading is such a necessary step in the translation process. 

The Difference Between Editing and Proofreading

The point of undergoing both editing and proofreading is to ensure accuracy and create a quality translation, so it’s not surprising that many people use these terms interchangeably. However, there is a difference between editing and proofreading and they should be treated as separate activities. 

Editing is when you execute changes to the translation and make suggestions to improve the overall quality of the product. Ideally, editing will lead to the translation becoming more consistent, sharper, and error free. An editor typically takes on the following responsibilities: 

  • Doing a bilingual review between the original text and the translated version
  • Identifying and correcting any translation errors
  • Pointing out inconsistencies and adjusting to better suit market and audience needs
  • Ensuring the correct use of language
  • Confirming that the translated message is conveyed correctly in regards to both language and culture
  • Double check that the style is correct and make suggestions to improve it

Proofreading focuses on correcting any superficial errors in the translated content, such as spelling or grammar errors, formatting, punctuation, or syntax. The proofreading process begins once you have a potential “final” version of the content to work with. As this is the final step of the process, the proofreader should read the text and try to make sense of it as if they themselves were the target audience. This is especially helpful as they are the final pair of eyes on the content before submission to the client or publication.

The Importance of Proofreading

Proofreading is such an important step because during translation and editing, your original text can undergo many variations as it is reworded into a different language. When translating, the goal is not to translate word by word but to think how the same message would be said in the target language. During this process, translators may copy structures seen in the source language unintentionally and when the editor is fixing issues like this, they may introduce unintentional mistakes such as typos, double spaces, a missing word, repeated articles, and misplaced commas. These are the type of mistakes that ideally a proofreader will spot and fix.

Proofreading is a valuable step in the translation process and helps lead to an error-free translation product that illustrates how carefully translated the work is and what high quality work the translator does. 

When Should You Proofread?

The proofreading step should be the last part of your quality assurance process. You won’t dive as deep during proofreading as you did during editing. Proofreading gives you a fresh opportunity to catch any mistakes not found in the editing stage and as you’re more focused on looking for superficial errors than making massive changes to the language and expression, it can be easier to catch small errors such as grammatical or spelling ones. 

Ideally, you’ll have a second translator carry out the editing and a third translator take care of the proofreading process, as a fresh set of eyes can more easily spot errors that the first translator and editor may have overlooked. Proofreading is a challenging task and it can be tempting to make changes relating to personal preference, but at that stage the translator should focus on just fixing mistakes and syntax issues.


New to the Industry? Get Ready with this Localization Starter Pack

Does this dialogue look familiar? Or when you read “TM” and “TB”, do you think in trademarks and terabytes? Don’t worry if you can relate to the latter. It’s common for professionals that enter the localization industry to feel a little bit overwhelmed with the usual jargon LSPs use every day. “LSP” is another acronym, but crucial. Language Service Providers are companies that help people, institutions and businesses with their communication needs, providing translation, localization, and many other services that support these endeavors.

Recently, Terra Translations prepared a 101 Seminar to offer general insight to people interested in localization and serve as guidance for industry newcomers so they may smoothly kick-off this fascinating journey of languages, teams and IT. Here we’ll share some of those basic tips, just in case you find yourself in the need of stuffing your own freshman translation backpack.

Starting Line

LSPs are the setting where the action takes place. There are very different types of LSPs, depending on size, location, domain expertise, and offered languages. Some localization companies are global and provide a wide range of services in hundreds of languages, while others specialize in one or a few languages or industries.

MMLSPMassive Multiple Language Service Provider
MLSPMultiple Language Service Provider
RMLSPRegional Multiple Language Service Provider
SLSPLocal In-Country Single-Language Service Provider

No matter their size, localization companies necessarily perform the functions of sales, to establish business relationships with clients, and of Vendor Management (VM). VMs manage and recruit professionals and providers. The other crucial function is the one Project Managers (PMs) play. Let’s take a deeper look at their work.

The Axis: Project Managers

If LSPs are the scenography, PMs are the leading actors of the play. Their function is crucial because they analyze and tackle projects, but also oversee project workflows, considering budget, human and IT resources, time, risks, etc. Surrounding PMs and localization projects, there are—again—a lot of acronyms referring to services and other expressions of day-to-day work. Perhaps the most common ones are TEP (translation, editing, proofreading) and EOB (end of business). If interested, you can find more acronyms and their meaning in the list below:


Tools Matter

Entering the industry implies embracing new and ubiquitous tools: the computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. As with LSPs, there are hundreds of different CAT tools covering different needs, but they all share the same core. They divide source text in strings while displaying source and target text in a bilingual view, making the job easier for linguists. They also integrate translation memories (TM), term bases (TB) and quality assurance (QA) tools features, among many, many other functions. Being familiar with one tool will really help understand the rest of them.

To sum up, we propose these three tips as a starter pack:

  1. Be patient with acronyms and ask or search if you don’t know one. You’ll eventually become one of the characters of the vignette.
  2. Be curious about what PMs do, how, and why. No matter what your job in the industry is, it will be impacted somehow by project management.
  3. Embrace CAT Tools. They are super fun and helpful allies. Maybe you will want to be instantly proficient at three or more, but better do as the ring says: one tool to rule them all. Once you really master one application, you will find the others very similar and accessible.

Good luck!


How Long Does a Translation Project Take?

When you need translation work done, it can be tempting to want to speed up the timeline a bit. Who doesn’t want to wrap up an exciting project as quickly as possible? While these feelings are understandable, trying to cut corners and rush through translation work can lead to less than desired results. Let’s take a look at how long an average translation project takes to complete, as well as how to speed up the process in an effective way. 

How Long Does the Average Translation Project Take to Complete?

How long a translation project takes depends greatly on the word count of the documents that you need translated. On average, a human translator can output 300 words per hour or 2,500 words per day. You also need to factor in some extra time for self-review of the work. After completion of the translation, giving the translator an extra day or two (depending on the final word count) provides time for them to proofread their work completely and allows them to approach their work with a fresh mind to make sure everything is polished.

Of course, this estimate is not a guarantee, but it can give you a general idea of how long a translation project can take to finish.

What Can Affect the Length of the Project?

There are many factors that can affect how long a translation project can take. Here are a few of them to take into consideration when trying to estimate how fast you can get a project completed.

  • Complexity of the text
  • Research requirements 
  • Experience level of the translators
  • Availability of the translator(s) and their current workload
  • Technical issues
  • Linguistic resources
  • Extensive workflow (edition, proofreading, DTP)
  • If a project involves more than one language

How to Speed Up the Process

If you’re looking to speed up your translation project timeline, without sacrificing quality, there are a few elements that can make the process go smoother and quicker. 

While it may be tempting to request a translator work longer hours in order to hasten their turnaround, we don’t advise this. Translation work requires deep focus and attention to detail. You don’t want someone who is overtired working on your translation project. That’s how mistakes can happen

The Takeaway

While it’s impossible to nail down exactly how long a translation project will take without consulting your translation team, you can generally expect translators to output around 2,500 words per day. That being said, trying to cut corners in order to speed up your timeline can lead to quality issues. There are some legitimate steps you can take to help a translator work faster, like implementing CAT tools, so chat with your translation team about what resources they need to help you meet your timeline goals and to get the job done the right way.


The Benefits of Offering Multilingual Customer Support

While the customer may not always be right, they do always deserve the chance to receive quality customer support. Thanks to this digital age we’re living in, your customers have access to plenty of your competitors. To stand out from the pack, you want to ensure they have a good customer experience. This is where multilingual customer support can come to the rescue. Let’s look at the benefits of multilingual customer support and how you can implement it in an affordable way. 

Customers Feel More Comfortable

One of the main benefits of providing multilingual customer support is that you can make your customers feel way more comfortable by providing them with support in their own language. This can especially come in handy when trying to solve a problem the customer is experiencing. Even if a problem hasn’t arised, you can gain a new customer by answering any of their questions they may have about making a purchase with your business in a language that they can easily understand. 

Increases Trust and Loyalty

To keep your customers coming back for more, you’ll want to take steps to increase your brand loyalty. You see a much higher profit when your customers return compared to trying to secure new customers. When you provide your customers with support in their native language, you not only build trust and respect with that customer, but you begin to build that trust within their community. A recent survey found that 67% of customers reported they would switch brands due to a poor customer experience, so providing strong customer support services is key to keeping customers loyal. 

Gives You a Competitive Advantage

Offering multilingual customer support can give your brand a major professional advantage. Intercom found that 70% of their end users felt more loyal to businesses who offered customer support in their native language and that 29% percent of businesses actually lost clients because they didn’t offer multilingual customer support. There is ample opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves from their competition by offering multilingual support, as not enough brands offer this to their customers. 

Grows Customer Base and Sales

SoGoSurvey found that 62% of customers are more likely to tolerate problems with a product if they can access customer support in their native language and 58% are willing to wait longer for customer support in their native language. These numbers show just how easy it is to retain customers and grow sales by offering multilingual customer support.

How to Offer Multilingual Customer Support

Providing multilingual customer support for all of your customers can seem like an overwhelming venture to take on. The good news is, you don’t need to hire live support staff that speaks every language that your customers do. You can start small by targeting your top markets, using chatbots, and implementing an email support system with the help of translators. All of these options provide affordable solutions for creating a multilingual customer support strategy that can help keep your customers happy, engaged, and coming back for more.


Translation Memories: Create, Use, Maintain

Translation memories (TMs) are a recurring star in localization workflows. They can help both clients and translators save time and costs, ensure consistency, and serve as a consultation source. They may be a giving resource, but TMs need to be managed carefully and systematically in order to leverage their utilities and potential. Let’s take a look at how a TM develops throughout time and the best practices for dealing with it.

Too Many Cooks Won’t Spoil the Broth

On some occasions, a TM begins when translators start working on a document from a client or account. While translating, the source segments and their corresponding target text are stored in the same bilingual databases TMs are stored. In other instances, it’s possible to create a TM using past translations with the alignment function or reusing old TMs. With the alignment feature, the CAT tool compares an original document with its translation, finding alignment pairs and storing them in a TM.

After their creation and during the course of projects, a lot of people can have access and modify the TM. For example, not only translators or editors, but also project managers (PMs) may be in charge of overseeing it. Sometimes, due to compatibility, a PM exports, imports, or exchanges TMs, changing formats or settings. The client’s reviewers can also proofread and insert changes in TMs. To keep a useful and healthy resource despite the many people that work with it is possible through good practices of TM management.

Maintaining a TM

In regards to linguistic quality, the role of quality assurance (QA)  managers and editors is crucial. By defining stylistic preferences and reviewing projects, they ensure that documents and hence TMs are consistent, which reduces risks and errors. It’s also possible to entrust TMs proofreading for important clients or accounts, to keep them updated and free of typos and omissions.

Additionally, to avoid error propagation, PMs and vendors need to be cautious with locked segments and context matches that sometimes are not under scope. It’s important to unlock and correct them or let the PMs know that there are errors so that they can evaluate the course of action.

Most TMs can be exported as bilingual files in xliff formats, which allows running QA checks in CAT Tools or in QA automation software to fix consistency or terminology errors, numeric mismatches, typos, tags, etc.

Best Practices

A TM can store years of work, the effort of localization professionals, hours of research, translation, and review. So such a valuable resource implies it’s not affordable to lose it. Keeping backups is a mandatory action when dealing with TMs, such as saving a copy on more than one cloud-based storage or in a local disk. Moreover, being organized with TMs, but also with term bases, references, style guides or whichever resource in hand, we’ll help make them easily available. Defining a naming convention for TMs can be a great place to start: will you organize TMs by account, language pair or domain subject? What’s the best fit for your workflows? Besides, filling thoroughly metadata info will keep TMs classified and easy to find.


Should You Hire a Freelance Translator or a Translation Company?

If you find yourself needing a translator, you may be wondering if you should work with a freelance translator or a translation company. There is no clear cut answer to this question, because both options have some really amazing benefits for you to consider. That being said, there are reasons why one option may be better for you than the other. Let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to work with freelancers or a translation company so you can make the right call for your business. 

Working with Freelancers

Freelance translators can be very helpful and valuable when translation services are required. If you need the translation of a very technical or specialized subject matter, it makes sense to go to the expert. Chances are, there’s a great freelancer out there who can fit your language, culture, and industry needs, no matter how niche they are. 

Freelancers are known for putting in a lot of effort to keep their clients happy and don’t shy away from hard work. For example, if you need a certified translation of a legal document, when you work with a freelance translator who specializes in legal documents, they will work very closely with you to make sure the documents that require translation (birth certificates, marriage certificates, academic certificates, etc.) are not an obstacle towards getting a scholarship or your dream job abroad.

Despite the many benefits of working with a freelance translator, sometimes you might need more than they can provide. You may have a project on your hands that is on the more complex side and that requires many steps that would be better handled by a translation company. 

Here’s some examples of when a workload may be too much for a single freelancer to handle. A brochure may require a DTP step at the end. Marketing campaign materials could require a back translation performed by a different linguist. If the materials are for publication, then you probably need a translation, editing, and proofreading workflow (aka the TEP process). It may also be the case that you need materials translated into several languages. 

All of these are examples of tasks that require the expertise of several different professionals. In other words, a project may require a dedicated team that can help you complete it from start to finish. The last thing you want to do is have to hire and manage multiple freelancers who will work separate from each other. A translation company will fill your project management needs and make sure the work is cohesive throughout the project. 

Working with Translation Companies

As previously noted, translation companies are experts at managing large translation projects. They can handle the whole project management process from start to finish. From the first scope analysis, to establishing the right workflow, to creating timelines, to selecting the right team of linguists, to making sure everything gets done in time.

Translation companies also employ in-house teams which ensures staff availability even when there’s a high volume project. These teams are dedicated to you and will be there for you long term. You won’t need to worry about inconsistency or new translators not knowing the specific needs or requirements of your projects.

Because of the organized processes translation companies have in place to ensure quality (such as ISO, which is a top industry standard) and the professionals they work with, they can achieve the highest quality for their customers.

Which is Right For You

We can’t make this call for you, your translation solution totally depends on your company’s needs and the specific requirements of the project. Choose carefully to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and that you’re happy with the end product!


Transcription Services 101: Clean Verbatim and Full Verbatim

Transcription services can take important audio and video content and turn it into a convenient and accessible text file that is easy to distribute, search, and save for future needs. There are two types of transcription services that you’ll come across. Full verbatim transcription (also known as strict verbatim or verbatim transcription) and clean verbatim transcription (also known as non-verbatim or intelligent verbatim transcription). Let’s examine how these two transcription types differ and what factors can influence the quality of a transcription project. 

Full Verbatim Transcription

When you undergo a full verbatim transcription, the goal is to do a word-for-word transcription of the spoken language. This includes filler words like “um”, incomplete sentences, and even sounds like throat clearing and laughter. 

Generally, full verbatim transcription is used when the behavior and reactions of the person(s) being recorded, such as in police investigations, court cases, and market research studies. This is the most expensive type of transcription to undertake as it typically takes the longest to perform. Let’s look at an example of what a full verbatim transcription can look like. 

While that type of text is difficult to read, you can see how the filler words and pauses show uncertainty on the speaker’s part. While pauses and mispeaking in a business presentation may be chalked up to nerves, in a police investigation those signs of uncertainty might be a lot more meaningful. 

Clean Verbatim Transcription

Clean verbatim transcription filters the spoken language a bit, as the main purpose of this type of transcription is to extract the meaning of what was being said. During a clean verbatim transcription, filler words, pauses, and sounds like coughing or sighing will be omitted. The transcriber may even edit the text a bit to correct sentences for grammar or to eliminate irrelevant words or sentences. 

Clean verbatim transcription is used when the meaning of what was said is more important than the exact wording that occurred, such as when transcribing business presentations or medical diagnoses. In these cases understanding the text and being able to easily read it is more important than the reactions of those that were speaking and it’s not helpful to have every pause or self-correction noted. Let’s look at the same transcribed text from early, but from a clean verbatim perspective. 

You can see how in this example, the text is cleaned up and all the key information is clarified. 

Where Timestamps and Audio Quality Come Into Play

With either type of transcription, two things you’ll need to take into consideration are how timestamps and audio quality can impact the final transcription product. 

One way the transcriptionist can help deliver a quality product is by time-stamping the typed copy. This really comes in handy when managing a video transcription project as you can connect dialogue with the relevant visual sections of the file. Timestamps can be vital when dealing with foreign-language dialogue applied to video as it helps keep the spoken and visual elements of the file in sync — this also applies to subtitles. A transcriptionist must time-stamp the text version and depending on the purpose of the transcription, timestamps can be applied every one or two minutes or every time a new speaker starts talking, it really depends on the project’s unique requirements.

The quality of the audio file can also greatly impact a transcription project. Professional transcriptionists can only do so much if the file they have been given is poor quality. They need to be able to clearly understand what is being said so they can transcribe it properly. You’ll want to consult your transcriptionist first to make sure you’re both on the same page about what you can achieve. There are some workarounds for small quality issues. If the bad quality audio only happens occasionally in an audio file — for example an ambulance on the street for just 10 seconds — the transcriptionists will add “[unintelligible]” and continue transcribing once the speech becomes intelligible again. But if the whole audio is difficult to understand, then the quality of the transcription will be impacted.


How to Handle Queries Efficiently During a Translation Project

Communication is key. That’s a solid rule most of us know is a good idea. That being said, in the hustle and bustle of a big translation project it can be easy to let good communication habits slip. But when clients, project managers, and linguistic teams all need to stay on the same page, it is especially important to facilitate organized and effective communication between the translators and the client. This is where “query sheets” come in.

When working on a project with multiple collaborators, you may come across a query sheet. Essentially, a query sheet is a centralized place where those working on complex projects can organize questions and comments from all parties involved in the project.

Multiple people can collaborate in a query sheet, which can make it easy to get disorganized. Here are a few tips for managing queries efficiently and effectively:

1. Keep it Digital

Choosing to use a virtual tool that multiple users can access from anywhere at any time, that makes global updates (aka there is one draft that updates whenever anyone makes a change) is a super important element needed to make sure a query sheet stays up to date and functioning. Google Sheets is a good example of a digital tool you can utilize to build a query sheet. Because it’s saved in the “cloud” you don’t have to worry about a computer crashing and losing work or someone accidentally deleting the document off their computer. With web-based spreadsheets like Google Sheets, you can see changes to the spreadsheet automatically happening in real-time. Keeping things digital is also a great way to avoid the hassle of saving, downloading, and emailing documents again and again every time an update is made.

2. Encourage Collaboration

One of the main benefits of a query sheet is how collaborative they are. If you’re working on projects with multiple linguists across several languages, it is important that everyone is able to read all notes and take any questions or answers shared with the group into account. A high level of collaboration can not only help provide clarity, but can streamline operations. If a translator sees a question has already been asked and answered in the query sheet, they won’t need to ask the same question again. Make it clear that you want everyone on your team to utilize this resource and to create a collaborative dialogue about the project. 

If the scope of the project involves translators speaking multiple languages, it can be wise to avoid creating different sheets for different languages as tempting as that may be. Doing so will lessen the collaborative approach that makes a query sheet so valuable. 

3. Question Carefully

When using a query sheet, it’s important to keep in mind the intention of the document, which is to ask questions. Each query included in the document should be structured in a clear and concise way. That way, clients or other teammates can easily answer these questions in a productive fashion. Adding notes like “this sentence isn’t translatable” doesn’t pose a solvable question or present a possible solution. It would be better to say, “this sentence isn’t translatable in the target language for x reason, can we transcreate and say y instead?”. It’s okay if the question posed only needs a yes or no answer, simplicity can get the job done. 

It’s also helpful to think carefully before adding a question to the query sheet. While we would like to say there is no such thing as a stupid question, there are questions that will be a burden to a queery sheet and not a productive addition. 

Before asking a question, consider the following solutions:

  • Did I research this issue thoroughly?
  • Does the client’s style guide provide an answer?
  • Is the answer in the project instructions?

It’s always better to ask a client a question if you’re unsure of their answer before playing the guessing game. But if you can find the answer on your own first, that’s even better.


Pros & Cons: In-House Translators vs. Freelance Translators

Whether you crave the stability of a nine to five or like to hit the road and let the world be your office, you may find working as a linguist or translator suits your needs. While some benefit more strongly from being in-house or working as a freelancer, there are some pretty solid pros for translators considering either option. Of course, there are a few downsides we’ll cover too, but let’s try to keep things positive!

In-House Translators

Working as an in-house translator is probably a bit easier to picture for most as many have held full-time in-house positions before. 


  • Fixed income. One of the main perks of working in-house is the income stability it provides. You know exactly how much money you’re going to earn each year and have consistent paychecks coming in. You’ll also qualify for unemployment in the event you do lose your job, which can be trickier for freelancers to obtain. 
  • Benefits. In-house employees typically have access to benefits that freelancers don’t such as healthcare, retirement, paid vacation, and more. 
  • Convenience. When you work in-house, there is no need to worry about the logistics of running a freelance business. There are other employees that will handle things like accounting, marketing, and looking for new clients.
  • Teamwork. You can rely on a team of peers to help you complete big projects. There’s no need to wear all the hats, which freelancers often have to do. When you need to take time off, ideally there will be someone there to cover your workload. And if you need help with a tricky project, you should have teammates you can lean on. You can learn from each other and grow together. 
  • Professional development. Typically in-house employees receive valuable training from those who are further along in their careers. Many companies invest in employee professional development on an ongoing basis. The company may offer to send you to conferences, to pay for educational resources, and to train you in new skillsets.


  • Less flexibility. Some in-house employees may have to work in a specific office each day at an agreed upon schedule. Not to mention, there are dress codes and other office rules to worry about. That being said, while most in-house translators used to work in a company office, nowadays it’s very common for them to work from home.
  • Cap on earnings. While working in-house provides stability, in many ways you have less control over your earnings. Freelancers have lows, but they can also have major highs. 
  • Less autonomy. When in-house, you typically have to do as you’re told. You may have little control over what types of projects you work on and might have to follow company protocols.

Freelance Translators

If you haven’t worked as a freelancer before, it can be hard to picture what that career path looks like. There are some major benefits of freelancing worth considering, but there are also some downsides that not everyone is ready to handle. 


  • Ultimate flexibility. Want to work by the seaside today and in a mountain cabin tomorrow? No problem. Are you a night owl who does your best work when everyone else is asleep? Good for you. Don’t like a client or aren’t interested in certain types of projects? Send them packing. As a freelancer you’ll be able to decide when and where you work, who you work with, and what your vacation schedule looks like. 
  • You’re the boss. Freelancing is essentially running a very small business of one. You’re a business owner, even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside, which means you get to do things your way. 
  • Earning potential. Freelancers get a bad rap as being “underemployed” at times, but many freelancers can tell you that when you’re retaining the whole profit from a project (and your company isn’t taking a cut) that your income can soar. You get to set your rates and can choose to only take on projects that work for your budget. 


  • Stability not guaranteed. Working as a freelancer provides a lot of excitement and the wins can feel really big since they’re all your own, but a stable income is not guaranteed. This can be challenging for people on a tight budget or who have a family to support. 
  • No benefits. You’ll have to purchase your own benefits and accept that there is no such things as a paid vacation anymore. It’s important to remember to aim to make more than you would in-house in order to pay for benefits yourself. 
  • Loneliness. Working as a freelancer can be lonely at times. If no one else in your household works from home or if you live alone, you may find you have a lot of solitude on your hands. The lack of teamwork can also feel very isolating. 
  • Out of pocket expenses. Office supplies, computers, and professional development will all have to come out of your pocket which can sting a bit.

The Takeaway

There is no “better” option here. Both in-house and freelance translators have some major perks to look forward to. At Terra, we employ in-house linguists as well as collaborate with freelancers. So whatever your preferences are, we can work together. The key is to find which is the best fit for your goals, personality, and lifestyle!


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.