Every day, more and more business managers and professional communicators look for resources to localize multimedia content for Latin America. Considering the expense of producing the content, and the size of the potential customer base in this region, chances are your company is joining the trend.
While the idea of reaching over 600 million new customers is certainly alluring, marketing managers and content professionals looking to publish videos, webinars, online training, and interactive documentation online should take great care when venturing into multimedia localization. Challenges in managing a localization project include both the technical and the cultural: to produce content using the latest technology while accommodating countless cultural differences.
But do not fear, as these challenges are not insurmountable! In fact, if you follow a few straightforward principles, your company can create relevant and rewarding multimedia content that is as enthusiastically embraced by your new Latin American audiences as it is by the customers in your home market. This is why we’ve gathered the best advice for localizing your multimedia content for Latin America, and keeping your sanity in the process.
Remember this simple rule for localization projects: Learn first, localize for Latin America later. Take the time to learn about the region and its specific markets before you start your translation effort because it varies tremendously and a misstep could damage your company in reputation, customers, and revenue. You’ll want answers to some key questions: How has history shaped local views and language? Which language do residents speak, and with what accents and dialects? Do they have preferences for tone and imagery? Would they rather hear voice-over speaking or read subtitles?
Once you have the learning well in hand, you’re ready for our Top 10 Multimedia Localization Best Practices for Latin America:
1. With So Much Culture, Ensure your Vendor is a Specialist
Readers mentally localize your text in their own accent, tone and pacing. They apply their cultural preferences to the text, as long as it is written correctly. We don’t typically think about this fact, but it’s a free service readers provide to all localized copy. However, the multimedia elements of images and audio force the audience to hear and see the content on the terms of the producer, not the consumer. So you must take care to find the right voice quality, accent, and gender to truly localize your message. To incorporate these qualities in your localized multimedia content, you must work with a translation and localization vendor that is an expert in Latin America, one who understands your target audience and what works best in that specific market. These vendors can provide culture-specific information, and numerous voice-over options to ensure that you find the perfect fit for your brand and message.
2. Local Content Requires Local Voices
Now that we’ve convinced you to find a vendor that provides many options, it’s time to recommend that you make certain the voice-over talent is local to the target Latin American region. Spanish sub-variants differ greatly from each other and each country has its own vocabulary, tone, and even speed. While all Brazilians speak the same language, accents vary from one region to the other. In a country whose territory is virtually half of Latin America, don’t take this for granted.
3. It’s A Woman’s World
Understanding local tastes and norms are essential to localizing multimedia content. Without local expertise, you risk broad, sweeping assumptions about your content’s appeal–even if some generalizations hold true. For example, many Latin American cultures are more matriarchal than those in Asia and the United States, so female voice-overs are more accepted and welcomed. Also, unlike some European countries and the US, most Latin American audiences are very accustomed to subtitles. So you could select a female voice-over talent, or decide to go only with subtitles, but until you and your localization vendor do the research, there’s no way to be certain.
4. To Save Time and Money, No Cosmetic Changes
Post-approval updates are costly in any situation, but they’re especially expensive in multimedia localization: one change in language, tone or imagery can ripple through all parts of the translation effort, from scripts and video to the recorded audio. Additional studio time can be costly; your selected voice talent could fall sick; or your delayed video could lose virality. Make it a standing rule with all your internal reviewers: when it’s approved, it’s approved—no preferential or minor changes allowed.
5. In Latin America, Size Does Matter
Remember, many Latin American cultures are very comfortable with, and sometimes prefer, subtitles to voice-overs. But if your training webinar or how-to video requires audio localization, make certain you understand the characteristics of the target language to ensure that the video, presentation slides, background images or onscreen text remain synched to the narration. English to Portuguese and Spanish translations can add up to 20% to the recording length. You’ll need to counter this expansion of the narration by either rewriting the audio or modifying pacing of images in the final cut.
6. Mistakes Happen, Secure That Voice
Earlier, we recommended that companies manage multimedia localization project costs by requiring sign-off and final approvals before starting the work. But, sometimes post-production changes are necessary. While any post-recording audio updates can be costly, they become far more expensive if your voice-over talent is not available for the re-recording, since you will have to start from scratch. So be certain that the contract you sign with your localization vendor includes a reasonable period of time for corrections and updates. With the same voice talent!
7. Pronunciation Guide: Your Text, Your Voice
You know it’s important to provide a style guide to your translator to ensure correct phrasing and adherence to your stylistic choices. In multimedia localization it’s doubly important to provide a pronunciation guide since your words won’t only be seen, they’ll also be heard. Include brand names, technical terms, acronyms, English terms that should not be translated, and anything out of the ordinary in the pronunciation guide. If possible, schedule a special review for the team and talent to ensure your choices are well understood.
8. Transcribe, Timestamp, Translate
Often translation of the audio begins without a script, which means that the final recorded product could be the only localized content available. If you have time and can afford the extra cost, ask your vendor to transcribe the source content and deliver it with the translated script, especially if you will need to localize it to other languages. In addition to the transcription, we recommend asking for timestamps to be included in the text. While the content transcription allows for future use, timestamps help video engineers synchronize the audio to the images during post-production.
9. Text is Your Audio’s Best Company
With transcripts you can save on large multimedia localization projects by making the most of your vendor’s expertise in translation memory, but there are additional benefits as well. Publishing the text version of the translated audio with your video content helps with search engine optimization, and improves accessibility for people with a hearing loss. Even better, the transcripts can include metadata to help with indexing in knowledge management and content management systems, and you can also leverage it for articles, blog posts and other promotional material to support your marketing campaigns.
10. Check Twice, Publish Once
Translation companies work hard to ensure that they produce great localized content, but you shouldn’t trust your valuable content to only their internal processes. Before publishing localized work, make sure a local expert has checked it for accuracy. In an age of social media and the ‘easy to share’ world, a mistake in phrasing, tone, pronunciation or imagery could go from a minor faux pas to a public relations nightmare almost instantaneously. Larger companies with a distributor or a local market office can work with in-house resources for quality assurance (QA) checks. Smaller companies may need to secure a third party for the reviews, or have the localization vendor provide QA from an outside source.
It’s less and less acceptable to provide only the written word. Don’t underestimate the rewards of higher search engine rankings and statistics. PRNewswire found multimedia content is shared 3.5x more than static text, and that it secures almost 5x more views per post. That makes the rewards from localizing multimedia content easy to calculate, justify and embrace.
With multimedia content, however, your company must address concerns with tone, pronunciations, and context to ensure that the content so carefully crafted in the original language also delivers the desired effect and message in the target market. If you follow these best practices when localizing your multimedia content for Latin America, you are half-way through. Then all you have to do is find the right localization partner to help you reach the finish line.
This article was originally published in the June 2014 issue of Brand Quarterly.