Global pharma communications: Trouble-free localization

Blog_icon_trouble_free_localizationLocalization doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With a clear and structured process it’s possible to avoid problems before they occur – delivering projects on time and on budget.



What can go wrong

Localization – the translation and adaptation of content for local markets – can cause all kinds of problems. Without a clear process in place, it can quickly become a logistical nightmare – and one complicated by the number of markets involved.

The result? Costs can quickly spiral with unplanned rounds of changes, timelines get thrown out the window, messages get distorted – all straining the relationship between headquarters and local markets.

Getting the basics right

With localization, it is far easier to avoid issues than it is to fix them. For a smooth process, it pays to get the basics in place.

  • Understand that localization is essentially about internal alignment. Most problems arise through misunderstandings and therefore can be avoided with good communication.
  • Ensure that local markets support the project. Explain the process fully so colleagues know what is expected – and confirm that they have allocated sufficient resources to achieve it.
  • Understand the basics of digital communication, particularly the vital role that the storyboard plays.
  • Design with localization in mind. Designers, techs and strategists all need to consider it. Things like insufficiently large text fields that fail to accommodate translation, texts being programmed as an image, lack of space for references, are all problems that can be avoided.
  • Share the budget between headquarters and local markets. If you are solely responsible for all costs, this can encourage continual change requests. Sharing costs keeps things on track.

The ideal localization process

Anthill uses a digital content localization process that has been demonstrated to produce stress-free projects time and again.

  1. Start with an approved digital master presentation in English and a storyboard that exactly matches it. The storyboard, usually a PDF document, details all the content and functionality.
  2. Share the master digital presentation and the storyboard with local markets. This enables people to both understand the look and feel and see everything specified in a single document.
  3. Markets then mark up the storyboard with any changes. This could include deleting slides, adding functionality or altering the design to fit local needs.
  4. The agency then reviews these requests with headquarters and produces local versions of the storyboard – still in English.
  5. The local markets can now approve their updated storyboards.
  6. Following local market approval, the agency programs local versions of the digital presentation. Now local markets can make their translations.
  7. If a translation agency is used, it is vital that there is a local review (fixing problems later is far more expensive).
  8. Local markets then forward their approved translations to your digital agency. At Anthill, we created an online tool called Localizer which eases this process.
  9. Beta versions are now created. Anthill provides markets with both a digital version (for viewing on e.g. an iPad) and a screenshot document that is easily shared for final approval.
  10. Delivery of the final materials (and perhaps a celebration for a job well done).

The benefits of a clear process

Localization can be a hassle but really doesn’t have to be. Having an experienced partner working with a structured process makes it possible to finalize localization in as little as six weeks. Cutting corners, or skipping steps, always stores up problems for the future – potentially delaying projects for many months.

Anthill has worked on many multi-market localizations. Contact us to learn how we can help you avoid the pitfalls and speed up your process.

>>> Contact Anthill

More articles in this series

This was the final part of this digital marketing series. If you’ve missed an instalment, all materials are available on our HQ Marketing page.

>>> Access all materials here



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