In the U.S., we’re all very accustomed to seeing the words “Made in China.” We import everything from China. Pens, pencils, books, bicycles…even American flags. (Seriously, I have one. A Realtor stuck it in my lawn on the 4th of July.)
Interestingly at bfw, we actually have a client that exports products to China. The client is Chromalloy, a global company that creates solutions to reduce the operating expense and extend the life of gas turbine engines (the kind of engines you find on airplanes, in aircraft carriers and in power plants around the world).
To help Chromalloy bolster its presence in China, we had to do something we had never done before: launch a website in Chinese.
Now, at this point, I’m going to let you in on a little agency secret that I’ve never shared with anyone: none of us here speak Chinese. Aside from words like “Kung Pao” chicken, “Tsingtao” and “Yao Ming”, most of us would be totally lost on the streets of Beijing. So, admittedly, there was a bit of a learning curve involved.
Fortunately, we had some help. The bfw interactive team worked closely with SynerGlobal, a leading language and content services provider. Together, we localized and translated the site to be locally relevant and culturally targeted.
This may sound pretty simple, however the localization process is actually incredibly detailed. Beyond your basic translation, the process required us to think through cultural considerations that affect GUI design and usability. We had to evaluate imagery to avoid negative cultural bias. And we scrutinized the color palette to be sure that it communicated the same brand image that we’ve established in the U.S. and Europe.
Bill Henkel, bfw’s Senior Manager of Interactive Media, provided a few more specifics: “bfw handled the dynamic portions of the website by means of XML and SQL database integration. Future localization and publishing of dynamic content like press releases will be done via a proprietary back-end administration system. This proprietary system was developed by bfw specifically to handle UTF encoded Chinese characters.”
All in all, it was a tremendous learning experience for us at bfw, and the project has been a 大 success. (大 means “huge” in Chinese.)
Paul Amelchenko is Creative Director at bfw Advertising + Interactive in Boca Raton, Florida. Follow him on Twitter @PaulAmelchenko. bfw Advertising + Interactive is a full service marketing and communications firm with strong competencies in new media. The South Florida advertising agency creates and builds client brands with strategic thinking and on-target creative executions. For more information call (561) 962-3300 or visit www.gobfw.com on the web.