Localisation 101: How translation can transform you into a global brand

Fashion, Localisation | |

It’s official: this season’s hottest trend is localisation. Is it a new style of jacket? A way to wear your hair? Or, perhaps, the latest in tech footwear? Localisation is none of these things, and yet, it could be all of these things, all across the world.

You’ve got your brand identity, your target demographic, the key pieces of the new collection featured on you homepage – domestic sales are going through the roof. But what about the rest of the planet?

Translation for the Nation

It’s no coincidence that Vogue, the world’s most notable fashion publication, is printed in 23 different regional and national editions worldwide. Fashion brands need to speak to customers in their mother tongue. By catering to linguistic preferences and jargon they can really engage with their local market.

Consistency remains crucial to any globalisation strategy, with unity of message, style and values, but balance is needed between unified brand voice and customisation due to regional interests. Each international market is unique, and varies in language, behaviour and jargon, so what suits one market may not suit another.

It’s easy for fashion brands to make mistakes when localising for countries that share the same language – American English and British English, for example. An American customer may search for ‘pants’, ‘sneakers’ and ‘suspenders’ whereas a British customer would search for ‘trousers’, ‘trainers’ and ‘braces’.

Every Country Needs You

Global brands must adapt their local e-commerce sites to cater for the needs of the country. The language of fashion is highly specialised, so effective localisation is critical in ensuring that the correct product vocabulary is used. If you take a look at leading US fashion brands selling in non-English markets, you often find a finely balanced mix of commonly used English terms (which are understood and used internationally) and country-specific terms.

At Ralph Lauren’s French website (, for example, side by side on the women’s product menus we see “Vestes & Manteaux” (Jackets & Coats) and “Pulls & Cardigans” – a careful choice of vocabulary no doubt based on a careful assessment of French consumer expectations. In the online marketplace, the use of highly ranked search terms specific to geographical markets is essential to driving traffic and sales. In short, fashion brands ignore localized SEO at their peril.

Of course, vocabulary is only one element of localisation focus. Other aspects such as size and currency need to be altered to be relevant for the target audience. In addition, user-generated content, such as blogs and videos, should also undergo localisation. The most successful global brands test each country’s website content with local consumers prior to launch.

Global Social Media Experts

Over the last few years, social media has shaken up the fashion industry, fuelling the notion of ‘fast fashion’ and making ‘time to market’ a thing of the past. Any fashion PR company worth its salt now employs social media gurus to produce swathes of content for their clients, so the likes of Burberry are creating as much social content as they are pattern-based scarves and trenchcoats. But like all other content, social media material needs to be localised so it can resonate with local markets, anywhere in the world.

Alpha has responded to these developments in the market by setting up its own in-house lifestyle division, designed to create synergy across all of Alpha’s fashion, luxury and lifestyle brand clients.

Specialising in all aspects of traditional marketing, social media and e-commerce business, Alpha has a proven track record in creating, editing and managing localised content for brands which are household names and those who are champing at the bit to the next big thing. The question you now have to ask yourself is: are you ready to join these ranks? All you have to do is drop us an email: