Learn from Coca Cola, Nike and Nescafé: Localize Your Website

What’s the secret behind the success of major brands’ websites? The moment you visit the Dutch version of the Coca Cola, Nike and Nescafé website, you immediately see relevant content. However, if you visit the Peruvian, Czech or German version of these websites, you will be presented with a completely different website. Some home pages are entirely styled for the holidays, while others are highlighting local initiatives or the consequences of Covid-19. When creating web content, these companies considered what was relevant in the respective countries at that moment in time. They didn’t simply have their website translated. They made their website suitable and appealing to a completely different audience.

No Single Recipe for Success

You’ve probably heard the stories of how Coca Cola uses a different recipe for every country or how McDonald’s products are prepared just a little differently everywhere to ensure success in every region. Sometimes, completely new products are developed to target the local population, such as Coca Cola containing soft-serve ice cream (Hong Kong) or McDonald’s lobster burger (Canada) or tomato/mozzarella calzones (Italy). This product strategy will inherently result in more local buzz and a better connection with the intended audience. This also applies to your website content.

Nike

The Nike marketeers haven’t just looked at what works for a given audience, but they also considered what will NOT work. After the EUFA Euro 2016 finals, they used a picture of the winning Portuguese football team for most home pages, except for the French site.

Why? The French national team lost to the Portuguese. The Nike marketing team assumed the French might not want to be confronted with this loss – a fair assumption. To avoid a negative brand association, Nike opted to use a different image for this home page.

Coffee Culture

Nescafé is another company that strategically addresses global cultural differences, through the different coffee cultures. There are numerous different coffee traditions around the world: sweet coffee served in a cup with floral designs in Istanbul, a quick espresso at a bar in Rome or a welcoming coffee in Brazil. These different traditions have prompted different ways of talking about the product.

Knowing how to describe that special coffee moment correctly is vital. Nescafé put a lot of effort into this. Every country has its own home page, with its own look and welcome message, tailored to the local audience. Nescafé shows it knows both the language and the culture.

International Digital Strategy

Big brands invest a lot of resources into their multilingual digital presence for a reason. 75% of consumers prefers to shop using websites in their native tongue. This means that, for an international marketing strategy, a translated and localized website is crucial for success. These brands try to present a website that feels local, but still retains the same look and marketing power as the original website. Of course, this requires not just choosing the right language, but taking into account how your audience uses their language. As the cherry on the cake, we typically see some unique and locally relevant content too.

Not Just for Commercial Businesses

The main take-away from the major brands’ practices is that researching your audience tends to confer big advantages. A marketing strategy becomes much more effective if the website is targeted more specifically. Avoid a literal translation of your website, but have your website localized by an experienced marketing translation agency instead. Sometimes minor language tweaks can do the trick, but we really recommend learning from Nike and taking the time to avoid any awkward oversights.