Posted Tuesday, October 5, 2004
In September 2004, the US based meta search Engine Dogpile announced that is was changing its name to WebFetch in Europe and the UK. This change is a perfect example of the cross cultural issues language can pose for international businesses.
Website localization and internationalization is the process whereby an English, US or UK, focused website is translated into another language to target a foreign audience. However, it is not as straight forward as mere translation of the content. There are dozens of cross cultural issues that need to be considered.
The cross cultural issues of note are the use of pictures, graphics, logos, colours and content. For example, a website aimed at an Arab audience should avoid pictures of scantily clad women, in India it would be best to avoid logos with cows as they are considered holy and in China the use of the colour red would be positive as it is a lucky colour. Prior to undertaking a localization project it is therefore wise to get a cross cultural consultant to address any potential issues.
In addition to the above examples of cross cultural issues, one must always take into consideration the impact of language. Dogpiles mistake is an excellent example of how even within the English language cross cultural issues can arise. Imagine therefore the possibilities of cross cultural blunders across different languages.
Dogpile is but one example of a company name that is acceptable in its native country, in this case the US, but has different connotations elsewhere. It must have been have come as some surprise to the owners of Dogpile that in the UK, surfers of the net were giggling at their sites name. Dogpile in the UK could mean one of two things: 1) the result of a dog relieving itself or 2) the canine version of haemorrhoids.
In order to be taken seriously, the search engine has taken the correct step in changing its name to WebFetch and adds credence to the role of cross cultural communication consultancies in international business.
About the Author
Neil Payne is Director of Kwintessential Ltd.