Whether you plan on branding your business in the near future or are already engaged on the market, designing a logo with localization in mind can increase your chances of international success. According to Fit Small Business, consistent branding can increase your revenue by up to 23%, while signature colours and visual elements can boost your brand recognition by up to 80%.
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Whether you aim to attract employed millennials or stay-at-home elderly with your products and services, localized logo design can help you reach a much wider audience more quickly. However, approaching the design process with localization in mind isn’t as straightforward as it seems at first glance.
Logos are visually simple yet carry your entire business’ vision and service portfolio in them. With that in mind, let’s dive into why and how you can design a logo which can later be retrofitted into numerous other languages for the sake of brand awareness and market positioning.
Logo and Localization 101
Let’s start small and talk about some terminology before we go any further. Branding is an integral part of company identity and typically consists of logo design as its first step. Logos are visual elements that serve as the first line of defence when it comes to attracting new customers, public attention and B2B stakeholders.
The design process that goes into logo creation should be taken on extremely carefully since re-branding and redesign may cost your business more than the initial investment due to changes in the public’s perception of your brand. In order to integrate localization possibilities into your logo from the get-go, it’s important to understand what the term stands for in practice.
According to Shutterstock, 60% of consumers rarely or never buy products from English-only brands and websites, while 80% of customers are likely to do recurring business with brands that offer a personalized experience for their convenience, including different forms of localized content.
Localization is different from translation in an essential way. It represents translation in its personalized shape, taking into account things such as cultural and lingual standards and expectations of different countries. This is why the process is more complex and should be taken on very carefully while also avoiding direct, one-for-one translation, especially in logo design.
Benefits of Logo Localization
Now that we have a clear idea of what logo design and localization mean in terms of brand representation, let’s discuss why you should take this step with your business. After all, no business decision should be made without analyzing the clear advantages associated with it.
According to Forbes, 64% of consumers agree that identifying shared values with their favourite products leads to a trusted, long-term relationship with that brand. The best way to achieve that effect quickly is to localize your brand identity going forward. The benefits associated with localizing your logo design are numerous and include (but are not limited) to the following items:
- Increased global revenue
- Increased positive brand reputation
- Building customer loyalty and word of mouth
- Competitive advantage over other brands
- High return on investment (ROI) from the design process
Brand Representation through Logo Localization
Before we dive into logo localization itself, let’s first discuss the applications of localized logo design and what it can do for your brand. Logos are typically found on different types of products, online services, corporate documentation and other forms of brand representation intended for public use. Likewise, game localization companies and translation platforms such as The Word Point aim to provide their clients with peak quality content when it comes to localized branding or promotional materials.
According to Tech Jury, 70% of active brand managers focus on building an audience for their brands, while 77% of consumers make purchase decisions based on their previous relations with the brand in question, regardless of their familiarity with that specific product.
As such, using a localized logo in different countries depending on their native language can prove significant in terms of your publicity and revenue in different territories. With that in mind, some of the items intended for brand representation with localized logo design include the following:
- Websites and blogs related to your brand
- Social media pages under your brand
- All forms of physical products and packaging
- Corporate documentation (invoices, forms, etc.)
- Corporate vehicles (cars, vans, trucks, etc.)
- Promotional items (shirts, mugs, pens, etc.)
- Signs and banners (posters, flyers, billboards, etc.)
Localized Logo Design Process
1. Logo VS Logotype
The first order of business in terms of logo design with localization in mind is to decide whether you will create a logo or a logotype. Logos are typically created with striking visuals or creative shapes or elements in addition to lettering. Think McDonald’s and their stylized “M” letter which represents a French fry, a staple product of the company.
Logotypes, on the other hand, rely on stylized letters or simple-but-effective typed out lettering without additional design interventions. These types of logos are commonly used in legal and financial industries as well as with corporate conglomerates and large international brands with a plethora of different products and services under their name.
Depending on your scale and goals for further growth and development, you should choose one or the other at the start of your design process. There is no right or wrong choice here – it is purely subjective so you should flex your creative muscles and think about which direction you want your localized logo to go in the future.
2. Rely on Clean Typography
Typography plays a pivotal role in logo design, especially if your intention is to localize it into multiple languages. For starters, you should use non-serif lettering in order to make the transition process quicker and easier for your designer and content creator colleagues.
Think FedEx, not Coca-Cola. Non-serif lettering will allow you more creative freedom in terms of what words or wordplay you can integrate into the logo itself. Likewise, the choice of your font will play an important role in the logo’s continued flexibility in terms of adding new languages to the localization process over time.
Languages such as Chinese, Russian, Greek, and others rely on unique alphabets which will require additional design time and resources to nail just right. Choose a versatile font with different alphabets already integrated into its library and your localization initiative will become much easier as a result.
3. Neutral Color Palette
The only reason to delve into logo localization is if you intend to push your products and services to local markets across the globe. However, different cultures have different expectations, traditions and, well, culture makes them unique in many ways. This can prove problematic if your logo relies heavily on colours which may be associated with negative feelings or cultural meaning in specific regions.
For example, the colour red in Chinese culture represents celebration, luck, and prosperity while in South Africa, it is a symbol of mourning, violence, and sacrifice. Logo localization goes far beyond word translation – your colours will play a role just as essential as the words you associate with your brand, so make sure to do proper research before settling for a colour palette.
4. Consult with Native Speakers
The best way to ensure the quality of your localized logo design in terms of local legibility is to consult with native speakers on a regular basis. You can do this in several ways, including customer interactions via social media through feedback polls and surveys, as well as by hiring a professional localization expert to help you out.
If your logo relies on wordplay or intentionally words, it should be clear at first glance that that is the case. However, this may make your localization process more difficult, making consultations with native speakers all the more important.
Even if you have native speakers in-house, it’s often a good idea to avoid DIY localization altogether and ask for a second opinion from an agency or individual who dedicated their professional career to translation. Logo localization is something you should get right from the get-go, especially when it comes to spelling and proofreading in various languages.
Logo Localization Mistakes to Avoid
Now that we have a clear idea of how logo design should be handled with localization in mind, let’s cap things off with several potential mistakes to avoid. As we’ve previously mentioned, the logo design should be handled with extreme care for several reasons.
According to 99 Designs, 61% of marketers believe that strong visual identity is an integral part of any brand’s marketing efforts, with 51% of them placing a high priority on the process over other forms of advertisement. An additional redesign can be implemented but at a cost of design resources – take care and do it right the first time around. With that out of the way, let’s address several proverbial elephants in the room:
Graphics Interlaced with Text
Once your logo design process is underway, you should make sure that the graphics and lettering in your newly-designed logo are carefully separated. This should be done for several reasons apart from the localization itself.
Making sure that your logo is versatile and easy-to-edit will ensure that other designers and content creators on your team can contribute to localization. Avoid creating a logo which is heavily dependent on graphics interacting with lettering (serif in particular) and your localization efforts will progress that much more smoothly.
Too Similar to Competitive Brands
Despite popular opinion, originality still exists in logo design. However, it’s easy to design a logo which is overly familiar and associated with a competitive brand without even looking to do so. In order to avoid confusion and/or possible copyright infringement, make sure to explore your industry and niche beforehand.
Research how your competitors handled their logo design solutions before approaching your creative and localization efforts. This will not only help you create a unique look for your business but also allow you to stand out from the crowd in a drastic way, increasing your publicity and revenue as a result.
Lost Meaning in Localized Form
Finally, localizing your logo can have adverse effects on the clarity of your message and branding. This is why it is especially important to work with a dedicated localization expert in the target language you aim to localize the logo into to avoid confusion and poor public reception.
Explore ways in which you can localize your logo and still retain the wordplay, double meaning or whichever message it features in its native form. Avoid DIY localization when it comes to a hugely important element of your branding such as the logo design itself.
Approaching logo design with localization and current branding trends in mind might seem like a touchy experience. The logo is a simple yet essential part of brand identity which makes it all the more important in terms of getting the localization right from the start.
Find a healthy balance between creativity, representation of your business culture and localization-friendly visuals. Once the logo goes live, the right audience will flock around it and the rest is history.