Archive for April, 2013

Marketing Localization at Adobe – What works, what’s challenging

I have been asked lately to talk to a couple of peers in the industry about Marketing Localization at Adobe and thought this would make an interesting blog post as well.

At Adobe, Marketing Localization is centralized and consists of a team of International Program Managers, which I manage.

I believe this is still the right model for us. Adobe has offices all over the world and decentralizing marketing localization would actually introduce inefficiencies. That said, the challenge with a centralized model is to balance productivity with the ability to provide GEOs with the right process and tools so they can participate and provide valuable input around GEO-specific nuances, country specific content, etc. This is an on-going challenge and we work very closely with our Marketing Managers worldwide to conquer it.

The challenge here is the balance between giving more flexibility and freedom of expression to the regions and the use of productivity tools such as Translation Memory. If we want to leverage the savings that TMs and other tools offer to localization (and we do), we can offer some flexibility in the target content but not as much as sometimes the regions would like to have – for instance, complete re-writes of segments.

At Adobe we are aware to these issues and the key here is to work closely with the regional offices and offer them opportunities to provide feedback early on, directly into the source content, before localization starts. It also means providing opportunity for reviews on localized content that is presented in context in a process that allows for easy feedback. Our GEOs are Field Marketing Managers and we are sensitive to the amount of time spent in reviews.

Challenges

There are always challenges in localization and in particular in Marketing localization, where ‘good translation’ is just not good enough.

Take the Digital Marketing BU for example. Worldwide campaigns around the digital marketing solutions have to appeal to ‘marketers’, to professionals that create marketing content, and so the ‘localization quality bar’ for the content we provide to our GEOs has been raised significantly.

Here’s an example of a recent campaign that was particularly challenging for localization due to the use of the very US centric expression “ticks them off”.  For translators is not always a clear choice of words for the target language.  The ‘weight’ of the expression and what it conveys need to be taken into consideration.

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Regional offices are free to create their own marketing materials – International Brand Guidelines are in place and Adobe’s Brand team works directly with the GEOs to ensure a consistent interpretation and use of our brand.

We are very protective when it comes to the Adobe brand and although the regional offices are given some flexibility in terms of creating some of their own marketing materials (in their original language), Adobe’s Brand team normally is involved to make sure the materials follow the established international brand guidelines.

What regions or international markets are most difficult or challenging for localization?

I think anyone that works in localization would start by saying that Japanese is a very challenging language to localize. The idea of ‘translation’ is already something that is not appreciated by the Japanese market. A very good ‘translation’ still means ‘it’s translated’ and so it has a different flow and feel than the content that is originated in Japanese.  This becomes an even greater challenge around marketing content.

At Adobe we do have a successful program for localizing marketing campaigns into Japanese and that involves working very closely with our in-country product marketing managers and employing in-country copy editors when necessary.

That said, every language and every country present challenges. We recently had to deal with orthography changes in Brazilian Portuguese, tonality changes in Spanish (formal to a more informal tone), imagery issues in the middle east, different ‘flavors’ of a single language, and so on. I guess I would say that there are no ‘easy’ regions. Our work is always interesting and we look at these challenges with a very positive attitude – these challenges are what differentiate translation from localization and it’s always exciting to be part of this process, where you see the source messaging deployed all over the world and having the intended appropriate impact in every region, around the globe.

What aspects of branding are most important to localize for regional audiences? What channels are most important?

The emphasis has greatly shifted to online content (web pages, multimedia content and social), the larger part of the content we now localize will end up on Adobe’s 57 international sites. The need for printed content has decreased but there are still certain regions that need to be supplied with printed content. We try to listen to our GEOs and provide relevant localized materials.

The Adobe ‘look and feel’ is very homogeneous in all our sites. Our regional offices have the flexibility to add country specific content but the site template is the same for all locales and all international sites are centrally managed.

Regional offices are also free to create some of their own marketing materials – International Brand Guidelines are in place and Adobe’s Brand team works directly with the GEOs to ensure a consistent interpretation and use of our brand.

I believe the big challenge now is the creation of a strong and successful Creative Cloud brand worldwide – and we are well underway :-)

Bottom line

The regional offices should be an extension of your team and taken into consideration in every step of your processes and tools.

 

Time Zones and Schedules

sample schedule image

One of the great things about being part of the globalization team here at Adobe is that we get to work regularly with people around the world, on an on-going basis, as if they are down the hall from us rather than well over the earth’s horizon.  It becomes second nature to just know what time it is now in Tokyo, Beijing, Noida, Bucharest, or Brno, all relative to each other.  It’s a known fact that if you must to schedule a live meeting with people in North America, East Asia, and Europe, someone will be stuck with a very inconvenient time slot.

These differences in time zones work for and against us, too, when it comes to project schedules, whether handing off files for localization, or delivering the final product.  Where you are in the world can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on where your stakeholders are located.

My main job at Adobe has been program management on the product localization team. That means that I have done my share of project schedule development and maintenance.  One of the early lessons I learned being in the business, in this position, is that the details in the schedule matter, especially those that define when a task is supposed to actually happen, or rather, when it should start or be completed.

The schedules that I manage assume that the finish dates associated with any given task is relative to end-of-business-day local time for whomever the task is assigned. For example, if the task “Deliver Translated Files” is scheduled for Tuesday and is assigned to the team in Beijing, they have all day Tuesday, local time, to finish the task.  If they are delivering it to a team on the west coast of North America, then they actually have longer than that since there probably won’t be anyone in the office in San Jose to take delivery at 6PM Beijing local time (unless we’re in end-game, crunch time, of course!).

Because my team and I are on the west coast of North America, we realize that having until the very end of the day to get things done cuts into the working day for those folks in East Asia.  Therefore, we typically will account for that by adjusting the start date of the subsequent task for the folks in Asia to be their next working day. That adds a bit of flexibility for us since we then have more time to get our task done, which equates to a bit of slack in the schedule in case things don’t go as planned, a not uncommon occurrence.

This strategy seems to work out pretty well. The key is that the details must be laid out explicitly and be well known and understood. I make it a point to discuss this schedule rule exhaustively during kickoff meetings, ensuring that everyone understands. In fact, it is mentioned in the footer of my schedule files, just to be sure it gets proper ongoing visibility.

Certainly, all the details of the project should be well advertised and universally understood to ensure project success and to minimize risk.  That’s what good communication among project managers and the projects teams can do for you.  But I’ve seen the this time zone caused task deadline confusion trip people up enough to know that it’s important.

Time zones differences can be tough to get used to, especially for those who are new to working with people in various, greatly varied regions.  Time zones can help or hurt, provide you with a slight cushion or cut your day short. But if the rules are defined with your teams and stakeholders, geographical differences should not be something that slips you up.

I’d be interested to hear stories about how time zones have helped, hurt, or simply confused.  I invite you to leave your experiences in the comments section of this blog post.

Rob Jaworski
International Program Manager
Adobe

image: flickr user triciawang

Localized Prerelease Programs

The Localization team at Adobe is continually working at enabling more avenues and channels for our international user to provide us feedback on the internationalization and localization aspects of our products. One such channel is Localized Prerelease Programs. Through these programs, we encourage our international users to provide feedback on UI, translation, and overall world readiness of our unreleased products. These localized prerelease programs allow you to test products in your native language and provide feedback in a structured manner through the prerelease site. We welcome any feedback on the language used throughout the UI, ensuring that the product functions and appears natural in your language. Feel free to give us feedback on truncations, overlaps, clippings, flawed UI geometry or any cross-product inconsistency that you observe in the product in your language.

You can show your interest in participating in Adobe’s Localized Prerelease Programs by filling this form. Make sure you select ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Would you like to participate in a localized Prerelease Program ?’ and specify the language that you are interested in.