Localisation doesn’t mean starting again

Last week I went to see the musical “Book of Mormon” in London’s West End. The play was originally written as a Broadway musical. For Americans. It tells the story of two Mormons – a predominantly American religion – as they travel to Africa.

So far, so American. And not very British.

Despite that, the play is very funny and still works over here. But probably the biggest laugh (and round of applause) came in a line that had been rewritten for the UK audience. One character accidentally calling another by the name of a well-known British politician.

The audience appreciated the nod while the whole story remained the same.

That’s the job of localisation. Not to tell a brand new story but to show your audience you have thought about them. And when appropriate you’ve adapted for them.

So, when localising content don’t just translate. Think: is there an idiom I can change or a reference I can switch around? How can I show my audience I’ve done something special them?