Fidelity creates multi-cultural Web sitesWill CurtisMultilingual mortgage resources
America is a land of many cultures. During the first two decades
of this century, new immigrants formed the majority of our urban
population. Italian and Irish immigrants clustered in the
Northeastern corridor. Norwegians, Finns, Danes and Germans created
their own enclaves in the Midwest. Polish immigrants transformed
Chicago into the second-largest Polish city in the world. The
Japanese gathered in Los Angeles and Honolulu, while Jewish
immigrants were once overwhelmingly located in New York.
All of these groups have assimilated into American society at
their own rate. Despite having been in the United States for a long
time, many cultures find tremendous value in preserving their
cultural traditions and languages. According to the U.S. Census,
nearly one in every five families in the United States speaks a
language other than English at home.
Languages spoken at home (2000 U.S.
Chinese (all spoken varieties)—0.78 percent
French (including Patois and Cajun)—0.627 percent
Portuguese/Portuguese Creole—0.215 percent
Today's successful marketing professionals appreciate our
country's many cultures and communicate with each of them on their
own terms. People who speak English as a second language represent
a large and growing customer base that cannot be overlooked,
especially for anyone doing business in the real estate
Right now, the agencies and Mortgage Brokers have a major
opportunity to reach out to minority homebuyers. Asian-American and
Latino homeownership rates lag behind the 75.8 percent
homeownership rate of whites (non-Hispanics), according to the 2005
U.S. Census Bureau statistics, and this completely defies the fact
that Asian-Americans have the highest education and income
Fidelity National Title Group is using multi-cultural marketing
to narrow this gap and increase sales. The title insurance company
contracted Yamagata America to translate its customer Web sites
into Spanish, traditional Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Since
February 2007, they have had more than 61,000 visitors.
"English is a second language for many of our customers," said
Pablo Wong, Fidelity senior vice president of market development.
"These Web sites allow them to access often complicated information
in the language most comfortable to them. The content seamlessly
blends the subtle nuances of their native tongues with technical
real estate, title and escrow information."
"Fidelity's in-language Web sites are an excellent resource for
the many Asian-Americans and Latinos who prefer receiving
information in their native languages. Navigating through the
home-buying process and the real estate industry can be difficult.
The Web sites are a prime example of providing better and more
resources for the multi-cultural communities we serve," said Betty
Wong, president of the Chinese Real Estate Association of
Localization for real estate
Multi-cultural communications are critical for brokers and other
real estate professionals, but simple translations are just the
beginning. Copy should accurately reflect the regional nuances and
cultural traditions of its customers, whether they live in China or
Florida. Yamagata, which offers full translation and localization
services in more than 40 different languages, helped Fidelity send
just the right message.
"Our linguistic experts are ideally suited to translate content
for Fidelity's customers," said Rufus Ho, a Yamagata America
project manager specializing in localization. "In addition to
living in the United States and having complete mastery of English
and the target languages, they all have significant experience with
real estate and title insurance terms."
Getting the industry's terminology right is vital. All marketing
content, from product brochures to Web sites, should be translated
so that customers can understand and relate to it. From word
selection to typeface choice, it needs to make the targeted
audience feel like a company really knows them.
English has become a common language for people around the
world. As a result, translating copy from English to other
languages sometimes involves leaving certain terms in English.
Especially in Asian markets, words like "memory," "holidays,"
"Christmas" and "love" should remain in English, simply because
they just look and sound trendy.
"The real estate industry uses many culture-specific terms that
should remain English to preserve original meaning," said Ho.
"Whether the word should be translated, it is strictly based on the
client, but we always discuss this with our client and recommend
the best way to convey the true meaning of its original contents.
As we build up the terminology preference and its multi-lingual
lists, such information can be used for Web sites, as well as
printed materials sales/marketing collateral."
Will Curtis is a freelance writer with Whole Product
Marketing and has covered business localization, marketing
strategies and printing for more than seven years. He may be
reached at (714) 349-7976 or e-mail [email protected]