A very important question that many smaller app developers surprisingly overlook is whether or not to localize the app title, and if yes, how.
Frankly, there is no clear answer to this question. As usual, it depends on many factors, including the type of app, the size of your company and the countries you are addressing.
Let’s take some further examples:
- Your brand recognition is huge and your app name is short, say Facebook. Then you can safely use your name in all markets. For countries not normally using the Latin alphabet (China, Korea, Japan, Arab countries, Russian, etc.), you may add a translation or transliteration of your name in parenthesis.
- Your name is recognized, but you have several apps, such as “The Sims 3: Island Paradise”. Then you may consider keeping the first part in English (The Sims), and translate the second part for the benefit of local users.
- Your company is not well-known, and your app title is very long and descriptive, and this helps you for SEO purposes. You probably should consider fully translating the title in all languages.
The table below shows the Title localization strategy of different companies. As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
|Publisher||China Store||Germany Store||France Store||Japan Store||US Store|
|Supercell||部落冲突 (Clash of Clans)||Clash of Clans||Clash of Clans||クラッシュ・オブ・クラン (Clash of Clans)||Clash of Clans|
|zhenyu zhou||球球大作战(Battle of Balls)-全球玩家,实时对战||Battle of Balls||Battle of Balls||Battle of Balls||Battle of Balls – Global Player, All Time Fighter|
|Uber||Uber (优步)||Uber||Uber: Votre Chauffeur Privé||Uber||Uber|
|Strava||Strava Running and Cycling – GPS Run and Ride Tracker (**)||Strava GPS Laufen & Radfahren||Strava||Strava GPS ランニング＆サイクリング||Strava Running and Cycling – GPS Run and Ride Tracker|
|Minecraft||我的世界 Minecraft: Pocket Edition||Minecraft: Pocket Edition||Minecraft: Pocket Edition||マインクラフト Minecraft: Pocket Edition||Minecraft: Pocket Edition|
(*) Facebook is blocked by the Chinese government but the app can still be downloaded from the iTunes App store.
(**) Apps that haven’t been localized for a certain market still appear in the store, but they are entirely in English
So what are the strategies?
- Apple has decided not to localize any app title in any language, and to treat all such names as DNT (Do Not Translate).
- Our client Strava, on the other hand, has a very long app name in English. In all languages, the company name Strava is maintained in the localized title, but they do translate the rest of the app name.
- Uber is also inconsistent, with the addition of Votre Chauffeur Privé (Your private driver) in French, but not in other languages.
- Minecraft keeps “Minecraft: Pocket Edition” in all languages, but adds a translation of the company name in Chinese and Japanese.
So again, we can see that different companies have different objectives and their localization strategies are different.
China is probably the most extreme large market from a localization standpoint. There is virtually no app going anywhere unless everything, including the title, has been localized. Most of the top 100 apps are local, but some foreign ones have been able to break the ceiling. Below are some examples of localized apps for the Chinese market:
If you decide to translate the app title for certain markets, you also need to watch for trademark issues, as the translated title could be used by somebody else, in which case you may have to alter the translation in order not to infringe on anybody’s right.
At e2f, in order to help you decide, we provide you with alternate title translations with backtranslation in English, rankings, rationales, suggestions and explanations. But at the end of the day, you will need to decide how to address different markets!
As a summary, localization of app titles is an art more than a science, and it is important to select a good localization partner when addressing this issue!
This post belongs to our app localization series: