Bon Voyage

What’s your favourite train journey?

For some of us it might be the one that takes us somewhere new. For others it might be the one that brings us safely home.

Many people have been charmed by the Trans-Siberian Express, travelling from Moscow to Vladivostok. This route, covering well over 5,000 miles, reminds us of the extraordinary cultural diversity of Russia. From a starting point in the vibrant European modernity of Moscow, it takes in Irkutsk, close to the Mongolian border. Anyone lucky enough to have visited this area will have been struck by its Asian influences. Close to the Mongolian border, this fascinating city merges the cultures of Eastern Europe and Southern Asia, and local arts events often treat audiences to performances similar to what they might see in Ulaanbaatar or Beijing. Irkutsk also borders Lake Baikal, the world’s largest and deepest freshwater lake. To put its size in perspective, it covers an area greater than the whole of Scotland. So far, though, the fish haven’t asked for an independence vote.

The Trans-Siberian route concludes within walking distance of the Sea of Japan, the gateway to yet another culture. This extraordinary journey can be completed in seven hours, but passengers will need to check their watches vigilantly. By the time they disembark they will have passed through nine time zones.

When we communicate with people in different territories, we need to be aware of the diversity and distinctiveness within their borders. Just as the language and dialect of Spanish speakers in Mexico becomes more Americanized as you get closer to the US border, Russian territories are naturally influenced by the cultures on their doorsteps. If your communication doesn’t take that into account, you could be on a train that never leaves the station.

And while many diplomatic relationships with Russia have their complications, trade relationships remain important. Over $500 billion in British goods and services are exported to Russia every year, for example, and if you’re seeking a market for industrial machinery or cutting-edge technology, the rewards are undeniable. But once again, the fine details in your website localisation are important.

You need to pay particularly close attention to Russia’s personal data laws. They differ from the Europe-wide GDPR regulations and may require you to change the way you collect, process and store data via your website. That’s certainly not a deal-breaker, just another reason to set out a detailed localisation strategy and execute it professionally. Ecommerce revenue in Russia is forecast to top $50 billion by 2023, and a share of that revenue is available for the company that stays in control of its language assets, localizes its website, procedures and marketing communication and communicates its message in sense and spirit.

What’s your favourite train journey? We all have our own answer, but the train we all want to be on in the 2020s is the one that leads to clear, accurate global communication.

Bon voyage.