The power of localization: Bridging cultures, boosting businesses.
In our increasingly connected world, where businesses are reaching beyond their local markets to tap into global ones, understanding and harnessing the power of localization has become vital for success. But what exactly is localization?
Localization definition by Cambridge Dictionary refers to a wide variety of practices that help contain and localize cognitively relevant information, making it more accessible and understandable to a target audience. It also alludes to the process of determining the spatial presence of specific elements, often to enhance functionality and usability.
From a business perspective
As explained by Wix.com, localization is the process of adapting a product, service, advertising, or any other content to a specific market.
It isn't simply about translating text from one language to another; it's about aligning with the cultural, societal, and temporal factors that define a certain group of people, including their time zones, national holidays, gender roles, product beliefs, and cultural references. To put it simply, localization aims to make the content feel as though it was created specifically for the target market. It's about seamlessly blending in, so local customers don't realize the content was originally produced for another market.
For instance, McDonald's in India doesn't serve beef or pork, aligning with the country's prevalent religious beliefs. Similarly, Hyundai had to change the name of its Kona car in Portugal due to linguistic concerns. These are but a few successful localization examples that showcase its impact on a global scale.
But how does localization differ from translation?
While the two often overlap, there is a crucial distinction.
Translation focuses primarily on converting language, whereas localization deals with the broader scope, including cultural references, systems of measurement, currencies, regional terms, character names, and more. In essence, localization is about "everything else" that makes the content relatable and accessible for the target audience, working hand in hand with translation for the most fluid experience.
However, localization is not a one-and-done task; it's an ongoing process that requires a deep understanding of the target audience and continuous adaptation to their changing dynamics. Companies who are serious about reaching a global audience typically integrate localization as a part of a broader internationalization strategy, ensuring their content is not only linguistically correct but culturally resonant as well.
Localization or localisation?
The terms "localisation" and "localization" refer to the same concept but are spelled differently due to regional spelling conventions.
Both terms refer to the process of adapting a product, service, or piece of content to make it suitable for use in a specific country or region. This process often involves translation but also encompasses changes to other elements such as date formats, units of measurement, and cultural references to ensure that the product, service, or content is not just understandable but also culturally appropriate and engaging for the target audience.
The spelling "localisation" is typically used in UK English, while "localization" is used in US English.
However, the use of the "z" spelling isn't strictly limited to American English, and the origins of the "iz" form can be traced back to Ancient Greek. It's also been recorded in British English as early as the 15th century. The specific spelling choice for "localization" with a "z" in the field of software translation and localization is rooted in the early predominance of large US software companies.
In essence, the choice between "localisation" and "localization" largely comes down to regional spelling preferences and industry standards, but they both describe the same practice of adapting a product or service to a specific locale.
In conclusion, whether you are a small business owner looking to expand into foreign markets or a global conglomerate trying to strengthen your presence, localization should be a vital part of your strategy.
It's not just about speaking the language; it's about understanding and respecting the cultural nuances, societal norms, and regional preferences. Localization is a powerful tool to connect, communicate, and create a bond with your target audience in a meaningful and impactful way.