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  • Why localization is important in your translation and marketing strategy

    What is localization? Localization is the complete adaptation of your content to the culture of a local audience in a specific region or country. It starts with (local) language. But language is only one part of the total message you want to convey to a local audience.

    In fact, a culture consists of all the things people do, think and have:

    • Customs and traditions
    • Ways of dressing
    • Norms, values and taboos
    • Religions
    • Economics and politics
    • Symbols
    • Objects
    • Humour
    • Music
    • Lifestyle
    • Architecture
    • Units of measurement

    What is the purpose and what are the benefits of localization?

    The goal of localization is to make your client's overall user experience as smooth as possible. When localizing for them, you should also include cultural, functional and stylistic aspects.

    This is at the same time the difference between localization and a translation. A traditional translation focuses only on the text itself and finding a good equivalent of words in the source text. A free, creative translation - tailored to a specific target audience - also provides context. Therefore, to localize your marketing message, also “translate” the following to your new local target audience:

    • Images and colours
    • Fonts, shapes and symbols
    • Sizes, numbers and date notation
    • Product information
    • Reviews
    • Factual and logistical information, like:
      • Contact information
      • Terms & Conditions
      • Privacy Statement
      • Shipping and returns instructions

    The same applies to a specific local target group in a new region or country: your (potential) customer will be totally hooked if the customer journey runs completely smooth. Both online and offline.

    So, why localize? To fully tailor your marketing message to your new target market. This is how you find and connect with (new) local customers. You gain trust and are then able to successfully introduce your products or services in the new market. If that isn’t reason enough!

    Localisation e-book


    What are localization services?

    Localization can be applied to websites, apps, software, print and marketing campaigns and has strong marketing elements. Most professional translation agencies offer localization services to make the translation work for your new local target audience. For marketing campaigns, the professional translator is usually paired with a marketer.

    Localizing apps and software require a different approach. A good example is program code that must remain intact for the app or software to function. Here again you see the difference between localization and translation. In this case, a web developer and professional translator will closely collaborate. Together, they will work to optimize the internationalization and localization of your app or website.

    Why you also need a strategy for localization

    You understand localization and why it’s so important to speak the language of your new target group. You then engage a professional agency who will help you develop a good localization strategy. Together you establish how and what you want to have localized and who will take on which tasks and responsibilities.

    In order to be well prepared, it’s useful to go through the following steps beforehand.

    Step 1 - Identify objectives

    The goals to include in your localization strategy are largely found in the overall business objectives. What are the organization’s ambitions for international expansion? Where are you now? What needs to happen to realize those ambitions?

    Which local target group is it, and how can you tailor your content as much as possible to the language of your target audience? What and why do you want to localize? Is it only the website, or do you need to customize more for your new target audience (like apps, software, marketing campaigns and print)?

    Step 2 - Get to know the new culture and your local customer

    People around the world look, read and make decisions differently. One way to gather input is to research among your new target audience. Investigate what appeals to your local target audience textually and visually. Do they gravitate more towards images or text? Do they read the local language from left to right or vice versa? Do they scan a website from top left to bottom right or are they more vertically oriented?

    Test which colours and fonts resonate best within this culture and adjust your corporate identity and graphics accordingly. In Asia, for example, people prefer colourful visualizations. Research associations, the meaning of symbols and possible taboos. Find out what sizes, numbers and dates are used.

    Immerse yourself in what the decision path of this local customer looks like. In one country people are more focused on brand awareness, while the other is sensitive to price offers. Determine how far you want to go in personalization and segmentation.

    Step 3 - Check your own input

    Have you translated content before? Then check whether a translation memory (TM), is already present within your organization. This is a database with words, phrases and segments of previously translated texts.

    If there is a translation memory, then there may also be a terminology list (in Word or Excel, for example) or a termbase (TB) available. This is a separate database with unique terms and product names within your organization. Professional translators use these databases as a tool to be as consistent as possible for the local target audience.

    Follow-up with a translation agency

    A translation agency naturally starts by asking why you want to localize, what the language of the local target audience is, and who your local customer is. Together you define the localization strategy. The translation agency then works out a strategic plan and assigns you a project manager who is your main contact person. You’ll have a complete team at your disposal: from other project managers and account managers to specialists.

    Want to know more about localization? Then request the e-book Localization The key to global marketing success now.