The Importance of Localization in a Global Economy


Marketing experts spend their days making sure that their company’s brand and messaging are appropriate, accurate, and accessible to the public. That ‘public’ may be local, regional, and, nowadays, international.

Our broadening global economy is presenting new locations and demographics to sell products and services to. It is also making it more difficult to successfully market to these new targets. This is where the importance of “localization” comes into play. More than just a series of translations, localization is a process that involves programmers, linguists, and marketing experts working together to ensure that a product or service is translated accurately and effectively for an entire target region and/or culture.

It is crucial that localization services are done right the first time. Since every culture has its own way of expressing ideas and emotions, the images, colors, and slogans in your original presentation may not have the same meaning with the new target audience. Red, white, and blue do not necessarily represent patriotism abroad as they do in America, for example, so the sentiment is simply lost. In other cases, a failure in accurate localization can have more dire effects, like insulting people. So, localization involves much more than just translation, and it’s best to seek out certified translation experts to ensure that your message is effective no matter whom you’re marketing to.

Certified language service providers have the resources to conduct comprehensive studies of target cultures in order to correctly adapt a business’s product or service. Their specialized linguists and programmers understand a specific region’s culture inside and out, right down to the current slang. From there, they use their skills and unique knowledge to localize products such as software programs, video games, websites and e-learning tools to specific countries, regions, and ethnic groups. Localization is not only required for regions or countries where people speak different languages, but also needed when there is one common language spoken. For instance, even though English is common to the U.S. and Great Britain, localization is needed when marketing to, or between, both cultures. An American potato chip company will need localization services for advertising in England, because, across the pond, chips are actually fries, and crisps are chips.

While the example above reflects a relatively simple textual scenario, most localization is much more complex and goes beyond changing the occasional word or two. In addition to straightforward translation (grammar and spelling differences), localization often includes visual/graphic adaptation, local currency considerations, differences in recording dates, addresses and phone numbers, and even retooling the physical appearance of a product. In short, successful localization aims to find appropriate emotional and cultural marketing messages that will attract or maintain customers in foreign regions. Before going to market with a product or service in a new, foreign environment, make sure you’ve enlisted the services of a top-notch, certified language service provider. Otherwise, not only will your product or service fail to sell, you may just succeed in embarrassing yourself, or insulting an entire culture. And that’s not good business no matter where you’re from.

Ian Sawyer ( writes articles about the translation industry for Translators, Inc. (, a full-service foreign language solutions company providing services for over 18 years in over 130 languages.

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