One of the most difficult aspects of global trading is the language barrier that businesses face. The famous cultural faux pas of brands trying to operate overseas never reflect well on the companies concerned, unless you subscribe to the theory that all PR is good PR.
Cultural missteps are a major reason global brands can’t simply stop at translation. They also need localization services. Localization is the process of preparing all parts of a product or message for a certain region. Below, we’ll look in more detail at what localization is, why it’s important, and how it can help your business.
What Is Localization?
Localization covers far more than translating a message from one language into another, although that is part of what it entails. Localization is about making sure a product or a piece of content fits into another market or location.
Localization must take many factors into account while converting a message or product. First and foremost, it makes sure that the item in question stays consistent across cultural barriers while also fitting into the new culture.
What is the localization process? Well, it adapts a message in several ways. It also addresses graphics. The content itself might be modified to suit the habits or expectations of the new market.
The layout of the text could be altered to fit a new language. Some cultures read right to left instead of left to right, so localization takes this into account. Formats such as phone numbers, measurement units, currency symbols, and addresses might be updated as part of the process as well.
Another large and integral part of localization is making sure the message or product conforms to new market regulations and consumer habits. For instance, different jurisdictions have different privacy laws, seller licenses, or censorship rules that a company must adhere to. On the business side, what works in one market for a product might not work in another market.
Why Is Localization from a Translation Company Important?
Given how much localization handles, it’s a necessary service if you wish to do business in a foreign market.
Why is localization important? Business ventures are notoriously risky as it is. Business dynamism records the number of firms that are born and fail. A positive business dynamism means that more firms are born than fail. However, in the US, 12 new firms per business establishment were created in 1978; this had fallen to 6.2 by 2011.
If you plan to do business globally, it’s important to use a translation company for your localization efforts. No business can afford to fail in a new region simply because it didn’t take local cultural nuances into account!
How Can Localization Help a Brand?
Professional localization services can make the difference between a company succeeding and struggling in a new overseas market.
Groupon has become a major case study in how not to expand into overseas markets since it began trying to do so back in 2011. The company rushed its service into the Chinese market without understanding Chinese consumer habits or culture. It accumulated $46.4 million in net losses and $2.1 million in revenue.
One issue Groupon failed to realize was that it pushed margins on deals too much for the Chinese market. In the US, Groupon makes 40% margins on deals. In China, no competitor makes more than 14%.
One of the largest factors localization takes into account is consumer and business habits within the new market. Without a strong localization team, it’s hard to understand certain details about a new culture, its purchasing habits, and its business trends, as Groupon showed.
Products and messages cannot simply be copied and pasted all around the world; localization is necessary for successful expansion in global markets.
How to Find the Best Localization Services
Many translation agencies also specialize in localization, especially larger agencies. You may want to start by checking with prospective translation agencies to see how they handle localization
When searching for services online, make sure the company has a professional website and proof of past work. A professional agency will have testimonials or a portfolio showing past work. Some smaller agencies or individuals may also have references that you can call.
You can also check around your professional network to see if anyone in your industry has worked with, and can recommend particular localization services.
When looking for localization agencies, be sure to check to make sure they have a background in business localization. Ideally, they should have worked with marketing messages and global business expansion in the past.
Finding a top-notch localization service is important; it can mean the difference between a strong entry into a certain market and a dismal flop.