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Why is Localization Important?

Why translation is sometimes not enough? Be sure to consider localization if you want to be successful in a foreign market.


Why translation is sometimes not enough?

Translation is the process of converting your message into another language, keeping the content and style of the original. Translators aim to produce a text that is equivalent. It is all about finding the most similar words in the target language.

Localization, on the other hand, can be seen as a different and broader discipline. The localization process consists of an important additional step where the translator aims to modify the message so it is better suited to the target market, to achieve the desired impact.

Localization does not always include the translation process. Sometimes it can be just about an adaptation of a product for a specific culture or region.

When Localisation goes wrong

A professional localization service is always based on a profound cultural understanding of the norms and practices applied in the target country. But sometimes even the biggest companies underestimate the importance of localization and launch their product into a foreign market without proper research.

In 2011 the sportswear giant producer Puma targeted the UAE (United Arabic Emirates) market with shoes featuring the UAE flag colors. The locals expressed deep discontent about the use of their national colors. It is seen as highly disrespectful to depict a national symbol on shoes. The company issued an apology and was forced to remove shoes from stores, at great cost and embarrassment.

Shoes throw up another interesting story

Another blunder happened last year in Ireland where Nike wanted to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day, launching shoes in Guinness colors. Yet the shoes’ name “Black and Tan” caused controversy as it is a reminder of a British paramilitary unit called “Black and Tans” that conducted a series of brutal reprisals during the early 1920s Irish Independence wars. Some asked: "Is there no one in the company who can Google?"

The purpose of Localization

Localization strives for a creation of a product that can succeed in the target market, and matches the local demand.

A professional localization service is able to provide you with advice on a range of topics – including whether the images you want to use ought to be changed or whether your slogans are appropriate for your target market.

If you do not want to take the wrong step, be sure to consider the culture of your target market.

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