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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Rausch - Marketing Manager

Localization Vs. Globalization - What's the Difference?

Expanding internationally is more than just translating some content into a few additional languages and calling it a day. Any business looking to enter a foreign market must incorporate both localization and globalization into its strategy. But what exactly does that mean?

Understanding the differences between these approaches will help to position your business to thrive in our increasingly connected global workforce. Here we break down everything to know.


What is Linguistic Localization?

It’s common for the phrases translation and localization to be used interchangeably, but they have different meanings and applications.

Translation is the literal rendering of content, word for word, into another language. When a linguist translates specific material, they aren’t looking into the overall context of what is written before them. They aren’t considering who is going to be reading the content once it’s translated into the target language, and they’re not taking into account the different cultures and locales of the readers.

On the other hand, linguistic localization is the process of adapting content to fit the culture of a specific region and locale. The linguist’s goal is to make the material feel familiar to the reader and they’ll do this by carefully considering unique cultural considerations of the region, including history, religions, customs, and other societal preferences. Because of this, it’s essential for the linguist to be a native speaker of the target language and to live in-country as all these elements are almost impossible to extract unless you’re a native.

What Are Some Localization Essentials?

In order to accurately address the language and cultural barriers during the localization process, your translation and localization provider will include the following:

A Two-Step Translation and Editing Process

How do you perform quality assurance when you don’t speak the language you’re targeting? At Language Intelligence, we believe quality assurance is incredibly important, so we have implemented a two-step translation and editing process that includes two separate linguists. One linguist will take the first pass at the translation and localization elements, and the second linguist will review and edit the material appropriately. This way, you can trust that your translations are accurate and correct.

Attention to Imagery

Symbols, pictures, and even colors have multiple meanings and connotations around the world. Your documents are more than just words on a page, and their meaning and message may be compromised if the images you use aren’t localized correctly. Our linguists will make sure the images make sense for the market and aren’t offensive or confusing to readers across the globe.

Formatting Considerations

Just like imagery can change from locale to locale, so can the formatting of your content. This is where our multilingual desktop publishing services team comes in - we’ll adapt your materials into culturally-relevant formats, specific to the culture and locales you’re targeting. This can include:

  • Modifying layout designs from left-to-right texts into right-to-left languages such as Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew,

  • Converting details such as dates and time formats, systems of measurement, currency, and punctuation to the regional standard,

  • Adjusting images for alignment with character-based languages including Chinese and Japanese,

  • Modifying layout designs to make room for languages that tend to be longer than English, like German, or languages that are shorter than English, such as Finish.


What is Globalization?

Globalization is the framework that businesses use when operating in international markets. Simply put, globalization is when businesses create a plan to transition from a single-country product and/or service to a multinational one. Where globalization provides a big picture snapshot of your business strategy, localization is just one detail in the entire process.

What Does Globalization Consider?

Globalization helps you create a global brand and operational model, and to do this, you’ll have to keep in mind:

Global Branding

How will your brand be perceived in different foreign markets? As mentioned before, different regions all consume content in different ways, so you’ll need to use translation and localization for all your marketing and branding materials to ensure cultural relevance.

Multiple Languages and Locales

Chances are, your global expansion will include multiple different geographic areas. Each locale has its own culture and language, making it extremely important to localize content depending on specific cultural needs. Accessibility is incredibly important, but working in multiple languages can be confusing and complex. Language Intelligence will manage all of the details for you and ensure all your material is ready for global distribution.

Linguistic Localization vs. Globalization - a Bite-Sized Summary

Where globalization is the overarching umbrella that represents your brand on an international scale, localization focuses on the cultural nuances between markets. Globalization allows you to reach consumers all over the world, and localization ensures you’re understood.

Language Intelligence can help you communicate and spread your message internationally. For more information on our linguistic localization process and how we can help your brand thrive, get in touch with us today.


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