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The Key Differences Between Translation and Localization

The Key Differences Between Translation and Localization

Language services should be a key component of any business’s multinational growth strategy. Although English remains the most widely spoken language in the world, end consumers always appreciate messaging in their native tongue because they never want to miss a single detail. And while a business may be able to find creative ways to communicate a message without the use of words, including language elements saves the customer from implying meaning or intent.

So how does a business incorporate language services into their global growth strategy? Well, the first obvious way is through translation. This is a great starting point, but it only gets the brand halfway into the mind of the consumer. In a broader context,localization stands a greater chance of winning customers and ultimately growing your business’s footprint across diverse markets.

How Are Translation and Localization Different?

In simple terms, translation renders text from one language to another. Translation turns “Hello” into “Hola” for Spanish-speaking markets, and “Ahoj” for Czech-speaking markets.

Localization includes translation as the first step and ‘message validation’ as the overarching objective. Simply put, localization adapts word-based messaging to each market’s local context, thus allowing it to be culturally acceptable and understood.

Does My Brand Message Need Translation or Localization?

For simpler business models, translation may just be enough to get your foot through the door. If your brand is self-explanatory and caters precisely to the needs of the market, it may be enough to translate your message, make it pretty and push out a marketing campaign. But in an industry that is ultra-competitive and with a market of discerning consumers, it may not do the trick.

In such cases, full localization efforts may be the best bet. As simple as it sounds, however, the process of localization can be quite nuanced, as it involves keen research and firsthand knowledge of each market’s cultural nuances coupled with effective marketing strategies. For a localization project to be successful, detailed planning and coordination amongst localization managers, marketers and linguists will be essential.

Skrivanek can help businesses to determine which language service is best to get the most mileage possible for a brand from one market to the next.

What Are Some Examples of Localization That Go Beyond Translation?

Many times, the elements of localization that effectively target diverse markets go unnoticed or are taken for granted. In perhaps the simplest example, many dictionary equivalents or raw translations do not always adapt to the target language in a contextual way. Localization takes the true and intended meaning of the source language – especially if it is colloquially written – and adapts it to a form or format that makes contextual sense to the end consumer.

Also surprising to many people is the fact that localization contemplates the significance of colours, symbols, and gestures to various markets. Red, for example, is the traditional bridal colour in China, while brides from the USA wear white. A global bridalwear brand or wedding planning service would likely attract Chinese brides-to-be if their marketing concepts embrace the significance of the colour red.

Other forms of localization include adjusting how dates are written from one country or region to the next, changing currency symbols and adapting legal contracts to take country-specific regulations into account.

Skrivanek can help you to decide which language service is ideal for your business case. Our experienced team of localization experts and linguists can advise you, so your brand has the best chance of success in global markets. Reach out to us by email at info@skrivanek.com or schedule a call



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