As every business will appreciate, forming connections and fostering customer engagement is essential. Translation is an important part of expanding into a new country, listing a product for sale in a different jurisdiction, or introducing a brand to a contrasting demographic.
Globalisation and localisation take that further to appreciate the nuance and context in how businesses communicate and advertise products or services to varied audiences.
As a well-established provider of business translation services alongside services such as website localisation, Absolute Translations certified translation services London explains what these concepts mean and the difference they can make to your overseas commercial success.
What Is Translation for Globalisation?
Globalisation is a process where a company adapts its business model, infrastructure and systems to make it possible to trade worldwide as an international company.
All of the big multinational brands you know have harnessed the power of globalisation to ensure they have the capacity and scope to scale into new areas; think Amazon and Netflix, where you can order products online from almost any country and stream movies anywhere you happen to travel.
Multiple aspects of globalisation rely on professional, accurate translation, such as:
- Recreating customer service functions, FAQs sections and enquiries.
- Translating website pages, product information, labelling and packaging.
- Organising returns processes with postage and returns slip translations.
However, the scope of globalisation is large. It can refer to everything from researching local legal systems and product safety requirements to understanding cultural differences that might mean one range or brand is inappropriate on a global stage.
In effect, globalisation requires a business to look inward at its branding, position, product or service offering, pricing structures, communication systems, digital and physical materials, testing and quality control and ensure it has addressed every aspect to prepare the company for a global market approach.
How Does Localisation Translation Work?
Localisation may sound similar to globalisation, but it is a more targeted, specific exercise where a company refines its operations, website content and product or service information to meet customers' expectations in a defined region, looking at linguistics, culture, nuance and other aspects of society.
For example, Orange, the mobile phone company, made a serious localisation faux pas when it launched in Northern Ireland using its trademark name and colour – with challenging political connotations.
A similar reputational issue could arise if a bank were to launch an account product in the Middle East featuring a piggy bank in its marketing. This harmless symbolism in the Western world would cause serious offence in countries where most of the population is Islamic, and pork is haram.
Therefore, localisation isn't limited to text translations but means a native language speaker will look at the following:
- Colours, symbols and icons.
- Brand tone and style.
- Currencies and units of measurement.
- References to everyday life and amenities.
- Dialects and local customs.
A professional localisation project covers every business element, from branding to product packaging, web content to mobile apps, and published literature to social media pages.
Localisation in Practice
McDonalds, perhaps the most famous fast-food restaurant in the world, is a good example of localisation in practice. While the business is based in the US, Mcdonald's branches are in hundreds of countries and everywhere, from airports to retail parks.
Simply offering the same food, translated into a different language and currency wouldn't work because customer expectations, tastes and requirements are not universal – this is why Mcdonald's has a far larger vegetarian menu in India, offers rice instead of fries in Vietnam, and allows customers to buy alcohol with their meals in France.
Nobody in the UK would expect to order a bottle of beer in McDonald's in the same way a Vietnamese customer might not wish to receive fries, so this localisation provides attention to detail that far exceeds the scope of simple menu translation and adapts the business model to appeal to each demographic.
How to Identify Whether You Require Globalisation or Localisation Translation
Both of these processes are focused on adjusting brand content and messaging to cater to a new audience, but much depends on the business strategy, what you wish to achieve, and where and when.
In many cases, a company that intends to launch as a global brand needs to incorporate localisation into those plans, and vice versa, because it is only possible to achieve globalisation successfully by working through in-depth localisation first for each intended location.
Localisation is also a step toward globalisation, where a business has invested the appropriate time, effort and research into understanding a customer base and adjusting how it presents itself to acknowledge the differences in culture, communication and societal norms.
The easiest way to explain the difference between localisation and globalisation is as follows:
- Localisation means a company adapts everything it does to a local market, keeping the meaning and brand positioning but ensuring it is culturally sensitive, including colour, design and practical aspects such as payment methods.
- Globalisation is a bigger-picture tactic where a brand looks at ways to integrate its services or products to appeal to a broader demographic – but will need to work on localisation within each jurisdiction to achieve its aims.
In either case, accuracy, precision, and a sufficient depth of understanding is essential to ensure a company doesn't miss an important element of its communications that could mean it is poorly received, misconstrued, or even considered offensive by the audience it wishes to engage with.
How Important is First-Language Translation in Globalisation and Localisation?
First language translation means a qualified translator works on a translation project and is a fluent native speaker but also an experienced professional within the relevant sector, be that finance, banking, ecommerce, pharmaceuticals or any other industry.
It is easy to make mistakes or overlook an important detail that can significantly impact the company's reception when launching in a new country. As we have demonstrated, factors such as colours, symbols and even animals can be crucial to fostering a positive brand reputation.
Any business planning to embark on a globalisation or localisation strategy is well advised to work with an accomplished translation team, who can achieve the necessary degree of accuracy while providing invaluable insights as they navigate the process.
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About Absolute Translations
Absolute Translations understands the importance of quality and reliability and this comes at the forefront of our translation services. Our many years of experience have made it possible for us to work with some of the most talented professional translators as well as leading global brands around the world in more than 200 languages, with business translation services from our London, UK and European offices.
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