In case you have heard about localization, your coworkers are telling you about its stellar benefits and its differences from the good old translation, but you are still struggling to grasp the full story, this mini series of articles is for you.
Before we dive into the ROI calculation and figures in Part Two, it would be very helpful to start with a clean slate, take a good look at the definitions in order to show you what localization really does for you and how it facilitates your global growth and why does it eventually pay off – handsomely.
What is localization all about and what makes it different from translation?
Time and again, it is emphasized that localization is more than translation, but what is really meant by this is that it is a process of transferring, recreating and transcreating the user experience, style and values related to a particular product / service from one locale to another.
While translation refers solely to the textual content, localization is a comprehensive process of adaptation of the entire product/service identity to the environment of a specific foreign market and this may include adaptation of colors, multimedia, specific textual operations, technical and legal harmonization, etc.
In other words, if you have found your voice, developed a particular style and expression, built a recognizable profile and a solid user base on your home market, you cannot simply translate the content of your corporate message to another language and achieve the same results, but you need to localize your entire profile and find another voice that will produce the similar or equal effects on the target market.
Translation is an essential part of localization, but while it is focused on communicating the meaning of the verbal content of product/service between the languages, the ultimate goal of localization is a seamless adaptation of the entire user experience and its stylistic, visual, technical and legal aspects from one market to another.
Who are the customers you won’t reach?
The answer to this question lies in the old business adage “Can’t read it – won’t buy it” : the customers you won’t reach are the customers who were not provided with a localized version of your product/service in accordance with their language and culture.
Virtually every research and every survey ever conducted shows that more than 60% of the customers would always choose a more expensive product in their own language (i.e. the one they can understand) than a more affordable product or service in a foreign language – and this percentage grows with the complexity and sophistication of product / service. (You may want to check out the research Survey of 3,000 Online Shoppers Across 10 Countries Finds that 60% Rarely or Never Buy from English-only Websites by Common Sense Advisory for details.)
Localization is a process specifically designed to help you reach those masses of potential customers who may be waiting for exactly what you have to offer them.
What about the quality and the costs?
Having an old tree is better than having no tree at all. But localization is nothing like the trees.
Substandard localization is more likely to discourage a potential customer than absence of localization because a bad localization always leaves an impression of a fishy business and may even confuse or offend the customers, so instead of the customers you won’t reach you get the customers that you will never reach and possibly PR and crisis management costs thrown in.
This is why the low price of a bad language solution ends up way higher than a realistic price of a quality service – when you are paying for localization, you are also paying for safety and security of the brand and the company image on the target market.
Read more about the L10n benefits in Part Two.