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Localization and Translation: What is the Difference?

Localization and translation are two interconnected but separate procedures. Translation refers to the act of transforming written content from one language to another, while localization involves modifying a product or service to suit a particular region or market.

Localization extends beyond the act of translating content and includes cultural factors, such as indigenous practices, idiomatic expressions, and individual preferences.


Translation is a linguistic procedure that involves the conversion of written or spoken material from one language to another, with the aim of maintaining the intended meaning of the original content.

Undertaking this process might prove to be challenging, given the inherent disparities in grammar, syntax, and vocabulary across several languages. In order to prevent errors, translators must also possess an awareness of cultural disparities. 

As an example, the English expression “to break a leg” is often used as a gesture of good luck, although its direct translation in Spanish, “romper una pierna,” retains the literal meaning of physically fracturing a leg.

The provided translation may provide challenges and may not be suitable for a Spanish-speaking audience due to its potential for confusion and inappropriateness.


Localization refers to the systematic procedure of modifying a product or service in order to cater to the unique characteristics and requirements of a particular geographic region or target market.

This encompasses not only the task of translating the text, but also extends to the examination of cultural elements such as indigenous practices, idiomatic expressions, and individual inclinations.

For instance, a firm doing website localization for the Chinese market would be required to translate the textual content into Chinese. However, it is essential for them to take into account the following factors:

  • Date and time formats: The date and time formats used in Chinese vary from those used in English.
  • Currency: The renminbi, the official currency of China, has certain characteristics that differentiate it from the United States dollar.
  • Units of measurement: The Chinese system of units of measurement differs from the English system.
  • Cultural references: In order to effectively engage a Chinese audience, it is essential for the firm to refrain from including cultural allusions that may be unknown to them.

Also Read: Transcription Services – Transforming Audio, Video into Text

Localization and Translation

Examples of Localization

Here are some examples of localization:

  • Translating a website into a new language
  • Adapting a video game for a new market
  • Localizing a marketing campaign for a new country
  • Redesigning a product packaging for a new locale
  • Translating and adapting a training manual for a new country

Benefits of Localization

There are many benefits to localizing your products and services, including:

  • Increased sales: The localization of goods and services increases their potential appeal to the intended target market. This phenomenon has the potential to result in heightened sales and income.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: The comprehension and usability of goods and services are enhanced when they are tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the target market. This phenomenon has the potential to result in enhanced levels of consumer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Reduced costs: By implementing a strategy of product and service localization, organizations may mitigate the risk of incurring significant expenses resulting from inadequately adapted offerings in a new market.
  • Enhanced brand image: The use of localization strategies may contribute to the augmentation of brand image and bolster the competitive advantage of a firm within the international market.
Localization and Translation
How to Get Started with Localization

If you are interested in localizing your products or services, there are a few things you need to do:

  • Identify your target market: The first stage involves the identification of the target market pertaining to the items or services being offered. This will assist in identifying the specific languages and locations that need prioritized attention.
  • Research the target market: After the identification of the target market, it is essential to do thorough study on their cultural background, customary practices, and preferences. This will facilitate the customization of your goods and services to align with the specific requirements of your target audience.
  • Find a qualified localization provider: There exists a wide array of localization suppliers. It is advisable to choose a supplier with a proven track record in the localization of goods and services for the specific markets that you want to target.
  • Work with the localization provider to develop a localization plan: The localization supplier will collaborate with you in order to develop a localization strategy that aligns with your specific requirements and financial constraints. The strategy will delineate the precise activities that require completion, including translation, cultural adaptation, and testing.
  • Implement the localization plan: After the development of the localization strategy, collaboration with the localization provider is necessary for its implementation. This encompasses the tasks of translating the content, modifying the cultural aspects, and evaluating the localized goods and services.

Tips for Effective Localization

Here are some tips for effective localization:

  • Start with translation: Translation serves as the fundamental basis for the process of localization. Ensure that the text is faithfully rendered into the desired target language.
  • Consider cultural factors: When conducting the process of product and service localization, it is essential to thoroughly contemplate the cultural elements inherent to the intended market. This encompasses cultural practices, linguistic expressions, and personal inclinations.
  • Test the localized products and services: After the localization process, it is crucial to conduct testing of the goods and services with individuals belonging to the target market. This will aid in guaranteeing that the localized goods and services possess a high level of comprehensibility and usability.
  • Get feedback from the target market: After conducting tests on the localized goods and services, it is crucial to get feedback from the target market. This may be achieved via the use of various research methods such as surveys, interviews, or focus groups.

Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Is the text easy to understand?
  • Are the cultural references appropriate?
  • Are the products and services easy to use?
  • Do you find the products and services appealing?
  • What suggestions do you have for improvement?

The feedback you receive from the target market will help you to improve your localized products and services.

Here are some additional tips for getting feedback from the target market:

  • Make sure that your feedback survey or interview is easy to understand and complete.
  • Ask specific questions that will give you actionable feedback.
  • Be open to criticism and suggestions.
  • Thank the participants for their time and feedback.

By adhering to these guidelines, one may get useful input from the target market, which can be used to enhance localized goods and services.


Localization plays a crucial role in the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive global company strategy. The implementation of product and service localization strategies has the potential to provide many advantageous outcomes, including an upsurge in sales, heightened levels of customer satisfaction, cost reduction, and an overall enhancement of brand image.

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