Business growth in foreign markets requires skill and consideration. With global markets continuing to expand and billions of people globally to target, reaching them with a native message is required to convey unique thoughts to unique people in varying cultures. By understanding the concepts of “localization” and “translation” and how these ideas affect your outreach, you will be able to adapt your message in order to resonate with your target audience and deliver higher value.

What Is Translation?

The term “translation” is pretty straightforward, especially to those who have long been making efforts to tap into global markets and expand their customer base. “Translation” is simply a word to word change, usually from one language to another. Anyone who seeks to appeal to consumers in a foreign market should expect to translate their message into the intended audience’s native language.

What Is Localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a company’s products, services, and materials (such as marketing collateral, sales material and other content), in order to provide a native look and feel that will be accepted in a target international market.

While translating a message is relatively straightforward, understanding “localization” in delivering a message across borders is equally important. Not only do words require a translation of language, a message should be tuned to the recipient’s unique culture and local tastes.

Be aware that as you build your brand images with items such as your logo, company name, and imagery, that some images and words may translate in a way you didn’t intend and may alter the image of your brand in certain markets. Research your prospective logo, company name, and other branding images to make sure words and symbols don’t translate offensively in a global market.

Have you ever watched a British sitcom and been confused by the humor, or marveled at the quirkiness of a Japanese game show? These programs were tailored to their main, intended audience and appealed to their societal codes of humor and entertainment.

Translation & Localization Considerations

When applying the translation and localization to any business content, consider the following questions:

  • What are the important traditions that my intended audience values and respects?
  • Are there any culture implications to my intended message? Might any part of my message offend my target market?
  • What are some of the important societal codes that my target market lives by as a whole? (Important etiquette standards, tendencies in humor, etc.)
  • What can I learn about my intended audience in regards to their societal values (their religious beliefs as a region or how they view certain relationships)?


Effective translation and localization efforts should preserve your core message across the board. As you maintain an understanding of these concepts, your business will continue to gain brand awareness and respect in global markets for all the right reasons.

If you want to get inspiration from companies that went global checkout Found in Translation: 7 Companies Transformed by Going Global [Infographic]