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Let’s talk about localization!

This week we’re going to take a look into the world of localization. If you’re new to the world of corporate localization, knowing what the difference is between all of these different services can be tricky. Like, is localization really all that different from translation? To answer that question and help you out, we’re going to walk you through the differences so that you have all the info you need!

Remember: if you don’t have time to read this now, how about saving it for later and downloading it as an e-book?

Translation vs localization

Let’s start right at the beginning! What’s the difference?! Translation and localization are similar services in that they both take one language and adapt your texts to another, but localization is a bit more complex than translation. While translation mainly focuses on words, localization looks at the bigger picture. Localization adapts more than words and looks at things like UX, pictures, numbers, currencies, etc. to make sure everything is culturally suitable for their new market.

Who needs localization services?

Anyone who’s doing business abroad can sure benefit from localization services. While technical documentation may not need localizing, things like websites, games, and other types of media (e.g. e-learning) are perfect. You see, different things resonate with different cultures, so changing pictures and colors, for example, can help set your brand up for success.

Examples of localization

Let’s visualize what we mean by taking a look at how some of the world’s biggest brands do things. Please don’t judge us though, it’s coming up to lunchtime so there’s a bit of a food theme going on!


Everyone knows coca-cola, no matter where you come from. And that’s partly down to their amazing localization strategies which cleverly mix American and local culture that everyone can relate to. Rewind back to 2013/2014, and you might remember their “share a coke” campaign. In the U.S., bottles featured common American names like Jake or Amy. But if you visited the Czech Republic, you’d see names like Petr and Alzbeta everywhere. 

Here, you can see just how subtle localization can be, but how important it is in making consumers feel like they matter to a brand. But…what about when things aren’t that easy? Take China, for example, it’s seen as rude to call people by their first names, so Coca Cola had to come up with a solution. What they did was instead of having people’s names written on the bottles, they used terms like “best friend” and “classmate” to break down that cultural barrier.

coca cola localization



Sticking with China, did you know what KFC had a bit of a translation mishap when they first opened there back in the 80s? Their slogan was translated to “eat your fingers off” rather than “finger-lickin’ good”, which put consumers off the brand. Luckily, though, they managed to bounce back by adapting their menus to suit local tastes. Rather than just having fried chicken, they added Chinese favorites like porridge to their menus so that older consumers could have something they’re used to while treating their children/grand-children to something more exotic!

KFC China Localization Dominos

You might be surprised that Dominos has a whopping 20% share of the fast-food market in India, putting it above the likes of McDonalds and Subway. But how did they do it? The answer is localization! Western pizzas don’t really appeal to Indian tastes, so rather than going in with your classic Hawaii or Margherita, they created a fusion of Indian classics. So, if you head to India, instead of getting yourself a mighty meaty, you’ll find the likes of paneer tikka instead.

Dominos India localization

Localization strategies

So…now you’ve seen the big guys localize, how do you implement a localization strategy yourself? First of all, don’t feel you need to come up with something as amazing as the campaigns we just spoke about. Everyone starts small, and that’s OK! All you need to do is follow these tips and you’ll be a localization expert in no time!

  • Hire a local team or partner with an agency (like ourselves) who have local expertise to help you. Going local will give you insights about different cultures you didn’t realize mattered, and help your brand resonate with that particular audience.
  • Create experiences that’ll mean people around the world get a good feeling from your brand. You want to be associated with something positive (e.g. McDonald’s being a special treat) so that you’re remembered for all the right reasons.
  • Localizing rather than translating will help your brand feel like the local choice for consumers, which is what you want. Even localizing for California and New York, for example, can make a big difference. So see the smaller picture while trying to grow big.
  • Finding your USP (unique selling point) can really help – and that USP is not likely to be the same all around the world. Different countries equal different competition, so how you make yourselves stand out needs to change depending on where you’re going.
  • By being a part of local communities, you can make a difference where it really matters. People may not care if you’re helping a charity in Japan if they’re in the U.S., they want to see you helping people like them.

Final thoughts

Now that we’ve covered everything that goes into a localization strategy, we’ll leave you with a few final thoughts. Remember – localization success doesn’t happen overnight, so make sure you’re willing to put the effort in. Also, remember there will be some technical and social factors you need to consider, too, so keep that in mind when planning your time.

Finally, know that we’re here for you. We’ll listen to your global goals and turn them into reality – so don’t be shy and get in touch!

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