Localisation is a specialised process which focuses on converting a message in one language to another language, taking into account the target audience’s culture, background and location.

You may well have stumbled upon the term ‘localisation’ during your online quest for a good translation agency. Though translation and localisation may seem interchangeable, there is a difference. But what is it? And what makes localisation essential to good intercultural communication?

The difference between localisation and translation

Let’s start by negating the idea that localisation and translation are two words for the same thing. There are countless examples of this assumption causing some rather awkward situations for certain companies. In some cases, those situations even lead to reputational damage. We’ll get to that in a different blog, though. For now, I’m going to focus on this blog’s main question: what exactly is localisation?

Localisation is a specialised process which focuses on converting a message in one language to another language, taking into account the target audience’s culture, background and location. It’s like translation 2.0: there’s a little more to it than solely translating.

Several aspects involved in the localisation process are:

  • Adjusting the spelling (the British English ‘localise’ v. the American English ‘localize’?)
  • Adjusting word choices (British English ‘lift’ v. American English ‘elevator’)
  • Adjusting units of measure (countries in the EU generally stick to the International System of Units, while the British and Americans use the Imperial and US Customary Measurement Systems. This system is still often used in the UK, which means that for some texts, the units of measure must be adjusted accordingly.)

Culture and context

Localisation, however, surpasses merely adjusting a text. It is a process that is also often applied in international advertising campaigns and product development for new markets. 

A great example is how fast food giant KFC tackled the task of gaining the interest of diners in China. The Chinese weren’t familiar with the chain’s trademark fried chicken. To prevent the Chinese diners from shying away from this new, 11-spiced experience, KFC decided to include several Chinese dishes on their menu in China. That way, the less adventurous customers could enjoy the more familiar dishes, while also having the option to try out some new American foods. A smart localisation move.

Localisation is also frequently applied in the realm of visual content, for instance when the emotional value of a specific image or certain colour within a culture doesn’t align with a company’s or brand’s message. 

What makes localisation so important?

The main reason behind the significance of localisation is avoiding miscommunication and embarrassing situations resulting from cultural differences. The last thing you want is to offend your audience by using a poorly chosen expression or word. It doesn’t take much to undermine all the work you put into a carefully developed (marketing) message. 

Localisation isn’t about dotting i’s and crossing t’s. It’s a process that requires anticipating far in advance, even before you start writing texts or developing a marketing strategy. 

Why is Ludejo the right choice for your localisation project?

We are interested in what you’re doing, what your area of expertise is and what kind of message your company, institute or foundation wishes to carry out. We want to help you grow and reach your target audience, wherever in the world they may be. 

Our translators take into account both textual and substantial aspects, such as cultural preferences, context and a suitable layout for your target audience. We guarantee that we provide you with content that suits your audience. High-quality content, whether it be a single document or an entire website. 

We also perform an extensive QA check on every localisation project. A QA check is usually the last step in the localisation process and thus largely determines the value of your work. Our QA specialists thoroughly inspect the quality of the work and ensure that any errors are resolved.