Adaptive Marketing: Translation vs. Localization

Translation or localization, that is the ques—hold on, aren’t they the same thing?

It’s not uncommon to see these terms used interchangeably, but in the language service industry, they produce radically different outcomes. Before diving into the application, let’s take a moment and define terms.

Translation – the process of changing a source language into a target language by substituting words from one language to another. This is necessary if you want someone in Korea to precisely understand how to use a medical device, it is important that the source and target-language text match up word for word.

Localization – also known as “L10N”, this is a more involved process whereby content is adapted instead of directly converted. Your target language version will often not be a literal translation, but it will have the same connotation in the target culture.


Translation vs. Localization

Translation does not provide the same degree of cultural nuance as localization, but it can convert literal content very efficiently. Often used to process large volumes of unambiguous text, it has a faster turnaround and is typically billed by the word.

Localization engages the target audience on a deeper level; it accounts for cultural factors such as slangs, preferences, and stigmas to create emotional impact, build relationships or establish brand identity. This service may be billed per word, hourly or as a flat fee per project.

The secret to adaptive marketing

The secret to adaptive marketing

Successful entry into a foreign market is often accompanied by an adaptive marketing strategy. Localization is the secret weapon that tailor-fits a brand or product for a chosen demographic in a specific region.

“To compete in today’s global economy, organizations must adapt or localize marketing content to clearly resonate with  their international audiences.”

In 1979, Coca-Cola attempted to penetrate the Chinese market. The company rebranded itself using words that sounded like Coca-Cola but actually meant “delicious & joyous” in Chinese. The rebranding resonated with consumers and Coca-Cola became one of the first international companies to successfully re-enter the market following the end of the Cultural Revolution and the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S.

Brand name associated

On the other hand, a brand name associated with quality in one language may have serious negative connotations in another. An Iranian razor manufacturer used the brand name “Tiz,” the Persian word for “sharp,” to illustrate the quality of its product. When the company began exporting the razors to nearby Qatar, they learned that “tiz” was the Arabic slang word for “buttocks,” which the Arabic-speaking residents of Qatar found highly offensive. Sales of the razors plummeted and the Iranian manufacturer lost money on the failed marketing campaign.

Take your campaign to the next level

With a focused strategy and an experienced LSP partner to help pave the way, your marketing campaign will quickly gain traction on the fast-track to success.

Olingual translation and localization services streamline projects for seamless cultural integration. Our SMART Evaluation analyzes content for the most impactful and cost-effective marketing solutions. Contact us today for a free consultation and gain expert insight into industry best practices.

Take your campaign to the next level