It is vitally important that any brand introducing a new product to a global marketplace needs to consider localisation, internationalisation and globalisation well before the launch. This is not only to present a clear and professional image of the brand but also to avoid any confusion or embarrassment when dealing with multi-national clients.globalization_globe_2

In this piece we’ll be taking a closer look at the difference between localisation, internationalisation and globalisation, and how they work together as part of a well-designed global marketing strategy.

What Is Localisation?

Localisation is the process of adapting a product, website or piece of content for multiple cultures or localities so that it seems natural to that particular region. This typically involves translating written content as well as modifying images, symbols and other culturally specific elements.

It may also involve going beyond word-for-word translation and revising some messages or sayings so that they convey the intended meaning, rather than the literal one. For instance, business clichés like “breaking down barriers” or “picking the low-hanging fruit” are easily understood in English but likely won’t make sense when translated into another language. Likewise, a website that shows stock images of Oxford Street bustling with Londoners makes it obvious that the site was originally intended for users in the United Kingdom.

What Is Internationalisation?

Internationalisation is the process of generalizing a product so it can be localised for different cultures and regions without needing to be redesigned. In a website example, it sets the framework for the content and design to ensure it will be easy for anyone to read. Internationalisation includes considering factors such as:

  • Having the functionality to support various dates, time and currency formats
  • Ensuring you have the functionality to support various characters and fonts
  • Making sure you have enough space to accommodate translated text; which can often be longer than the original
  • A user interface that accommodates reading either right to left or left to right, depending on the language

What Is Globalisation?

Globalisation is the process of conceptualising your product for the global marketplace so it can be sold anywhere in the world with only minor revisions.

Globalisation is doing your due diligence, including conducting market research and studying cultural customs in that new market. This due diligence will avoid any embarrassing misinterpretations or becoming lost-in-translation across the professional sphere when dealing with international business.

The Four-Legged Stool Supporting Your Global Brand

Although most people think immediately of translation when they think of launching a global website or marketing campaign, this is typically the last step in the process.

The acronym GILT is one way to remember how these four elements work together to support a global brand.

  • Globalisation - Conduct thorough market research and develop a strategy for reaching your target market.
  • Internationalisation - Consider how your website, software or product needs to be developed so it can easily be adapted to that market and any others.
  • Localisation - Pay attention to slogans, phrases, images, formats for dates and times and other elements that will need to be modified so it will be easily understood within that culture.
  • Translation - Convert text into your target language and ensure it conveys its intended meaning.

All this involves careful planning and attention to detail, but it can save significant time and money later. One software manufacturer found nearly half of all its customer support costs came from helping customers who couldn’t understand technical documents written in English.

Taking the time to consider these important elements also gives you a competitive advantage and makes it more likely for your products and services to be profitable.