The Difference Between Surviving and Succeeding in Localization

Too many companies, ranging from small start-ups to internationally recognized brands, see their global operations as a non-priority. They’ve fallen into the trap of defining their expansion efforts based on gaining a minimal presence in multiple global markets. This is what we call having global governance while lacking local execution—a particularly complacent approach to expansion. The most unfortunate part: companies who follow this mold are largely unaware of what it’s is actually costing them.

Companies with globally complacent tendencies tend to take one of two approaches to reaching their target markets; they either keep their content in English, banking on the dying idea that English is still the dominant business language, or they use a machine translation engine like Google Translate to reach out to global locales, which can end up being more costly than just sticking with English.

Why bother with translation?

If you have a superior product, shouldn’t everything else take care of itself?

Not necessarily…

“Can’t read; won’t buy”—

Globally, 70% of people prefer to buy in their native language. An equally compelling fact; most of these people will actually pay more for a product that is displayed in their native tongue. No matter what your business offers, providing it in the customer’s language is a distinct advantage.

English is no longer the language of the internet—

English was the first language to truly get its hand on the internet, and that head start lead to years of that one language dominating the web. However, the world wide tides have started to shift in the new millennium. In an article by Quartz, it is stated that “In 1996, more than 80 percent of Internet users were native English speakers. By 2010, that percentage had dropped to 27.3 percent.” In recent times it has become apparent that the internet itself is globalizing.

Lionbridge uses experienced, in-country translators. We are able to translate content contextually, with the end goal being that the content presented to the target market has an equal effect than it did when it was first shown to local customers.

Why not save money and use free machine translation?

This is a valid question from any company on the verge of expansion. It can seem like a viable option, especially for those without the largest budget looking to save money. However, it’s important to note that in order to succeed globally, a company must execute locally.

“Cookie cutters work best on cookies”—

Setting up an identical, cookie-cutter translation method for every target market comes with huge risks. More often than not, it results in mis-translations of your content, and therefore a failure in the communication of your intended message (see exhibit A).

What are you missing out on by foregoing a thorough localization?—

Localization entails not only translating properly, but also making perfectly sure that the product works, linguistically and functionally, in the target market. This entails the examination of everything from the cultural implications of certain colors to altering online purchasing portals to make sure they function for different currencies.

With almost 20 years in the localization business, Lionbridge has emerged as the industry-leader in translation and localization services. Over this time we’ve continued to innovate, creating new technologies and services to cater to the constantly surfacing complexities involved with bringing a business to the global front.

Don’t just survive with translation; get local and succeed in localization.