Localization, Internationalization & Globalization: What Is the Difference?

 

The three horsemen of the apocalypse: localization, internationalization, and globalization. Do these three concepts mean the same thing? Or maybe not? Many people wrongly use these three words as synonymous. Although they have some similarities, it is very important to understand the differences before using these concepts in your conversations or before deciding to expand your company to new markets.

The abbreviation “GILT” (globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation) is used in our industry in order to describe the actions that companies undertake when deciding to expand outside their national borders. The most widely known of these four concepts is “translation”, which refers to the process of transferring text from one language to another. But what sets the other three apart? Let’s try to explain these 3 concepts.

What is Localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a specific locale. Its abbreviation “l10n” is also commonly used in the translation industry. Localization consists of numerous steps, and translation is just one of them. With localization, you can adapt your material or content to a target location’s consumption patterns. You can change date and time formats, addresses, numbers, currencies, and adapt visuals and graphics to meet the needs and preferences of a target market. For example, the American brand “Coca-Cola” broadcasts ads on every Ramadan month in Muslim countries and emphasizes the importance and the meaning of fasting. In that sense, localization can be seen as the adaptation of marketing practices and content production so as to appeal to the cultural characteristics of the target countries.

 

What is Internationalization?

The process of creating your app, website, or product to support many languages and different writing conventions is known as internationalization. It is also abbreviated as “i18n”. For any organization that produces multilingual products, internationalization is a key commercial procedure. It’s crucial to think about the numerous markets that a product will target. By applying a reliable and correct internationalization practice, your localization activities will be considerably easier, faster, and less expensive. Internationalization falls mainly under the responsibility of the development team and the software engineers.  These experts need to design the software code bases and the resources in a way that allows the application to be adapted to various locales without requiring changes to the code base. Localization should be considered from the start, as an integral part of the application’s architecture, to ensure an easier internationalization process.

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What is Globalization?

Any activity bringing people, cultures, and economies from various countries closer together is referred to as “globalization”. Globalization (shortened as “g11n”) is a term used in business to describe the processes companies use to become more connected to their customers all over the world. These activities involve everything from product design to marketing in different national markets. Thus, it is not wrong to say that globalization is a broad concept that includes internationalization and localization. In addition, g11n also includes company development activities like product management, research about different markets, and compliance with foreign trade laws and regulations.

Well-known brands like Nike, Adidas; media service provider Netflix; fast food chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Starbucks are successful companies adopting globalization strategies by adapting their content according to their target audience and it is unquestionable that they owe their success and profit to their g11n approaches.

In conclusion, it is not wrong to say that Internationalization, Globalization and Localization share the same goal: “going global“. Now the only thing you need to decide upon is the strategy you will choose and follow, in case you want to market your business to other countries.

Thinking about expanding your business to foreign markets or just need more info about how localization, internationalization and globalization work? Then get in touch with our friendly team!

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