Localization is one of those profession-specific terms that is used by translators and marketers alike. It refers to the process of adapting a product or content of media to the preferences, expectations and culture of a particular locale. And it’s very important, especially to our field.
It isn’t enough to simply translate something word for word – it has to be translated in meaning between cultures and locales. When our job as translators involves texts that are accompanied by visuals, the target audience has to be taken into account. Marketers might team up with translators and localize a piece by doing some of the following:
- Use graphics which include people and places that reflect the local market
- Use design and text styles to showcase the text in ways that meet local consumer expectations
- Use local formats for things like dates, addresses, and phone numbers
- Modify content to specific audiences depending on tastes and buying history
The whole point of doing this is to give a product or a company the look and feel of something that was created by and for locals. Perhaps the example of McDonalds can help illustrate this point. McDonalds makes it a priority to not only translate their menus but also the actual dishes on those menus are localized. Preferences for certain sauces, flavours and sides are adapted and even local dishes are given a McDonalds variation. Translators working with their marketers would help develop marketing slogans and pitches that resonate with the relevant populations alongside these adapted favorites. This is why you can order a Greek salad with real feta in downtown Athens and the picture on the menu will have a Greek person holding it and maybe remarking on it in some locally acceptable way. Now, remember that all of that takes translation: of words, of images, of food,of culture. People consuming that salad might hardly remember that they are being served that dish by an American hamburger restaurant.
In other words, translation that takes up localization alongside it is big business. As experts in the language cultures we translate to and from, translators are often the go-to resource for localization tips and tricks – something marketing teams are keen to tap into. In an increasingly globalized world, this is a skill to hone and put forth as a professional translator – something to put your above the rest.
Key areas of the profession where localization and translation work tend to intersect include:
- Website design and content
- Product marketing
- Global services
- Medical and legal translation and interpretation
- Print and web media