Everything You Need to Know about Localization: Definitions, Practical Examples, and Core Principles

Table of Contents

Localization strategically expands a product’s reach and fosters meaningful connections with target customers, ultimately boosting sales and cultivating unwavering consumer trust. It’s worth noting that it goes beyond mere language adaptation; it also plays a pivotal role in crafting unique experiences and fostering audience engagement within a specific country. Here’s everything you need to know about to achieve success


Localization refers to the complex process of adapting a product or content to meet the specific market demands of a particular country. This detailed process includes adjusting language, visuals, audio, layouts, dimensions, metrics, colors, cultural symbols, and other elements to create an unparalleled audience experience.

In the field of translation, it’s primary goal is to guarantee a smooth interaction and understanding for the intended audience. It makes the product feel more personal and relevant, creating a sense of closeness between a brand and its target customers.

Applicable content include:

  1. Website content: The localization process encompasses a thorough transformation of titles, content, visuals, icons, graphics, and more as well as creates links and navigation buttons that are thoughtfully aligned with the customs and regulations of the specific region.
  2. Mobile applications: Localization involves optimizing various elements within an app, including app names, introductions, menus, notifications, tutorials, and game content such as narratives, instructions, character names, icons, attire and more. This comprehensive process applies to diverse application genres like social networking apps, game apps, travel and booking apps, learning apps, e-commerce apps, health apps, etc.    
  3. Software products: The localization effort encompasses interface restructuring and design improvements, custom feature sets and access permissions, improved descriptions, instructions, documentation, forms, date formats, units of measurement, currency formats, order protocols, tools, and relevant legal regulations. Localization extends to medical software, accounting solutions, business administration tools, project management platforms, asset management systems, office software applications, web browsers, and other software products to establish a smooth user experience.
  4. Marketing and promotional materials: To enhance the brand’s image among customers in different countries, businesses should engage in the localization of documents such as: brochures, catalogs, corporate profiles, blog posts, and video subtitles for product promotions, messages, and other advertising content to suit the preferences and characteristics of the target audience.
  5. Technical documents: Skilled experts will perform localization to adapt the content, units of measurement, formats, and charts to meet the specific requirements of each country.
  6. Subtitle content: When a movie, TV show, or video is aired in a different country, performing language localization during subtitle translation is crucial to ensure the content is linguistically and culturally tailored for the target audiences.
What is Localization? Your complete guide - Thao & Co.

What does it encompass?

Language Localization

Language localization is linguistically adapting a product or textual content to seamlessly align with a specific country’s context, culture, and legal aspects.

This process aims to create an audience experience that feels natural and understandable. At the same time, it also enhances engagement and ensures harmonious interaction with local customers, generating significant business value for the enterprise.

Depending on the content and project specifications, you may require creative translation or SEO translation:

  1. When it comes to localizing content, such as marketing materials, advertisements, slogans, or creative content, transcreation is essential. Transcreation, or creative translation, requires adaptability and resourcefulness in conveying meanings, emotions, and ideas from the source to the target language. On this basis, localization establishes a positive connection with the reader or target customer.
  2. Whether it’s website content, mobile apps, or any material related to search engine optimization (SEO), it is vital to ensure that translation adheres to SEO best practices. This process involves aligning the translated content with designated keywords and SEO requirements. Doing so ensures that the optimized content has the potential to appear in search results and attract traffic from the target audiences.

How does it differ from General Translation?

The general translation approach focuses mainly on transferring the meaning from one language to another. General translation often neglects the significance of adapting content to the target market’s audience’s cultural and lifestyle nuances.

On the other hand, Localization focuses on adapting content and linguistic components to align with specific local requisites. This approach is designed to foster an intimate and relevant audience experience.

Functional Localization

Functional localization involves customizing menu bar components, buttons, date formats, units of measurement, payment functionalities, purchasing attributes, and more to meet the specific requirements of regional markets.

The primary objective here is to establish a user experience that is seamlessly accessible across cultural variances, local practices, and conventions. Indeed, this special type of translation is essential to a market expansion strategy.  By adopting this approach, the prodcut’s oprerational efficiency can be guaranteed while providing significant benefits to the target audience.

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Interface Localization

Interface localization is the careful customization of the user interface to align with the preferences and behaviors of the target market. This detailed process involves adjusting language characteristics, symbols, colors, images, and other elements representing a specific region.

The importance of localization lies in its ability to create a user experience that is welcoming and user-friendly. The new version brings customers a sense of familiarity so they can easily engage with the interface.

For example, specific languages like Arabic, Farsi, and others are read from right to left. The arrangement and formatting of text within the user interface can be adjusted in diverse countries to harmonize with the reading preferences of each distinct consumer segment.     

Businesses benefit from this

Localization offers numerous benefits for businesses as they expand into global markets and extend their influence:

  1. ● Enhanced engagement and connection: By offering customized products tailored to the target country’s language, culture, and regulations, enterprises can establish strong and positive connections with their customers.
  2. ● Improved user experience: Localization enables businesses to create exceptional user experiences, thereby enhancing credibility. In translation, localization plays a significant role in making users feel at ease and encouraging them to engage more passionately.
  3. ● Enhanced competitiveness: Localization helps businesses gain a competitive edge over their rivals and establish a unique presence within customers’ perceptions.
  4. ● Increased conversion rates: Businesses build trust and receive customer support by understanding and respecting the local culture. Ultimately, localization leads to increased conversion rates and improved business operational efficiency.

Practical Examples

Localization done right

When McDonald’s decided to expand into the Indian market, they skillfully adjusted and customized their menu to align with the preferences and culinary expectations of the Indian population. McDonald’s introduced remarkable choices like the McAloo Tikki Burger, Maharaja Mac, and McSpicy Paneer, showcasing their ability to adapt to regional flavors. They creatively designed recipes by incorporating local products and spices such as: Paneer, aloo tikki, masala, oil seeds, cumin seeds, parsley seeds, and more suited to the palate and nutritional demands of the Indian populace.

McDonald's : Localization Example - Thao & Co.

Furthermore, McDonald’s has taken localization to a new level by customizing its user interfaces to seamlessly align with each country’s linguistic and cultural nuances. They employ translation to their websites, mobile applications, and instructional materials in local languages and skillfully adapt the interface to meet unique cultures. This feature enables users to engage quickly and conveniently purchase according to their cultural background and language preferences.

McDonald’s has successfully implemented localization strategies, resulting in a strong global brand presence in various countries worldwide. This allows them to create a seamless user experience that resonates with customers, building trust in the brand.

Localization gone wrong

When Walmart ventured into the Chinese market, they faced significant obstacles in accurately translating their brand name and slogan into Chinese.

Initially, Walmart decided to keep their original name, “Walmart” for their operations in China. However, upon transliteration into Chinese characters, the resulting name sounded like “Wò ěr mǎ,” which humorously means “beating a turtle” in Chinese. This linguistic misstep resulted in widespread misunderstandings and discomfort among Chinese consumers.

As a result, Walmart launched a re-branding drive and chose the moniker “Wǒmài” as an alternative. Unfortunately, when translated into English, this moniker means “I sell” or “I trade.” The localization of this information is also misleading and does not accurately represent the true essence of the Walmart brand.

Walmart: Localization Example - Thao & Co.

Walmart’s challenges with translation have hindered its ability to establish a strong presence and reputation in the Chinese market. As a result of these misunderstandings, customers might feel uncertain and skeptical about Walmart’s core values and business principles.

Implementing localization strategies doesn’t guarantee immediate success; it demands diligent effort and a profound grasp of the target market. To succeed, businesses must dedicate time and resources to comprehend and respect the culture and rules of the target market.

There are other great examples of localization strategy that you can learn more to gain wider perspectives.

Vital principles

Mastering the vital principles of localization is crucial for businesses to create exceptional user experiences, foster trust, and effortlessly penetrate new markets.

  1. ● Effective pre-localization planning is essential in establishing a structured and focused approach. Such preparation enhances the likelihood of success while minimizing uncertainties associated with localization.
  2. ● Comprehensive research is fundamental to understanding customers’ culture, customs, language, preferences, etc. in the target country, enabling businesses to make relevant adjustments.
  3. ● Collaborating with skilled translators and maintaining consistent communication helps prevent misunderstandings and promote positive engagement.
  4. ● Conducting frequent localization tests and gathering customer feedback allows for continuous improvement and refinement of the localization.

Effective Localization Solutions for Global Outreach    

The assistance of professionals is crucial in helping a businesses develop effective localization strategies and achieve success in their target markets. At Thao & Co., we are proud to be a trusted partner for various global enterprises, providing exceptional translation and localization services for Games, Apps, Websites, Software, and other types of content with a multitude of extraordinary benefits:

Thao & Co. professional Translation and Localization Services

A skilled team of native experts

At Thao & Co., our team of native experts has a profound understanding of the local culture, including the nuances of customs, habits, values, and regulations. Our translators and proofreaders are skilled at conveying your message precisely, ensuring that the localized end product resonates deeply with the cultural essence of your intended audiences.

Professional workflow

Thao & Co.’s workflow tailors the product to seamlessly align with the target audience, fostering an exceptional experience and amplifying the chances of success in the target market.

Phase 1: Pre-translation preparations

Before the project can get started, Thao & Co. begins by setting out clearly defined goals and requirements of the content with the ultimate goal of developing a localization kit. Afterwards, we lay out a detailed execution plan, allocate resources, and provide a comprehensive cost estimate. Additionally, you can make us of our Translation Guidelines service to ensure consistency throughout the entire project.

Phase 2: Translation + proofreading

Experienced and seasoned linguists adeptly transform documents, websites, manuals, and content into the target local language. Meticulous adjustments are made to various aspects, such as product names, location names, titles, and descriptions, to align with cultural and linguistic nuances seamlessly.

Phase 3: Refinement and post-production evaluation

After the translation phase, Thao & Co. conducts a thorough review to ensure the precision and suitability of the adapted elements. We engage in a meticulous localization testing phase to evaluate how seamlessly the translation aligns with the interface and context.

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A variety of Supplementary Services for all of your needs

Thao & Co.‘s professional team offers a wide range of comprehensive support services, including:     

  1. SEO Keyword Glossary: Our team conducts thorough research to create a customized SEO keyword glossary for your target market, maximizing your visibility in search results.
  2. Consumer Language ResearchⒸ: Thao & Co. thoroughly researches consumer language before localization, striving to comprehend specialized terms, relevant phrases, and unique linguistic nuances specific to the target market.
  3. Customized Integration and Linguistic Review: At Thao & Co., IT specialists seamlessly integrate translated content into software products, including apps and websites, with expert linguists assessing translations for cultural alignment.
  4. Creative translation: In addition to our comprehensive translation and localization services, Thao & Co. provides creative translation that crafts unique copies, captivating consumers with heightened efficiency.

The key to success in localization lies in businesses understanding the core principles and choosing the best strategies. This stands as a pivotal determinant in successfully entering new markets.

For more in-depth information, please visit our Get A Quote page for a prompt consultation today!

Translation and Localization Services in 50+ languages

Thao & Co. provides high-quality Translation and Localization Services in more than 50 languages:

  • • English Translation and Localization
  • • Chinese (simplified) Translation and Localization
  • • Chinese (traditional) Translation and Localization
  • • Japanese Translation and Localization
  • • Korean Translation and Localization
  • • Vietnamese Translation and Localization
  • • Russian Translation and Localization
  • • Spanish Translation and Localization
  • • Danish Translation and Localization
  • • French Translation and Localization
  • • Arabic Translation and Localization
  • • German Translation and Localization
  • • Dutch Translation and Localization
  • • Catalan Translation and Localization
  • • Indonesian Translation and Localization
  • • Portuguese Translation and Localization
  • • Etc.
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