Translation Vs Localization Vs Internationalization — Finding the Right Fit for Your Business?

From e-commerce websites to SaaS platforms to restaurant chains, and more – today every business, big or small, wants to cater to the global audience. But reaching out to 8.1 billion people, speaking different languages and following different cultures, is not easy. For an impeccable presence, you need to make sure that your business not only caters to their needs but also speaks in the language they understand. That’s where internationalization, translation, and localization services come into play. While they look related and are often used interchangeably, each term carries a distinct meaning and serves a unique purpose. So, before you plan to expand your business to new locales, it is important to understand each of these terms and how each of these services can help your business scale global heights.

Audiovisual Translation

Source: Quora

What is Translation?

One of the most common and well-known terms, ‘Translation’ refers to the process of converting your content (or text) from one language to another (word-by-word) while retaining its original meaning, style, and context. The main aim of translation services is to break language barriers and make your content readily accessible to non-native speakers. Accuracy and consistency are the two important parameters during website translation. Professional translation services ensure that the content reads naturally to its new audience while retaining the original meaning as closely as possible.

While content translation is a great tool for companies that aspire to go global, it alone may not address the cultural nuances, regional preferences, or specific requirements of a particular country or community. For example, consider a marketing slogan like “Just Do It” by Nike. When translated word-for-word into another language, it may lose its impact or cultural relevance and may not resonate as strongly as it does in English-speaking countries. That’s why, translation alone may not effectively convey the intended message across different cultural contexts.

Similarly, think of a United States-based merchandise store that decides to expand its business to Japan and translate its website content from English to Japanese. While the translation accurately conveys the product descriptions and pricing, it fails to consider the cultural preferences and sizing conventions of Japan.

Moreover, Japanese consumers may have different expectations regarding website layout, payment methods, and customer service. A simple translation of the website without considering these cultural nuances and preferences may result in a disconnect with the target audience and hinder the company’s success in the Japanese market.

That’s why, to be successful in international markets, it has become imperative for businesses to move beyond language translation services and embrace localization and internationalization strategies.

What is Localization?

Localization takes translation a step further. It is the process of adapting content to suit the cultural preferences, norms, and sensitivities of the target audience. This includes customizing images, graphics, colors, currencies, date formats, writing style, and even product names to align with local customs. Professional localization services focus on adapting cultural nuances and delivering an intuitive and familiar experience to the target audience – one with which they can easily relate.  

For example, building website localizing strategy for the same United States-based merchandise store would mean adapting the website’s design, layout, and content to suit the preferences and expectations of Japanese consumers. This could include incorporating Japanese language support, adjusting color schemes, writing styles, text length, direction, and imagery to align with local tastes, implementing local payment methods commonly used in Japan, and providing customer support channels in Japanese. Additionally, localization may involve cultural considerations such as highlighting holidays and events significant to the Japanese market, using appropriate symbols and icons to ensure the new content doesn’t breach local taboos, and ensuring that product descriptions and marketing messages resonate with the local audience’s values and beliefs.

While localization can be seen as an extension of translation, internationalization is a corporate strategy to adapt products and services to the international markets. Let’s see what website internationalization is.

What is Internationalization?

Internationalization, often abbreviated as i18n, is the process of designing and developing products and services in a way that makes them easily adaptable to different languages, cultures, and regions without the need for extensive redesign or modification. Internationalization starts right at the time of project development and involves implementing coding standards, character encoding, and user interface elements that support multilingual content and accommodate variations in date formats, currencies, and other cultural conventions. The idea is to make the content as culturally neutral as possible by removing culture-specific references or slang. 

By adopting internationalization best practices from the outset, businesses can streamline the localization process and make their offerings accessible and appealing to diverse global audiences.

Source: GraphicSurf

Internationalization vs Localization vs Translation – The Key Difference

Here’s the side-by-side comparison between the three. Read it to know how they differ from each other and yet contribute to your global business strategy:

DefinitionConverts text from one language to anotherAdapts content to suit local culture and languagePrepares products and services for global markets
GoalTo break language barriersTo enhance user experience and engagementTo expand business reach and global market share
EmphasisWord-by-word language conversionCultural, linguistic, and functional adjustmentsGlobal product and service development
BenefitsEnsures language accuracy and meaning preservationFacilitates cultural and regional adaptationHelps in developing global market strategy

Do Translation, Localization, and Internationalization Complement Each Other?

Translation, localization, and internationalization are all important components in the process of global business expansion. Each aspect plays a vital role in ensuring that products and services are effectively adapted and accessible to diverse markets and audiences.

That’s why, they must work together to work the best.



While translation is a technical approach to switching words from one language to another, localization gives the exact linguistic meaning to the context. Internationalization, on the other hand, prepares products and services for global markets right from the development phase. It involves designing the website and backend systems in a scalable and flexible manner to support multiple languages, cultural variations, and market-specific requirements so that the platform can easily accommodate future translations and localizations without significant redesign or reprogramming.

Partner with Experts and Make the Most of Technology!

The easiest and fastest way to expand your business horizons (and impress your global audience) is to partner with a professional translation and localization service provider. With proven expertise, advanced technology, and comprehensive yet cost-effective services, professional language service providers can help you design globalization strategies that work best for your business and deliver impactful, culturally relevant content to diverse audiences worldwide.

So, invest in the right partnerships to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction, drive business growth, and achieve success on a global scale. We are just one click away!

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Rishi Anand

Rishi is a Language enthusiast and Founder and CEO of Linguidoor Translation and Localization Services based in Berlin, Germany. He is passionate about the Localization Industry, and he has a keen interest in sharing Insights, News, and development to create awareness, educate, and inspire.


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