What is Internationalization, Globalization, and Localization?
If you are a company looking to expand your presence and operations geographically, you must have come across the terms – internationalization, globalization, and localization. These terms may seem the same. Often, many use them interchangeably. Although all of them intend to help a business establish a foothold in the local and global market, they have various technical differences. Understanding what they are and their differences can help you leverage them well. So, let’s look at internationalization vs. globalization vs. localization.
What is Internationalization?
Internationalization is the process of designing products, software, and content to adapt them to the needs of various languages and cultures. The process requires the expertise of a subject matter expert to separate the code or content from a particular language or cultural assumptions to simplify translation or localization.
An example of internationalization could be that of a global fast-food brand adapting its menu to suit the eating habits and culture of the target customers from a specific region.
What is Globalization?
As the name suggests, globalization refers to preparing products or services aligned with global needs and requirements. While language and culture matter to globalization, it also considers the variations in the technical infrastructure, legal systems, and regulatory needs. It involves fathoming the local markets and customs to ensure success. Globalization demands a significant amount of effort, money, and time, as it incurs considerable research, marketing, and development.
Partnering with local suppliers other than the native country is one example of globalization. Manufacturing companies are extensively involved in this process, as they source or procure parts, components, etc., from various suppliers worldwide to minimize manufacturing costs and maximize their profits.
What is Localization?
Now, what is localization? It usually follows internationalization and is a significant step from the viewpoint of gaining local visibility, trust, and confidence. So, what is localization? It involves adapting a product or service to the linguistic and cultural requirements of a particular market, region, or country. It usually includes content translation (text, audio, video, and graphics). However, it doesn’t limit itself to translation but aligning various other aspects like colors, menu (for instance, website or mobile app menu), script formatting, etc., per the local preferences.
Localization is a complex process. Hence, it requires companies to partner with localization experts and have localization resources at their disposal to deal with its various technical complexities. Some potential benefits of localization include the following.
- Making something look and appear more native
- Broadened local outreach
- Increased local trust
- Enhanced customer experience and satisfaction
- Increased customer loyalty
- Increased local business opportunities and sales
An example of localization could be an airline company localizing its website or mobile application in multiple languages for diverse cultures, enabling travelers from various countries to book air tickets, packages, etc., in their local currency.
In a nutshell, here’s what internationalization, globalization, and localization are.
- Internationalization: Designing products, software, and content to align and adapt them to requirements of diverse cultures and languages.
- Globalization: Preparing products or services to match the needs and requirements of the global audience.
- Localization: Adapting to the linguistic and cultural needs of a specific market, region, or country. The idea is to resonate with the local audience.
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