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Lifting the Lid on Translation and Localisation

It is likely that you have heard the terms ‘translation’ and ‘localisation’. They are fairly common terms, and they are often used interchangeably by brands wishing to expand their services overseas.

However, did you know that they actually refer to different services?

It is true that both wield the shared aim of adapting your brand’s content into a new language to reach a new audience. However, there is a fundamental difference between them:

With translation, it is the meaning of a text which gets transferred. With localisation, it is the experience.

In this blog, we’re going to delve further into the differences between translation and localisation. But if you’re still unsure on anything after reading, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Translation as the Starting Point

Translation is the process of rendering text from one language into another so that meaning is equivalent. It is often thought as the first step within localisation as it converts the written words from one language into another and thus enables a piece of text to be read by a new audience.

However, to be ‘read’ by a new audience is as far as translation gets. Although sentence structure and grammar are of course adjusted within translation, it is important for translators to stay true to the original text. This means that any cultural referents specific to the source country held within the source text will be translated faithfully with no adaptation.

Now, you may be thinking that such a fidelity is a good thing. And if you are, you wouldn’t be wrong! It is great to respect the author’s intentions, and in a literary or even technical text, we’re all for it!

The problem is that, within marketing texts, such a loyal translation may decrease engagement with your desired audience.

For example, if you’re selling a sports drink which claims to make you feel like Harry Kane, you have to ask yourself whether retaining the name Harry Kane in your Italian marketing campaign would have the same effect as it would in your English. After all, we’re not so sure Italian kids would want to feel like Harry Kane. Surely they would rather feel like Ciro Immobile?

Translation therefore has certain limitations. This is where localisation comes into play.

Delving Deeper with Localisation

Once a translation has been provided, localisation delves deeper. Addressing cultural and visual components as well as linguistic issues, localisation helps you relocate your product to a new country. In other words, it enables your desired audience to feel like your document is made for them.

But, how does this work in practice? Aside from cultural references such as football players, there are several elements which localisation can influence.

Numeric Differences.

When localising your text, you need to ensure that all measurements, dates and currencies conform to that which are used in your target market.

For example, if you’re targeting Spain, you’d need to use euros rather than pounds. This conversion of currency would be an example of localisation.

Visual Considerations.

Before commencing your overseas campaign, you need to ensure that all images work in the context of the target culture.

For example, whilst a bacon bap may be an enticing image for a British audience, this would unlikely be the case for an Arabic-speaking audience. This is because, in many Arab countries, pork is a forbidden food. Advertising including such an image therefore might be disrespectful. Localisation would consequently alter this image.

Formatting Differences.

If you are localising your text, you will also need to think about the layout of your content. If your advert were in Arabic for example, you would need to flip it so that both the writing and visual content read right to left.

Furthermore, if the language were to use a non-Roman script such as Japanese, it would probably be good for you to alter the font size and type. This will help your customer read it clearly. These little stylistic differences are all examples of localisation.

Why is Localisation Important?

In a nutshell, localisation is what makes your marketing campaign work. It is what adapts your brand to the cultural elements of your target audience. It is what makes your customers connect to a brand. Quite simply, if you wish to provide an equal experience for all, localisation is the way forward.


Have more questions about localisation that you’d like answering? Feel free to get in touch via our social media or drop us an email. We’re always more than happy to help!

Interested in learning more about the translation industry and its terminology? Why not check out our Lifting the Lid on Translation and Interpreting blog post?

International Marketing | A Focus on Your Customer’s Wellbeing

It is no secret that the online world of social media and marketing can often present a picturesque veneer of an idyllic universe. A universe in which we all have our affairs in order and look picture perfect at any given moment.

Whilst this world can at times provide a welcome escape from the monotony of daily life, it can also isolate many. What is more, this isolation is exacerbated by the fact that the picture-perfect world is often singular, representing one standard of beauty, one version of culture, one language of communication.

The consequence of such a singular marketing strategy is that many feel left out. This both can then negatively influence your prospective customer’s mental health and furthermore reduce engagement with your brand. Quite simply, it’s a lose-lose situation.

This is where localised marketing comes into play. It is common knowledge, that if you want your business to succeed, you need to consider your Ideal Client Profile. But how do you actually talk to your specific client and how do you make them listen?

In this blog, we at Web-Translations are going to provide you with some tips to make sure you’re localising your content the right way. So, get your pen and paper and get ready to start jotting!

1. Language

It may seem like an obvious starting point, but if you’re planning to target the individual customer, you need to do so in their own language. For example, if you’d like to target a Chilean customer, you can’t simply translate your content into ‘Spanish’. You need to ensure that your content is professionally localised into Chilean Spanish.

This is because certain vocabulary has different meanings depending on the country in which it is spoken. For example, whilst ‘guagua’ means ‘baby’ in Chile, it means ‘bus’ in Puerto Rico. Quite different you have to admit!

Image to show language of marketing.

Although these differences can be comical, they immediately illustrate to the customer that they are not the priority audience. In other words, they immediately suggest that the business doesn’t care about them.

This can then increase the likelihood of a disconnect arising between customer and advert. Research is vital to ensure you’re translating into the right language for your audience. If you need guidance, we would be happy to advise!

2. Content

It is not uncommon for adverts to include cultural references within their content. In likening their product to something associated with a celebrity, many brands may increase their appeal.

For example, if a musician were to liken their new album to the sound of Take That in the 90’s, many British customers would likely be excited at the prospect.

The same might not be said however for a German audience. After all, they’re probably not as up to date with Take That’s greatest hits as we are!

It might be a good idea therefore to domesticate this reference. In other words, it might be a good idea to replace the comparison to Take That to a German band that has a similar sound. (Maybe Scooter would be a good option…?) Your customer still may not recognise the band, but they are more likely to recognise something from their own culture than another’s.

3. Aesthetic

Furthermore, the images used within your marketing campaign should be relevant to your specific audience. For example, if you’re selling a baked good which has a unique selling point of making you feel at home, you might want your image to reflect your target audience’s home and not the source country’s home.

House to show marketing.

It’s not rocket science, but you might be surprised by how much of a difference it makes.

4. Music

Music is integral to any marketing campaign. Establishing the mood of the video, music has the potential to instantaneously unlock your desired emotion in your customer.

Although it’s often the melody that triggers a reaction, the lyrics may also play a fundamental role.

When adapting your content for each target market therefore, it might be a good idea to think about altering the audio. Whether you substitute the English lyrics for Polish or replace the English song for a Polish song for example, time should be taken to ensure your specific audience is being catered to.

5. Timing

Lastly, our final aspect to consider is time. Across the globe, there are more than 24 different time zones. When planning your social media campaign, these time zones need to be respected. For example, if you’re a British company trying to branch into Mexico, tweeting at 9am GMT is futile. Whilst 9am is a great time of day to tweet, the same cannot be said for 3am in Mexico City.

When planning your social media campaign, therefore, take a moment to reflect upon the time zone of your target market.

After all, if you’re trying to target your customer directly, you don’t want there to be a 6 -hour delay between publication and reception! It may make your customer feel a little bit like an afterthought!


As we’ve established, therefore, it isn’t simply the case that one piece of content suits all. The language, content, aesthetic, music and timing of your content are all variables that should be adjusted and localised to your individual customer.

At the end of the day, it’s simple: people like to feel valued. If your marketing strategy can achieve such a goal, then not merely will you reap greater rewards, but you might just make people happier too!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog. If you’d like some more tips on reaching your ICP, why not check out our Spring Towards your Target Market blog post. Equally, if you’d like to read more blogs from our Mental Health series, why not start with our Mindfulness in Translation blog post?

First Time Exporters: Full Support for your Website Translation

As the liberalisation of global commerce continues, more and more companies are joining the international market every year. Exporting has traditionally been seen as one of the most risky, and expensive ways to grow a business.  While there are many pitfalls and challenges when trading internationally, the Internet offers an excellent way for you to reach out and grow your market share, without investing millions.

Global trade has never been so easy with the First time Exporters Guide. By working with Web-Translations you will have a partner to help you at every stage in your journey.  We combine years of experience, with top-quality language and web skills to offer a hand-held, strategic approach to boosting your global trade.

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International Trade – ask the expert!

This month in Yorkshire’s Insider magazine, Daniel Rajkumar, managing director of Web-Translations answered readers’ questions about web translation and emails, and setting up internationally usable websites.

Q: I have set up a new arm of my company in France as a base for drawing in business from across Europe. As I am looking at a lot of different countries do I need translation of the whole of my website or blog into all the possible European languages? Won’t English do?

A: “If you are serious about drawing business in from Europe you will have to have the website or blog professionally translated for the main language of each country you are targeting. People use the web for research and they search in their native language, so if your website is not multilingual, it will simply not be found.

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