What’s the Difference? – Localization, Globalization, Internationalization

The terms localization, globalization, internationalization may be perceived as being very similar. In fact, they are soo much alike that many people use them as synonyms and apply them alternately. However, there are some elegant and refined differences among them, which are tremendously important if a person is ambitious and willing to push the limits and expand the business globally. In order to achieve that goal, the brand to be successfully launched worldwide must send an energetic and vibrant message.

That is the crucial point where the acronym GILT comes into play. To fulfill the purpose of its coinage, the acronym stands for globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation. Why are these concepts soo important? The key to their importance lies in the involvement of the activities necessary for the international business expansion. Actually, they describe the steps to be undertaken to promote the particular brand-sometimes including all four, in this order, other times just some of them. Of course, the last part of the acronym-translation is the most known and it represents the message conveying from one language to the other, or simply, a certain language text transformation into a completely different one. Having clarified the last acronym segment, it is the others’ turn.

What Is Globalization?

Globalization is related to the process of communication and cooperation between different cultures and economies around the world. In business vocabulary, this term is more popular as “going global” and includes acts and practices used by companies, manufactures and organizations to connect with the customers beyond the borders of the country they originate from. To enable themselves with more faithful and satisfied consumers, these organizations need take care of various aspects of which product design and marketing are the essentials.

To make it easier to understand the concept, let’s examine closer a few examples of globalization in the world of business. As known globally, the most popular online marketplaces, Amazon and eBay successfully provide clients from different parts of the world with items vendors on the other side have to offer. Not only online markets are considered as a globalization result, but also classic stores and shopping malls where a huge range of brands are sold. For example, some electronic devices, although they are classified as a national brand of some country, the process of its design, production, marketing and final destination to a consumer’s home is very much global. It can be designed in Japan, raw materials can be provided from India, manufactured in China, then sold in Europe or America.

The similar thing happens with big franchises like McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King or Starbucks. Restaurant and coffee shop chains like them provide their services to the people in more than one hundred countries and their brand logos are recognized easily.

Another globalization product are streaming service companies like which allow their members to watch a wide variety of award-winning TV shows, movies, documentaries, and more on thousands of internet-connected devices. To reach numerous customers around the world, Netflix must customize its content for specific markets with appropriate subtitles and programming necessary for that particular part of the international market.

Even better examples are clothes and spots brands like Nike, Adidas or Reebok. Their logos are easily recognizable through different cultures and languages, especially Nike’s. These internationally known companies make partnerships with popular and successful sportsmen to promote their brand and equalize their professional achievement with the brand they represent.

The list of globalization products is extensive and we could go on with it even further, but there is no need. This is just enough to explain the phenomenon and its manifestation in our lives. Benefits of globalization for both companies and consumers are visible through the world economy boon in last decades and the world’s GDP increase in one third in the range of fifteen years only.

What Is Internationalization?

A corporate strategy like internationalization is about making adaptable products and services to ensure their entrance to various national markets. This strategy involves the professional knowledge of international markets and employs service of subject-matter and technical experts.

The internationalization process must include the alteration and redesign of products targeting foreign markets. Therefore, IKEA approaches this process by using diagrams and illustrations, without any written instructions. In this way, following the given pattern, any customer can assemble a purchased piece of furniture by himself, without any special textual explanation or a required translation. Isn’t a picture a great example of internationalization application in everyday life?

With software products and electronics, the process is different due to the necessary data encoding.While the ASCII character encoding is suitable for texts in most European languages, languages such as Russian, Chinese, Hindi, and Korean require other criteria. Therefore, character encodings such as Unicode are significant for the languages using different alphabets that the Latin. The process of alteration and adaptation must be undergone by hardware support and user interface as well. Particular hardware devices are not always available in some countries, whereas software application has to be translated into many languages.

What Is Localization?

 Localization means product adaptation to the intended market after the internationalization process termination.

The McDonald’s restaurant chain is present in lots of countries. That availability across the globe exemplifies globalization. As you have probably noticed while dining in a restaurant of this franchise, the menu can be adapted to distinctive local tastes and customs upon client’s request. This description is known as internationalization.

So, the first step taken is globalization, the internationalization and finally, localization. To define localization we can take the example of McDonald’s restaurants in Israel serving kosher food and drink. In this way, the food brand meets the local taste requirements. When closing during the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays, it meets local custom criteria. Tailoring its product and services for domestic consumers, McDonald’s has localized them without losing any of its global identity and fame.

How is Localization Different from Translation?

 Translation is involved with written text conversion, often from one language to another or multiple languages. On the other hand, localization deals with adjusting products to the local conditions and make them look like they originate from the target place. Usually, these processes are intertwined or, at least, they precede one another.

For this reason, Pixar remodeled its animation “Inside Out” in a scene when a character points to and reads a sign. Since not all languages in the world are read from left to right, the Arabic version of the film required adaptation so the character motions from right to left.

Localizing a product may bring more points which need to be focused on, such as naming conventions (e.g., people from certain cultures may not have last names or may have multiple last names), date and time formats, such as DD/MM/YYYY and MM/DD/YYYY (e.g., Hong Kong follows the first pattern while China Mainland applies the second), currency (symbol and amount), writing direction (left to right for most languages, but right to left in Hebrew and Arabic, and even vertical in some languages in Asia), system of measurement, i.e., metric or imperial, punctuation (quotation marks (“”) in English, low quotes (,,”) in German), symbols and pictograms, electrical voltages, frequencies, and plugs, etc.

Having these pieces of information in mind, and much more, website developers have a difficult task to meet users’ global, international and local requirements. Currencies can be best examples since not all of them use subunits, or at least, not apply them in practice.

Such currencies are the Japanese yen and the Chilean peso. Their subunits are actually very small (one U.S. dollar is equal to approximately 780 Chilean pesos and 107 Japanese yens). For that matter, without any necessity for subuits, e-commerce websites developed for this kind of audience apply only a single-integer variable. If the business expands to the markets which using subunits makes a difference to the customers’ budget, such as U.S.customers, another variable to store both units and subunits must be added (i.e. dollars and cents).

GILT: Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, Translation

Globalization is the umbrella term that includes both internationalization and localization. It describes the processes undertaken by companies ambitious enough to try and succeed in developing and expanding its business globally. In a manner of speech, the world is the oyster to these companies business strategies.

Internationalization is a subordinate term of globalization, preceding localization. In fact, it is the process of designing products, services and internal marketing to enable and promote expansion into international markets.

Localization is another subordinate term of globalization, following the thorough process of internationalization. In other words, that practice involves the adaptation of a particular product or service to the local markets worldwide.

Translation is a correlated term to these three and can be both independent or closely connected with them.

In conclusion, what you have learnt is that you cannot “go global” in your business unless you plan these strategies meticulously. If you want to expand your company’s reach and influence, you need to do a good research and implement internationalization and localization. Relying on them may bring fame, quality recognition and, successively, a huge amount of profit to your company.

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