“My interest in learning different languages and immersing myself in new cultures stems from my upbringing in a multicultural, multilingual home,” shares NJI Senior Project Manager Isabelle Gomis. “As the daughter of immigrants, I’ve spent most of my adult life living abroad, primarily in English- and Spanish-speaking countries.” Gomis is constantly learning about new cultures and traditions. As a manager of a large portfolio of global brands, localization is at the core of what she does. Her experiences have shaped her personally and professionally, improving her understanding of clients’ needs.
Localization vs. Translation
“Localization” and “translation” are often used interchangeably, but it’s a misconception that they mean the same thing. The process of translating text from one language to another is only one aspect of localization — its full scope of communication extends far beyond words alone.
Localization builds connections and empathy with cultures other than our own. In the world of marketing, that means creating a tailored experience for specific locations or markets expressed through graphics, layouts, imagery, colors, and other artistic elements aligned with those locations and communities.
Why Is Localization Important?
Over the past few decades, international business has skyrocketed, and transnational corporations (TNCs) have expanded outside their home markets. The adaptation of products and content has played a strategic role in helping TNCs enter new markets and remain relevant across geographic borders.
Localization In Practice
Local expertise is the difference between stiff, textbook-style translation and nuanced, familiar content that audiences are receptive to engaging with. Consider India, there are vast and vibrant differences between the written and spoken languages, as well as the local customs across the country of 1.4+ billion people. Deep knowledge of the country and variances between the northern vs. southern regions is extremely important.
We are transparent that collaboration with local experts is what makes our design truly scalable on a global level. Building on our own deep bench of global design and strategy expertise, we can refine a single design to work just as effectively in Indonesia as in Belgium, Ghana, or central Brazil. NJI collaborates with renowned, insight-driven localization agencies, like Freedman, to deliver innumerable projects on behalf of our clients and communicate with stakeholders spread across hundreds of markets and dialects.
There are four key elements we focus on when designing a website or a piece of collateral to help global brands increase their reach.
- Market culture: Although languages may be shared across borders, cultural sensitivities will vary from one country to another. Latin America, for instance, includes 20 Spanish-speaking countries, yet the cultures of Mexico and Argentina vary significantly.
- Color palette: Visual associations are powerful. The way that people view and understand colors can differ based on their countries, languages, or religions.
- Imagery: It is critical to understand the emotions and thoughts that a specific image might evoke. A photo may be perfectly acceptable in one market and be perceived as unrelatable — or even offensive — in another.
- Layout: Flexible design layouts help to ensure they will work with diverse writing systems and character counts. Many Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic, use right-to-left reading, for example. Romance languages, such as French and Spanish, tend to use more characters than Germanic languages.
Looking Ahead: From Localization to Cosmolocalization
Since the emergence of the metaverse, extended reality technologies have been at the center of many conversations. As TNCs seek new opportunities in the metaverse to communicate effectively with virtual audiences dispersed throughout the world, the demand for localization is expected to increase. The idea of “cosmolocalization,” which entails a blend of technology, political science, philosophy and economics, is steadily gaining momentum in both physical and virtual settings. Learn more about other metaverse trends on our radar.