Localization, internationalization and globalization all sound like very similar concepts and are often used interchangeably. However, there are subtle differences that set them apart. Being able to understand these differences will be beneficial for any business owners out there who are looking to improve their global growth strategy.
The acronym GILT, which stands for Globalization, Internationalization, Localization and Translation has gained a fair amount of attention over the past few years and is now widely regarded as part of the key terminology of the language services industry. Each of these terms refer to the steps that a company needs to take into consideration when it comes to international expansion.
Of these terms, “translation” is the one most people are familiar with, and it refers to the process of converting text from one language to another to make it more accessible for those who are unable to understand certain foreign languages.
Often appearing under the numeronym “g11n”, globalization refers to the process and strategy of preparing your business to reach new customers around the world. In the translation and localization industry, this might involve adapting services and products to global, foreign markets through linguistic, cultural and stylistic adaptations.
Abbreviated as “i18n”, internationalization involves making your products as adaptable as possible so that they can easily be accepted in an international market. This process aims to create a culturally neutral product so that regardless of where you are in the world, you will still be able to properly connect with it. During the design and development stages, linguistic, cultural and regional factors should be taken into account.
This refers to the process of adapting your product or service for a specific target market, and often happens after internationalization has taken place. It’s also one of the most used hashtags within the translation and localization industry, abbreviated as “l10n”. It can involve the linguistic and stylistic adaptation of content for the target audience, ranging from language and cultural particularities so that it matches the expectations of locals.
It’s important to note that each of these steps play a key part in any international expansion strategy, and build upon each other.
If we think about it as a pyramid, globalization is the broad, overarching strategy that is adopted by a company to bring its brand and services to the world. It opens up more opportunities for companies to expand into foreign markets.
Internationalization is the next level up and requires a level of creativity and in-depth knowledge regarding the target market. At the top of the pyramid is localization. It goes beyond merely translating a text, and it makes consumers feel that your product or service has been designed and developed with their needs in mind.