Localization can be the key to international success. By localizing your product and marketing material you’ll be able to reach all the potential customers in foreign markets. Sounds like a sure way to success…or not. If it was that easy, every company would be doing that. Localization won’t solve all the problems and guarantee an instant international success.
Language is important but it isn’t the most important thing to the user. It won’t make people to want to own your product or service. The foundations for success are built from the beginning before any kind of localization action. Localization can’t save the situation if the basis is weak. People value the benefits that using your product or service brings to them. That value is far more crucial than having a perfectly localized text.
All this discussion leads to the main question of every translation and localization projects: Who is the customer? Once you know the audience you’ll also know what they need and expect. Today many people can speak more than one language and understand your message even if you don’t use their mother tongue. Thus localization doesn’t always bring additional value to the users.
In some cases, if someone is used to work with the original version, a localized version might even confuse the user. The language loses its meaning when people have learned to use the product or service in other language. The longer the time on the market without any localization efforts the more carefully you should think how the already existing customer base would feel about the localized version.
This task usually requires local help. Anyone outside the target group won’t be able to know exactly what kind of message works for the people in the group. To be successful, the message should be not only understood but adopted as well. The language represents certain values and image as well. The local language can change the feeling. Depending on the audience, these small nuances could make a huge difference.
There are cases when localization alienated the old customer base. Every company should carefully consider whether they can afford to sacrifice the old customers for the sake of potential new customers. The outcome might be worse than the starting point because even localized products and services won’t sell just like that. Marketing, sales and other efforts are still needed in order to achieve success in any market. Low sales won’t necessary skyrocket just because of the localization efforts.
As a conclusion, all problems or obstacles aren’t language related and thus localization isn’t the answer to all situations. However, when you recognize the cases when language is preventing the success, localization could be beneficial to your business.
Ease your software localization projects. If language is preventing your software to gain the widest possible audience, you should try to localize your software. Learn more about software localization.