Brands looking to adapt their content to a new language will generally have two options: translation or localisation. While these are similar, as they both try to adapt the brand’s messages to a new language to reach a new audience, translation and localisation are in fact two different processes. Translation is a type of localisation, just as football is a type of sport. However, like sports, localisation is a broad category covering many different ways to make content effective for a new international audience.
Translation is the starting point
To put it simply, translation converts written words from one language to another. Localisation employs multiple techniques to adapt the full meaning of the content to the new culture.
When content is translated literally, it may or may not make sense in the target market. Localisation analyses the true message of the content and then finds the best way to say: “Choose us”.
Localisation involves images
Localisation also involves adapting the image, so design fit is another localisation technique. English is read from left to right, but Arabic, Hebrew and other languages are read from right to left. This means switchingyour ad layout so that the copy, images, and other elements read in the right direction.
The size and font may also need to be changed so that languages that use non-roman script can be read clearly. Even when content is translated into a language using the same alphabet as English, the layout often needs adjustment. The romance languages, such as Spanish and French, need 30% more words than English to express a similar phrase.
Finnish needs 30-40% fewer words. The translation changes the language, but the localisation of the design ensures that the copy looks good.
Tools like visual context allow brands to ensure that the format and layout can be adjusted correctly to reflect the right translations.
Translation is only one aspect of localisation
Then there is everything else: Is the price in the right currency? Are the dates formatted correctly? How is the size of the product measured in the country the company is targeting? These areas are also part of the broader localisation work.
The translation simply entails the conversion of the words of a text from one language to another, maintaining the meaning and concepts. Localisation, on the other hand, implies an even greater adaptation to reflect the culture of the target audience. Localised content feels more familiar and local.
With fully localised content, brands can ensure that their experiences resonate with the users, even if they speak a completely different language. So, do you need professional translation or localisation services?