7 Localization Myths to Avoid for Global Market Success


In today's ever-connected world, businesses have a unique opportunity to explore new markets beyond their borders. However, recent global events have made companies hesitant to take the leap. Despite these challenges, expanding into foreign markets can lead to growth and success with the right approach in place. One crucial factor in this endeavor is localization, the process of adapting a product or service to the cultural and linguistic specifics of a local market. But to do it right, make sure you're not falling for these common localization myths that could cost you time, money, and customers.

To help you navigate this process effectively, we'll debunk 7 common localization myths in this article. Whether you're providing web-based software, cloud-based services, or digital products, these tips will help you avoid mistakes and expand more effectively in international markets. So, let's dive in and set the record straight!

What are the business benefits of localization?

A good fit between your product and your target markets can boost the benefits of your international expansion. Localization isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s essential for global success. It helps you:

  • Gain a competitive advantage: To penetrate deeper into the market, highly localized products and services that suit your local customers allow you to differentiate from your global competitors. 

  • Increase revenue: By localizing the overall user experience, you can enhance product adoption and engagement. Take an online shop. It’s more likely that international users will purchase if they see payment methods and currencies they are familiar with.

  • Reduce business risk: People in a local market might be confused or even perceive a brand as not reliable because its message doesn’t fit their language or cultural beliefs. Localization allows you to avoid polemic or bad publicity that would harm your global brand reputation. For example, a slogan or tagline that is perfectly acceptable in one language might be offensive or meaningless in another language. By localizing your message, you can avoid causing offense or confusion.

Common localization myths that can harm your global expansion strategy

Before tackling localization, let's explore 7 common localization myths that can harm your global expansion strategy.

1. Localization is the same as translation

Translation and localization are often confused to be the same. While translation is an important part of localization, it’s only one aspect of the process. Localization involves adapting your product or service to the linguistic and cultural specifics of a local market. This includes everything from user interface design to payment methods, content creation, and marketing strategies. By going beyond translation and taking a holistic approach to localization, you can create a truly localized product that resonates with your target audience.

2. English-speaking brands don’t need localization

According to CSA research, 40% of consumers wouldn’t buy online in other languages than their own. Given that around 75% of the world’s population doesn’t speak English, brands cannot expect to reach their full global potential if their product is only available in English. Localization is key to effectively communicate with potential customers in their native language and cultural context.

3. Localization is for established companies only

It might be easy to think that there are more urgent steps to take than going global, such as building a product that domestic users love. However, the reality is that localization can help startups gain early brand awareness and outpace the competition. By localizing from the start, you can create a more effective go-to-market strategy and stand out from the crowd.

4. Using spreadsheets to localize is sufficient

One of the localization myths that can result in a tedious localization process is that managing translations on spreadsheets works. What you can expect with this approach is poor translation quality and an increased time to market. While investing in localization software can be helpful, it should not be relied on as a standalone solution. It can automate some aspects of the localization process and make it easier to manage updates and changes across different languages, but it cannot replace the expertise and experience of professional linguists. To ensure high-quality localization that resonates with your target audience, it's important to work with a team of experts who can provide a range of localization services tailored to your specific needs.

5. Machine translation is the most cost-effective solution

Machine translation can be a very useful tool for some aspects of localization and can provide quick translations for certain content. However, raw machine translation oftentimes cannot take into account the linguistic and cultural nuances of the target market, which can result in localization mistakes and errors in your localized landing pages and newsletters. A combination of machine translation and human post-editing, performed by professional translators and editors who understand the nuances of the target market, can provide high-quality localization that resonates with your audience.

6. Bilingual employees always provide quality translation

Asking native speakers from your organization to localize seems like a convenient and cost-effective solution. After all, your employees have specific brand knowledge. However, anyone who knows a second language can’t perform translation tasks. Translation is a complex process that requires a deep understanding of both the source and target languages, as well as cultural nuances and localization best practices. Therefore, it’s always best to rely on professional linguists with years of experience and expertise in the field.

7. Localization always comes after product development

It might be easy to see localization as an afterthought. However, this approach can lead to additional costs, delays, and technical challenges, particularly when entering new markets. Successful localization requires internationalization planning from the outset, which makes the process smoother, more efficient, and cost-effective down the line. This can help you improve your product quality, reduce time to market, and scale more easily.

Why does finding the right localization partner matter?

Selecting a suitable partner is crucial for successful localization that will align with your business objectives. An LSP that understands your specific needs, industry, and target markets can help you avoid potential pitfalls and streamline the localization process. While larger agencies may have experience managing complex projects, smaller LSPs can provide more flexibility, agility, and a personalized approach. Partnering with a well-aligned LSP can ultimately lead to a successful market entry and expansion.

Do these myths sound like something you've heard before?

If you have fallen for any of these myths, it's important to reassess your approach. These misconceptions can lead to increased costs and potentially damage your brand reputation in global markets.

As we saw, when it comes to localization, finding the right approach is key. At Language Inspired, we offer one-stop localization services to quickly get your product on the market without the hassle. Our flexible approach allows us to work together with you to optimize the workflow, ensuring high-quality localization that meets your specific needs. We specialize in providing localization services for SaaS and tech companies and have extensive experience working with companies of all sizes. Get in touch to see what the best model could be.

On the 19.04.2023. SIA “Language Inspired” has signed an agreement Nr. SKV-L2023/208 with Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) within the project “International competitiveness promotion”, which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

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