All localization projects are handled to and from the Scandinavian languages, English and German (see list below). However, the network stretches much further and can accommodate other language pairs as well.
Whereas the translation services focus on capturing the message of the source text, the localization services aim to adapt the message to ensure it complies to local cultural sensitivities and nuances, expressions and habits needed to be effective in reaching the target group.
There are several aspects involved in localization, like adaptation of currencies, dates, punctuation, addresses, etc. or a term's connotation in a different market or culture. Some examples are provided below:
- What is correct when writing time? 5 p.m. or 17.00? (Answer: both are correct, but in different markets)
- What is correct punctuation? 1,000.00 or 1.000,00? (Answer: both are correct, but in different markets)
- The telecom provider Orange ran a very successful ad campaign in 1994 which read: "The future is bright...the future is Orange". However, when executing the campaign in Northern Ireland, Orange ran into a snag. The term Orange gives associations to the Orange Order and thus the message implied that "the future is bright, the future is Protestant, loyalist"... which didn't sit well with the Catholic Irish population.
- A classic revolves around a US pharmaceutical company desiring to sell their painkillers on the Chinese market. To avoid language issues they created an ad campaign based on a cartoon. The cartoon had four frames with a person feeling very bad, getting the pill, taking the pill and then feeling very good. Not a bad a idea, actually very creative, however, the cartoon read from left to right, whereas in China they read from right to left...
In other words, without such adaptations a text can be hard to understand for your customers or clients in other markets. In some cases, a lack of adaptation can even result in the reader feeling embarrassed, insulted or worse - disgusted, although this was not the intention.