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Why localisation goes wrong (Part 1)

There are many reasons why localisation goes wrong. Let's start from the beginning and get right to the point.

Localisation problem #1: Stakeholders lack a common understanding of what localisation means for the company.

When localisation becomes a challenge, it usually indicates process flaws and a positioning issue. Stakeholders without "localisation" in their job title often see it as a complex and challenging process that falls short of expectations.

But shouldn't localisation be that amazing thing that brings value to customers and even sets the company apart from the competition? It should. And it can, if you can articulate how localisation at your company does it exactly in a language that everyone can understand.

There aren't many examples of this online, but SAP is one. The video on the web page dedicated to their localisation capabilities explains what localisation means in the context of SAP's solutions and how it adds value to international businesses. (Do note that for SAP localisation has nothing to do with translation.)

Your company might not need a website to explain what you mean by localisation, and your customers probably shouldn't know about it. But your localisation stakeholders must have clarity about what localisation is and what it does.

What happens if they don't?

Without a shared vision, different teams will expect localisation to deliver different (and sometimes opposing) outcomes.

  • For some members of your product team, localisation could mean the capability to translate copy while preserving a consistent tone.

  • Other product managers would say that it's adaptation of a product to meet the language, cultural, and other requirements of a specific target market.

  • Your brand team might say that localisation helps build a glocal brand that inspires emotional connection.

  • For your marketing team, localisation could be a process that, unlike translation, makes the text easy to understand and sound natural to the reader.

In this situation, which is a real-life example from my experience, what is localisation for the company? What does it do? For whom?

Once you have these answers, the next challenge is to figure out how localisation will deliver on your expectations.

In the meantime, if you need help with aligning your company, teams, or colleagues on what localisation should do for you and how, let's connect.

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