Localization is very similar to translation, but it is important to know the difference. Localization is translation plus adaptation. This means that the product or service is translated into the target language and customized to better fit the culture and preferences of a specific market.
For instance, If you were running an ad campaign that featured a top athlete, you may want to use a different athlete for each country. You can use a football player for the US, a baseball player from the Dominican Republic for that locale, and the soccer player Messi for Argentina.
If the market isn’t very familiar with the person featured, they won’t have very much interest in the advertised product. Most of the US would be more drawn out to Tom Brady or Peyton Manning from the NFL than to the star soccer player Christian Renaldo.
Localization covers a variety of areas–just about anything that could impact the targeted culture and market. This includes colors, foods, symbols, measurements, images, opinions, values, etc. For example, if you are selling a product intended for Japan, then calculating and placing the exchange rate from US dollars to Yen on your website would be a wise decision.
Here are some specific examples of localization with regards to International e-Learning classes, as shared by Adam Wooten in the Deseret News. Additionally, learn about Japan’s culture and video game localization here. Localization’s potential impact is evident in these and countless other examples.
In summary, if your product is translated but not localized, it may not get a warm welcoming. When requesting a translation, be sure to think about whether proper localization is necessary as well.