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Localizing your Business: A User’s Guide

Picture this: a family buys a dark brown couch, chair, and loveseat from a furniture store in Toronto. On the day the new furniture is delivered to their Brampton, Ontario home, the couple’s curious seven-year-old daughter begins to carefully examine the new arrivals. A few moments later, she innocently asks her mother, “What does ‘Nigger-Brown’ mean?” Astonished, this mother turns to her daughter who is pointing to the packing labels attached to the furniture. In place of a more appropriate term, the colour description on the label is a racial slur completely unacceptable in Canadian society.

How could such a mistake happen in the first place, let alone be overlooked by the furniture manufacturer in China, the supplier in Scarborough, and the store that sold the furniture in Toronto? It was soon discovered that a software company in China was responsible. They said that an older version (no longer in use) of their Chinese-English translation software provided the racist term.

This true story, along with many other recent examples, underscores the need for cultural sensitivity and awareness when selling products or services to international markets. In order to provide the necessary information so that companies can effectively address this pressing need, wintranslation has produced “Localizing your Business: A User’s Guide,” a free White Paper available for download at

In a world where every day more people who speak a language other than English are gaining Internet access, localization is one of the most underutilized methods you could begin using to increase sales, attract new customers, enter untapped markets, and improve your business’ reputation. Localization is the process of producing or adapting your company’s software, documents, marketing materials, and websites for the particular cultural and linguistic needs of the target market you desire to enter.

Why is Localization so Important?

Localization is one of the most important components of successfully taking your products and services into international markets. As of June 30, 2010, it is estimated that there are 1,966,514,816 Internet users worldwide. Of these, there are over one billion people on the Internet who view online content in a language other than English because English is not their native language.  Therefore, if you want to increase sales, as well as your influence and reputation in both the domestic and international markets, then localization is no longer a suggestion, but a necessity.

In order to reach the millions of potential customers you would otherwise be unable to effectively communicate with if you continue to provide all your business information in English, it is imperative that you localize all of your documents, marketing materials, and websites. Translation and localization will also allow you to reach people in your domestic market whose first language is not English, such as the almost 30 million people in the United States whose native language is Spanish.

It is also important to stress that people are much more likely to buy products or services from your company when you provide information in their native language. If people can’t understand what you are selling, how you are different from your competitors, or if they get frustrated because they can’t find what they are looking for on your website, then they will not buy from you. It is just that simple. Feeling frustrated or alienated because they perceive that your company does not care about their unique needs will have potential customers quickly leaving your website and refusing to buy your product or service. On the other hand, localization of your software applications, documents, and websites into the top 10 languages on the Internet will allow you to reach over 80% of the world’s almost two billion Internet users.

Benefits of Localization

Localization will keep you from making embarrassing mistakes that have the potential to alienate or offend potential customers, mistakes that many major companies have made because they failed to consider the unique cultural and linguistic needs of their target market. However, if you are willing to make the initial time and cost investment in localizing your websites and marketing materials for the target markets you desire to enter, your business will benefit in ways you never could have imagined. Some of the major benefits discussed in wintranslation’s new White Paper include the following:

  • New Business Opportunities in Domestic and International Markets.
  • Increased Sales.
  • Decreased Operational Costs.
  • Build Relationships with New Clients.
  • Improved Image and Reputation of your Business.
  • Increased Online Visibility and Web Traffic.
  • More Effective Advertising and Marketing.

If you would like to learn more about localization and the many benefits this process holds for your company, please go to to download a free copy of our White Paper “Localizing your Business: A User’s Guide.

Felicia Bratu is the operations manager of wintranslation, in charge of quality delivery and client satisfaction. As a veteran who has worked in many roles at the company since 2003, Felicia oversees almost every aspect of the company operations from recruitment to project management to localization engineering. She recently received certification as a Localization Project Manager as well as Post-Editing Certification for Machine Translation. Felicia holds a BSc. in Industrial Robotics from the University of Craiova, Romania.

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