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  • Foto del escritorMaría Palomares Tarí


Often at the start of any Translation journey, businesses are faced with a choice of several types of approaches: Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, or Translation. However, which one is most applicable to your specific situation and what are the differences between them?

While they all sound like similar concepts, subtle distinctions set them apart. If your company is aimed to ensure its brand message resonates globally, understanding these differences could be key to set it up for success.

Researchers created the acronym GILT (globalization, internationalization, localization and translation) to refer to the activities that businesses engage in when they expand beyond national borders, and its widely regarded as part of the key terminology of the language sector when it comes to international expansion.

Of these terms, "translation," which refers to the process of converting text from one language to another, is the most readily understood. But let’s have a look at what distinguishes the other three.

What is Globalization?

Globalization refers to any activity that brings the people, cultures and economies of different countries closer together. In business, it refers to practices by which organizations become better connected to their customers around the world.

Take a closer look at these two examples:


Through globalization, McDonald's went from being a local fast-food restaurant in the US to a global sensation in the fast-food industry — it is indeed, the most prominent representation and symbol of globalization. It signifies some of the American local cultures in more than 120 countries and performs required adjustments to meet the interest of the local people in the area (e.g., the McDonald's menu in Japan includes a teriyaki burger!)


The globally recognizable brand Ikea takes also the time to understand its international audiences: although they often retain the same elements, room sets will also vary from store to store to suit local customs. For example, in Japan, they will often feature tatami mats, a traditional Japanese floor covering.

Globalization includes any aspect of operating in different national markets, from product design to marketing, and it has actually come hand-in-hand with the most transformational advances of the 20th century, such as international air travel and the Internet.

But as you may also notice in the above examples, two of the most important steps in this process are to localize and internationalize your product, that means that both localization and internationalization fall under the banner of globalization.

What is Internationalization?

Internationalization (also known as i18n) is a corporate strategy that involves making products and services as adaptable as possible, so they can easily enter different national markets. In general, any product intended for use by consumers across multiple languages will undergo the internationalization process.

What is Localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a product to a specific target market. This usually happens after internationalization has taken place. Where internationalization develops a product that’s easy to adapt for many audiences in many different countries, localization takes that product and makes it highly relevant for one specific market.

How to put it all together:

  1. McDonald’s has more than 30,000 franchises in more than 120 countries. Its worldwide expansion is an example of globalization.

  2. By design, the corporation creates a menu adaptable to various local tastes and customs. This strategy is an example of internationalization.

  3. McDonald's opened a meat-free restaurant in India (a country in which much of the population does not eat beef or pork). Besides, many of the McDonald's restaurants in Israel serve kosher food and drink and close during the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. In both cases, McDonald's has maintained its global brand identity but tailored its products and services for local markets. These cases exemplify localization.

Considering expanding overseas? Reach out to our experts at YOKO and set your business out for success!


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