Internationalization vs Localization vs Globalizatio: Differences & Similarities

Companies looking to expand their business across national borders sometimes use the terms localization, globalization, and internationalization interchangeably. But in fact, they are not technically the same thing. How do they differ from one another? In this blog post, we will dive into the similarities and differences between internationalization vs globalization vs localization and discuss when to use each. No matter what activities your company plans to involve in, they are just as important and all aim to make your brand’s message resonates with global markets. Keep scrolling to know more.

Localization vs Internationalization vs Globalization

Localization, globalization, and internationalization are all processes that involve making content, products, or services available in foreign languages. They are strategies used to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers, aiming to create a more seamless and localized experience for multilingual users. 

Before delving into the differences between globalization and internationalization, we need to have a general understanding of what these terms stand for.

What is Globalization?

Shorted to g11n, globalization refers to the process of preparing products/services so that they resonate across the globe. Apart from linguistic and cultural adaptation, globalization also pays attention to differences in technical infrastructure, legal systems, and regulatory requirements. It takes a deep understanding of local markets and customs to globalize successfully. This process is very demanding because it involves significant investment in research, development, marketing, etc.

If you are still unsure about what globalization is, take a look at the following examples of globalization. 

Examples of Globalization

A US-based company like McDonald’s wants to expand its operations to other countries and establish a global presence. Through globalization, it can identify markets where its products/services would have significant profit potential. Globalized companies may partner with local suppliers or hire local employees who have a strong understanding of the local culture and business practices.

High-tech giants like IBM can utilize global supply chains to source materials and components from around the globe, allowing them to produce quality products at a lower cost and sell them at a competitive price. Globalized businesses may also leverage social media and digital platforms to promote their products globally, reaching a broader audience worldwide than ever before. 

Why Is Globalization Important?

One of the key benefits of globalization is the increased trade and economic growth associated with it. As a result of globalization, companies that embrace a globalization strategy can break into new markets, improve efficiency, and grow their business in unprecedented ways. Meanwhile, they are contributing to the global economy and creating job opportunities for people around the world.

Moreover, globalization has enhanced cultural diversity by breaking down language and cultural barriers between countries. People can now experience and learn from different traditions, customs, and practices other than their own, allowing diversity to thrive while also exposing people to new ideas, perspectives, and ways of life. 

As globalization continues to grow driven by technological advancement, businesses can compete to produce and improve their products and services to meet global demand. This has led to the advent of new industries and jobs, and an enhancement of the quality of life and productivity levels globally. 

Another important outcome of globalization is that more and more people will be lifted out of poverty, and access to education, and healthcare, improving for the betterment of societies.

Last but not least, globalization promotes international cooperation. This is increasingly significant in tackling the world’s most prominent problems, such as deforestation, pollution, and climate change, which calls for multilateral cooperation and collective action among countries around the world. 

What is Internationalization?

Internationalization (i18n) refers to the process of designing software, products, and content so that they are highly adaptable to the requirements of different languages and cultures. It involves the experience of the subject matter experts in separating the code/content from any specific language or cultural assumptions so that it can be easily translated or localized. 

Internationalization ensures that text strings, date formats, and other elements are separate from the core code, so they can be easily replaced for different languages or regions. Essentially, internationalization paves the way for localization.

Internationalization Examples

Many world-famous brands have reaped benefits from their successful internationalization strategies. Some of the big names include McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Nike, Disney, etc.

For example, in India, McDonald’s adapted its menu to suit the local population’s dietary requirements and preferences by offering vegetarian options.

Another famous example is Coca-Cola, a recognized beverage company that has effectively entered new markets through internationalization. Coca-cola adapts packaging sizes and flavors according to different requirements in markets across the globe. Coca-Cola has become one of the most recognized brands worldwide.

Nike is a well-known brand that has integrated internationalization into its corporate strategies. By collaborating with designers from local markets, Nike creates sneakers for their target audience, combining elements of traditional patterns and colors from that culture.

Amazon is also one of the many successful internationalization examples. Its website supports regional currencies and languages, recommends region-specific products, and integrates payment gateways popular in different countries.

What is Localization?

Localization usually comes after internationalization. 

Abbreviated as l10n, localization refers to the process of adapting a product/service to the linguistic and cultural requirements of a specific country or region. Localization generally includes translation of text-based and other content, but may also involve adjusting images, graphics, colors, sounds, and other culture-specific elements to better match local expectations. 

This process requires the collaboration of translators, cultural experts, and other specialists with a deep understanding of the target audience to guarantee the most optimal results that live up to the local audience’s expectations. The translation is merely the first step of localization. 

You can read more about the translation and localization services on our website or explore the key differences between localization and translation in our blog.  

Put simply, globalization develops products intended for use by people around the planet. Internationalization creates adaptable products that can be easily adjusted to different languages and cultures, laying the groundwork for future localization. Localization ensures that a product is linguistically and culturally adapted for a specific market.

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Summarizing Localization vs Globalization vs Internationalization

In conclusion, localization adapts content to meet the linguistic, cultural, and other needs of a specific market, globalization brings people, companies, and countries around the world closer to one another, and internationalization adjusts products or services to meet the preferences and requirements of local customers. All three processes are important for companies looking to succeed in today’s global economy and require careful planning and execution.

Despite the difference between localization, globalization and internationalization, they all aim to expand a company’s reach into new markets, with each requiring careful planning and execution. Companies seeking international success must navigate the complexities of each strategy and make adaptations accordingly. 

Wordspath can help

Wordspath provides many cost-effective language localization services and multimedia solutions such as transcription, subtitling, and voiceover services, with guaranteed accuracy and at scale. 

We take pride in our quality-driven workflow that combines the excellent work of our linguists, desktop publishers, project managers, customer service, and technical team. Their endless support allows Wordspath to provide first-rate language solutions in 150+ languages for thousands of customers who need to connect with the world.

Wordspath also offers machine translation post-editing services translating the content with our proprietary MT engine and having our in-house/contracted linguists review,  edit, polish, and proofread the results.

Meanwhile, we are highly experienced in delivering tailor-made localization-related solutions such as desktop publishing, transcription, subtitling, and voiceover. Our ability to quickly handle a wide range of content types between nearly all language combinations sets us apart from our competitors. Should you need to consult on your best-fit language solution, you can contact us through live chat or email to Or simply request a free quote.

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