The Biggest Challenges of Localization and How To Overcome Them

Wrangle some of the biggest challenges in localization with proper communication, planning and research.


“Preparation is the key to success,” said Alexander Graham Bell.

Before launching a localization-centered project, it is wise to be aware of some of the inherent challenges you may face in an effort to prepare your team in the most effective ways possible.

As with any new venture, there are always inevitable obstacles. But Smarling’s Translation Management System is here to address them and help you solve these speed bumps before you go too off course.

Frequent Challenges in Localization

We’ve compiled a few challenges you may come across during your localization efforts - read and reach out if you have any questions specific to your launch - we would love to help!

1. Communication 🗣️

As with many other facets of life, communication ranks as the number one obstacle that could potentially interfere with thekicking off a successful of a project.

Assembling a larger team to tackle a larger task like localization opens you up to the possibility of communication issues. These can range from clarity of timelines to details of vendors.

Ensure you and your colleagues are organized - be it through remotely accessible tools or a platform that has all your needs in one place, like Smartling.

  • Provide briefing documents - Set up your team for success by laying the groundwork with style guides, language assets, glossaries and a Translation Memory Database.
  • Encourage open communication - Assure your entire team ideas and questions are welcome and give everyone a means of direct communication. It will lessen confusing emails and allow you to streamline efforts.
  • Provide detailed and actionable feedback - Localization can be a bear to wrangle. If something in your plan requires specific attention to detail, make sure you have first provided your team with briefing documents and then give simple directions for easier follow through.

2. Cultural Nuance 👌

Appealing to a section of a new demographic requires attention to detail.

If you’ve ever traveled abroad to a country like Japan or Italy you have probably picked up on cultural subtleties that could land you in hot water.

Cultural faux pas could be anything from a hand gesture, choice of clothing or the use/abuse of a specific term or flag.

  • Know the lay of the cultural land by conducting research and handling content with sensitivity.
  • Educate your team on the ways your new market views business, what their triggers could be and definitely hire translators who are experienced.
  • Be mindful of others’ culture to help lessen the chances of offending an entirely new market.
  • Learn how your business is different from what your audience knows and lean into the ways you can bring them closer!

Should you want to share content with an accompanying visual of a hand making the “OK” gesture, audiences in Russia, Germany and Brazil will read that as something entirely different, and even risqué.

Yet in Japan, it will be taken as a symbol for money. Be clear and thorough with your research!

3. Translation Errors 🤐

That’s it. That’s the whole tweet.

If you have a mistake in your localization project, it can throw off all your hard work and sink your reputation.

Worst yet, you could get it wrong, throw off all your hard work and really offend a totally new audience.

To avoid these pitfalls, be sure to hire language professionals who have background and experience in the languages and dialects you are looking to fold into your messaging.

We think this is so critical that all of Smartling’s professional translators are native speakers and generally live within the region they are translating for. This enables them to act as a cultural liaison, providing your brand with valuable insight into the demographic you’re targeting. It may cost more, but it will save you in the end!

  • Assemble a team comprised of top tier translators who understand your scope.
  • Smartling takes great pride in our vast pool of experienced translators who live all over the world. Quality translators can bring your brand to life in an entirely new way.
  • Have a few eyes on a project before it goes live. Fresh perspectives, viewpoints and backgrounds can only improve the quality and accuracy of your copy which keeps your cost and necessary edits down.

The final word

A business needs to do a lot of foundational work before launching internationally. Many blindspots do exist in localization, but if you have a solid team, a game plan and good communication you are setting yourself up for a hit!

If you would like to learn more about Smarling, drop us a line! If you have a specific question about localization, email us and we will be in touch to answer your questions. Set up a demo here!