Localization. You know the term, right? In our parlance, it means taking some piece of communication, created in some central location (usually a big market) and doing something to it to make it understandable, palatable and motivating to the locale where it runs. Often, localization comes localized, i.e., we get a choice of photos, pre-translated texts and a menu of headlines and offers.

“All relationships are local,” right? Does it ever get better than this? Isn’t this the ultimate proof of global networks and their power?

Or is it?

How about when you are charged with localization in Japan and the creators at central use one “Asian” face to portray the entire region.

Or in Germany, and you have an offer that gives you free service and the global provider insists on using the word free, which has a different meaning than merely getting something without the exchange of currency but refers to freedom and politics.

Perhaps Russia and the instructions require you to use development tool unavailable in the market.

You get the picture.

For us, “all relationships are local” must mean just that.

We need to balance the need for global platform with the need for local insight, intelligence and the understanding and respect for budget and ROI.

We need to understand when to deviate from a plan because it really doesn’t work versus when it is because of “Not Invented Here Syndrome.” Sometimes there is a fine line of distinction. Sometimes there is not.

Localization is not a political term from some vision of a utopian world or homogenous community.

Localization needs to celebrate and deliver on those factors that make us different while leveraging those that connect us.

If not, here is the risk:

In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.
Mark Twain

The choice: wonder why those idiots never understand our language (whatever language it might be) or take up the gauntlet and understand that it doesn’t make a difference if they understand you as long as they understand each other….

Plus, we can always try and understand them….

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