Localisation means adapting text to a specific country or population. In a global economy, it is the most effective way to reach customers in different countries and to ensure that a marketing message holds true in different languages, or even in countries that share the same language but have cultural and historical differences. Localisation may mean changing the spelling of words to align the text with the particular version of a language used in the country, for example, adapting a document from US English to British English. It may mean changing certain words to make the text appear more local, such as changing the word ‘rubbish’, which is commonly used in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand to ‘garbage’, the preferred word in North America.
Localisation can also have a broader purpose, to recreate a message, a slogan or a joke in a way that maintains the original meaning but clothes it in language that is more familiar to the target population. As an example, consider the Zhiguli, a car brand manufactured in the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s. When the cars were exported to Europe, the name was changed to Lada, to make it easier to pronounce but also to avoid it sounding too close to the French and English word ‘gigolo’, with its negative connotations. In this case, a direct translation of the name was not sufficient as the product would not have been favourably received in the target countries.