Glocalization vs. Globalization

May 31st, 2014
Glocalization vs. Globalization   | One Hour Translation

The new term in global business is Glocalization – a silly name for a very smart idea.

I must admit to you: I sometimes wake up in the morning with zero desire to market myself and my business. I know! Shocking. It happens to the best of us. Part of it is the endless effort of it, because no matter how well I promote my translation services business, I wake up the next day still needed to promote it. The world keeps moving the goalposts, in a sense, and you never hit that magic moment of having ‘enough’ business. Every new client seems to mean one old one leaves, and every new project that promises tons of work also means you have to turn down two projects and see them go to a competitor.

Plus, sometimes I weary of the endless ‘think pieces’ about self-promotion and running a business. It’s as rampant in my industry as anywhere else. The most recent thing I’ve read that made me feel exhausted concerned the use of the term ‘Glocalization’ (pronounced, apparently, ‘Gee-localization’). This term is a replacement for the more generic (and correct) ‘Globalization’ because the latter, apparently, makes people think of corporations pursuing top-down policies in order to break into and dominate foreign markets. The new term supposedly represents a ‘bottom-up’ approach that starts off with local market needs.

Are you as tired as I am reading that? Ah, but there’s something to it, silly name aside.

Top-Down Problems

No one’s more aware of the ongoing trend of globalization than someone working in the language translation business. We’re the ones who get called on to translate advertising tag lines, brochures, and other materials for businesses seeking to sell their wares in our local markets, and let me tell you: We know all about top-down thinking.

Top-down is when a company has a product they wish to sell in the foreign market, and they simply hire us to translate everything and throw it into the market more or less as-is, with just a gloss of local colour to make it look good. Many huge corporations with infinite resources make this error, and we in the translation business can tell them right away their approach won’t work. Not that anyone listens to us – and not that we turn down the work, either!

Glocalization’s Benefits

On the other hand, a ‘bottom-up’ approach is almost always more effective. If you start with the culture and language you’re trying to sell to, and design everything around that, you get an effective advertising, promotional, or marketing campaign that resonates. This means allowing the culture to shape your ideas, not the other way around – because your ideas will never have the heft and power of a culture that’s evolved over the course of centuries.

The name is a bit silly, but the concepts behind Glocalization aren’t, and should be adopted and embraced by any business seeking to ‘go global.’

Image courtesy blog.movvit.com