by Maria Rotger


Marketing translation services

The increasing globalization of today’s world accentuates the need for reliable marketing translation services.

Spread the essence of your advertising messages and internationalize your projects and ideas.

Academic translation service

Localize your message, consider regional differences and deeply understand the target culture.

Basic points to keep in mind when localizing your marketing campaign.

1. Avoid literal translations

Translating word-for-word rarely captures the true essence of your message.

At its worst, it can make for some pretty funny (or tragic, depending on your perspective) blunders.

Braniff Airlines’ slogan, «Fly in Leather,» intended to highlight its airplanes’ leather seats and thus appeal to first-class customers:

  • They translated it too literally in Mexico, humorously yielding the translation «Fly Naked.»
  • While the translation was accurate word-for-word, it was semantically inaccurate and failed to capture the intended message.
  • Apparently, not many of their first-class customers wanted to fly naked because the airline eventually went out of business.

2. Consider regional linguistic differences

Most English speakers would agree that there is often a world of difference between:

  • American English
  • British English
  • Irish English
  • Australian English

An American jeans manufacturer would not be able to market its products as «pants» in the UK.

The meaning of some terms is different in each country.

Just as English is not the same in all parts of the world, other languages vary slightly (or not so slightly) by region, too.

Words can have different meanings as well as connotations.

In the 1970s, American Motors named its new car «Matador.» The idea was playing off of the undertones of strength and courage attached to the word for some people in some Spanish-speaking countries:

  • However, when they tried to market their new car in Puerto Rico under that name, the locals interpreted the term as «killer.»
  • Without the positive connotations associated with that word in other countries, the name didn’t instill enough confidence in potential Puerto Rican customers.
  • No one wanted to drive some «killer» on the road, which is already dangerous enough in every country.

Spain’s Spanish or other countries is not the same as Puerto Rico’s or other countries’ Spanish. The same goes for every other language out there.

Regional differences can make a significant impact when used correctly.

Academic translations

3. Be acquainted with the target culture

To produce a successful marketing campaign that is relevant to a specific group, you need to be deeply familiar with the traditions and cultural backgrounds of your target audience, although this might sound excessive.

When Proctor & Gamble began selling diapers in Japan, they were confused to find that sales were meager:

  • Finally, research revealed that the packaging featuring a picture of a stork delivering a baby was the problem.
  • In Japanese folklore, giant peaches deliver babies, not storks.

  • The image of the stork meant nothing to the Japanese parents who were buying diapers and only left them scratching their heads in confusion.

While this may seem minor, any marketing expert knows how important packaging is.

On a subconscious level, the prospects will not be amenable to buying a product if they don’t connect psychologically with it.

A lack of knowledge regarding cultural values can also make your marketing campaign flop.

When Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in Southeast Asia by highlighting its teeth-whitening power, they were shocked to find out that people in this part of the world try to darken their teeth by chewing betel nuts, a sign of status.

As this blunder reveals, beauty standards, as well as all other social standards, are subjective and culturally defined.

It is essential to understand what that collective values and what is in demand to market to a particular audience.

4. Entender lo que es ofensivo para una región

Obviously, the last thing you want to do is offend your target market.

Unfortunately, it can be quite easy to do just that if you don’t know what locals consider offensive or if you’re not predicting how they might perceive a message.

For example, when Pepsi entered the Chinese market its slogan, «Pepsi Brings You Back to Life,» it was incorrectly translated as «Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave:»

  • This translation was particularly unfortunate, considering how vital reverence for ancestors is in Chinese culture.
  • Similarly, a Tesco store in England marketed its supply of bacon-flavored Pringles potato chips with the phrase «Ramadan Mubarak» («have a blessed Ramadan»).
  • Not taking into consideration that pork products are strictly off-limits to Muslims and that Ramadan is a period of fasting.
  • Not surprisingly, people didn’t perceive tempting customers with forbidden food to be the most sensible marketing technique.
  • The fact that the store location was near one of the most prominent mosques in the area compounded this faux.

  • Tesco apologized in response to complaints, but the damage was there.

As these examples demonstrate, a lack of cultural awareness can lead to some embarrassing mistakes with dire consequences.

Qualified marketing translators

To optimize your marketing efforts in other regions, you need to hire qualified translators who are deeply knowledgeable about both:

  • the source and target languages
  • their respective cultures and the marketing strategies that can enhance your campaign

SIGNEWORDS’ professional translation services will help you avoid mistakes like those described in this article and ensure that your content is properly localized for a target market.

To fulfill a marketing translation with a seasoned translator, we've got you covered.