We live in a globalized world nowadays
E-commerce has made it easy for businesses to connect with consumers in various parts of the world and a company’s success often depends on its ability to break into an international market.
This unequivocally points to the need for marketing translation services.
Any marketing campaign, no matter how successful it may be in its source country, is crippled if it cannot win over a customer base in another part of the world, so translation must be considered an integral step in the marketing process.
This isn’t always an easy task to tackle, though.
A marketing campaign must be localized, not merely translated, which requires keeping cultural considerations in mind and adapting the message to your target audience.
Here are a few 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”.
➥ Which was intended to highlight its airplanes’ leather seats and thus appeal to first-class customers.
➥ Was translated 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 their products as “pants” in the UK. The meaning of the word is totally different in those countries.
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”.
➥ Playing off of the undertones of strength and courage attached to the word in Spain.
➥ However, when they tried to market their new car in Puerto Rico under that name, the word was interpreted as “killer” by the locals.
➥ Without the positive connotations associated with that word in Spain, the name didn’t instill enough confidence in potential Puerto Rican customers.
➥ No one wanted to drive a “killer” on roads that were already dangerous enough.
Spain’s Spanish is not the same as Puerto Rico’s Spanish. The same goes for every other language out there. Regional differences can make a huge impact if they aren’t used correctly.
3. Be acquainted with the target culture
In order 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 very low.
➥ 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, people simply will not be amenable to buying a product that they don’t connect psychologically with.
A lack of knowledge regarding cultural values can also make your marketing campaign flop.
➥ When Pepsodent tried to sell their toothpaste in Southeast Asia by highlighting its teeth-whitening power.
➥ They were shocked to find out that people in this part of the world actually 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.
In order to market to a particular audience, it is important to understand what that group values and what is in demand.
4. Understand what is offensive to a region
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 is considered offensive or if you’re not predicting how a message might be perceived.
➥ For example, when Pepsi entered the Chinese market, its slogan “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life”.
➥ Was incorrectly translated as “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave”.
➥ This was particularly unfortunate, considering how important reverence for ancestors is in Chinese culture.
➥ Not taking into consideration that pork products are strictly off-limits to Muslims and that Ramadan is a period of fasting.
➥ Not surprisingly, tempting customers with forbidden food was not perceived to be the most sensible marketing technique.
➥ This faux pas was compounded by the fact that the store was located near one of the most prominent mosques in the area ➤ Tesco apologized in response to complaints, but the damage had been done.
As these examples demonstrate, lack of cultural awareness can lead to some embarrassing mistakes with dire consequences.
Qualified marketing translators
In order 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 the ones described in this article and make sure that your content is adequately localized for a target market.