Translation and Your Brand – Competing in a Global Economy

Competing in Global Economy

There are a number of considerations when bringing your product, service, or information to a foreign land. Beyond linguistic differences, you will face a brand new consumer market that may not be familiar with you, your company, or your material. This can be a challenge to overcome or a blessing in disguise depending on your approach.

With the integration of the Internet into the global consumer marketplace, people have access to just about anything they could imagine with the click of a button.

Today, you can purchase chocolates from Belgium, cheese from the Netherlands, and towels from Turkey while sitting in your living room. You have access to the latest product manuals, academic books, and policy documents with just as much ease. Why would somebody want to choose your product, your service, or your information? How does translation services factor into these decisions?

Many of us have heard or read stories about companies who have not put the proper time or quality control into effective and accurate translation. We know the embarrassment and loss that has resulted from the errant or culturally insensitive data and poorly represented company or product names. While it is important to avoid repeating other’s mistakes, what about learning from those who have mastered the process?

Brand Localization, To Establish or Not to Establish

Your number one concern when moving your data into the global marketplace should be how your audience will perceive you. If your target audience views you as an expert, they will trust your material or information. If they believe you are providing a valuable product or service, their affinity for your brand will increase. Are you presenting something brand new, age-old and traditional, of special significance….

There are two main approaches to brand localization and translation: Translate and Do Not Translate. Both options give you an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors. If you want your name or brand to keep a foreign flair, you may want to forego translating certain names or words.

Along the same line, if you want your ideas to carry a new term or terms with it, be sure those terms do not get translated but only explained during the translation process.

For example, if you created a new chemical compound and named it “Gelatin X” you may not want the name of the compound translated. You want everybody, regardless of language or location, to identify your compound the same way.

When Armani created their new cologne “Si” they decided not to have the name translated into local languages. This was not the case for their Water for Men cologne which is known as Eaux Pour Homme or Eau D’Aromes in other parts of the world.

In short, sometimes, you want your products, names, and information to become part of the local culture and fit seamlessly into the local life. Other times, the “foreignness” or “newness” of your work or brand may be what you want to highlight. Either way, be sure your translator knows what you are thinking before the start of the translation process.

The Power of a Name

Sometimes names of people, companies, or products may not mean the same thing in one language as they do in another. There are many humorous stories about companies that did not perform proper investigations into name translations before they entered a foreign market. There is another side to this coin, however.

When you move into another country, you have the freedom to recreate yourself and your brand. If you have a globally recognized name, you may not want to have your name altered. If you wrote a book on cardiology, however, you may want to have the title localized so that it jumps out at the target audience.

This process is called transcreation: taking your information and making it culturally relevant. Not just linguistics, but your name, your image, your phrasings and slogans, and your concepts.

Even a mega-company like McDonald’s adapts their messages. The famous “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign started in Germany with “Ich Liebe Es” or I Love It. McDonald’s wanted the feeling to be local and not part of a campaign that felt global, so they allowed the slogan to be translated into local equivalents. In Arabic, the slogan became “Of course I love it”, in the Ukraine “I Love This”, and in France, “C’est tout ce que j’aime” – It’s everything that I Love.

Remember, first impressions are critical. You want to make sure that your brand captures the attention of the local populace in the very way in which you intended.

Setting the Standard

Many companies are taking a shortcut to the global economy and expecting the international consumer to accept them as they are. They have not taken the time to think about the impact of their name, message, or impression. This is your chance to set the standard.

Marketing surveys have repeatedly shown that consumers prefer information that is presented in their local language. Even multi-lingual people will favor brands and books that are presented in their native tongue at a rate of 2 to 1. With so many businesses doing a shoddy job of translating their materials into local languages, you can quickly set yourself, your brand, and your information apart.

Be the company that is culturally relevant, culturally sensitive, and linguistically targeted. Give the local consumers a chance to make a decision in their own language with information that is accurately localized. Do not underestimate the importance of your business’s, brand’s, or book’s first impression; choose your translation service provider wisely and work with them on an effective localization process.

This post is written by Robert Stitt, a content writer with Ulatus.

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