Translating your Brand for a Global Market - Creative Word

We’ve all seen some of the awful examples of brand marketing for global audiences, so know how important it is to get translation right for your brand when selling in a different language, but sometimes even a good translation isn’t good enough.

Venturing into a global market requires an in-depth understanding of the language, and, just as importantly, the culture of your intended market.

Understanding how your potential customers might perceive your brand name, logo, slogans, images on product packaging and so on, is vital if you want to make a good impression from the outset.

Customers (no matter where they live in the world, or what language they speak) will probably see your logo and brand name before anything else, and if they can’t understand it, or it is offensive to them, they are unlikely to go on to purchase your products or services.

So, how can you translate your brand for a global market?

Read on to discover our top tips and best advice…


1. Translating your Brand Name

Your brand name is generally the most recognisable part of your branding – something that is easy to remember, makes a good impression, is emotionally appealing, easy to pronounce, and individual.

However, just because your brand name ticks all these boxes in your home territory, it doesn’t mean it will translate well in other languages.

Even some big name brands have fallen foul of this, including the chocolate manufacturer, Mars, when they rebranded their ‘Marathon’ bar to ‘Snickers’ in the early 90s, as the name is very close to the word ‘sniggers’ meaning mocking laughter in the UK.

Language is intimately linked to culture, so understanding the culture of the region(s) you plan to sell to, is vital to the success of your brand.

Work with native-speaking linguists, who have expert knowledge of both the language, and the culture, so that you can be sure of a successful, accurate and relevant translation of your brand name – even if this means making some adjustments.


2. Translating Slogans and Taglines

As with translating your brand name, your slogan or tagline, may also require adaption for a localised market.

Use a professional translation services provider to check suitability of your tagline, and avoid machine translation options such as, Google Translate, as these tend to use a variety of synonyms which may not be relevant to your brand or product, or worse, they may be understood by your audience in a literal sense.

For instance, American Motors produced a car in the 70s which they called the ‘Matador’ hoping to invoke images of courage and strength, but they failed to research the accurate Spanish translation which is ‘killer’. Needless to say, the car was not well received in Spanish speaking territories!

Local knowledge and linguistic excellence is key to producing relevant and alluring slogans that will captivate your intended audience, promote brand trust and increase sales.


3. Translating Images and Colour

There are huge variations on the use and meaning of colours around the world.

For instance, in the UK you’ll find that white is a colour associated with innocence and purity, and is often worn by brides-to-be on their wedding day.

However, in some Asian cultures such as, China and Korea, white represents death and mourning, and is traditionally worn at funerals.

Translating your brand, logo, and slogans may also include an adaption of the colours used for these, so it worth investigating and researching the meaning of the particular colours linked to your brand, so that you don’t cause offence, or your brand is misinterpreted.

Orange, the mobile phone company, had problems in Ireland with their usual slogan ‘the future’s bright, the future’s Orange’ due to the religious connotations connected to the colour orange within the country.

Seeking advice from a translation services provider who can offer specialist design and translation services will ensure you localise your brand successfully for an international market.

As with colours, images, numbers and icons should be thoroughly checked and researched for possible negative connotations. For example, in the Western world many people believe the number 13 to be unlucky (even though they may not be able to explain the reasons for this), while the Chinese consider number 4 to be bad luck.

Consider your use of images, icons and colour within your business branding, and the cultural connotations they may hold for your audience, very carefully before launch and take advice from a specialist translation company if required.

Consider both language and culture when translating your brand for a global market, and don’t make assumptions centred on your founding market as this may make your brand well-known for all the wrong reasons!

If you would like assistance with any elements of translating your brand for international audiences, please contact Creative Word and our experts will be happy to help.