Tips on Translating your Brand for Overseas Audiences - Creative Word

It has never been easier to access overseas audiences with the globalised world we enjoy at present. However, this interaction has presented some new challenges for businesses who want to make the most of these opportunities.

Brands must translate effortlessly from one culture to another, and appeal to a multitude of people with differing languages, lifestyles, and priorities.

Even for multinational companies this transference of branding from one region to another can be problematic; Clairol’s ‘Mist Stick’, marketed in Germany, had bizarre connotations as ‘mist’ in German means manure. Likewise, baby food producers, Gerber, discovered that in France, ‘Gerber’ is remarkably similar to the slang term for throwing up!

Rebranding for different regions and languages can lead to issues around brand recognition in international markets, and for many companies it is usually preferable to stay with their original marketing campaign.

In order to achieve this brand translation successfully, it is wise to incorporate language specialists such as, native speaking translators, and localisation experts, who can advise you on any potential issues before they arise. They can then tweak any wording, or images, to fit particular regions or audiences without requiring a complete overhaul of a specific campaign, or brand design.

The tips below will help you translate your brand for overseas markets, and ensure you don’t make costly, or inappropriate mistakes with your design.


Cultural Consideration

To be successful with your brand overseas, you need to connect with your audience at all levels, and show that you understand their needs.

Besides the potential risk of not communicating your message clearly and concisely, there is also a possibility of causing offence, as the sports brand giants, Nike, discovered when they released a range of leggings inspired by traditional tattoos from the Pacific. Unfortunately, they hadn’t undertaken effective market research, and the release sparked protests, and petitions due to the exploitative nature of profiteering from traditional designs.

Do your homework before exporting your brand overseas, as it can have a long-term impact if you get it wrong.

Select a professional localisation provider that can assist you through native, in-country translators, and designers, who are aware of all potential pitfalls, and who are trained in marketing, and sector specific areas.

This behind-the-scenes work will improve brand confidence, recognition, and customer satisfaction.


Localise your Brand

It isn’t only wider cultural considerations that you must be aware of when translating your brand, but also those linked to language, identity, gender, legal regulations, and so on.

For instance, if the region you are moving into has gender specific language (such as French) ensure that this doesn’t impact upon brand concepts you have chosen once they are translated. An example of this would be if you are marketing a product used by only females, but your brand name translates with masculine connotations.

A professional translation service provider will be able suggest alternatives, or could pre-empt these kind of mishaps.

Even in tech domains there are regional differences that must be accounted for when translating your brand. Apps are popular all over the world, however, different regions prefer different Apps with similar functions. Social media sites have differing popularity around the globe, so don’t assume what works in one country will work in another.

For example, many people in the UK use Twitter and Facebook, but in China some platforms are banned. Their alternative sites are Weibo and RenRen. Likewise, Google is used minimally with only 2% of online searches using Google.

Whichever market you are targeting, it is ultimately about tuning into the local audience, to ensure you fully understand their needs, and can communicate your brand effectively.


Overall, the best way to ensure your brand translates well in new markets is to ensure your message is meaningful. This requires assistance from localisation experts that can direct marketing campaigns with in-depth local knowledge, and who understand the fundamental experiences and emotions that encompass your target market.

If you require assistance with translation, localisation, design, or marketing your brand in overseas territories, please contact Creative Word, and we will be happy to guide you through the process.