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Successful Translation and Localization of Your Brand

localization and translation services for brand

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Translation and Localization of Your Brand for Global Success

How Does a Business Become International?

What does it mean to translate a brand?  What goes into translating a brand?  Making your brand appeal to international audiences is not as simple as seeking foreign investors or having your website translated.  Translating a brand goes all the way to the heart of what the company is about.  It must feel as natural to the target audience as it does to the business owner or the board of the company. 

Brands seeking an international audience have more concerns than their image.  They have to be legally compliant, have a product/service that meets a need in their target market, and have to localize their marketing materials.  A multilingual employee, no matter how fluent, will not be able to translate a brand the way that professional translators skilled in Marketing translation and website translation and localization, are.

That’s Not What I Meant to Say!

A well-translated and localized brand can attract more customers in the target language than the original.  However, the best intentions don’t always yield the best results.  Even the world’s most well-known companies are capable of committing international faux pas when trying to localize their brands, products, and services. 

Here are some case studies of brands that tried translating their brand into different languages and cultures, the area they chose, and the results they got: 

  • Adobe: Everywhere! Software giant Adobe has improved customer service and broadened its reach by using machine translation and human post-editing.  Adobe has translated its customer support pages, product descriptions, and manuals into Russian, Spanish, French, and more, with options to switch between languages while using a product.  A Multilingual User Interface (MUI) installer can even select a language for the user based on the language their operating system (OS) is using. 
  • Coke: New Zealand. In New Zealand, the phrase “Kia ora, Mate” was placed on vending machines.  Unfortunately, that translates to “Hello, Death” in the Maori language.  Perhaps Coke was trying to use “mate” as the English colloquialism for “friend” due to New Zealand’s proximity to Australia, but either way, it was badly localized and New Zealanders were unimpressed. 
  • Coke: China. Coke saw better success in China by using the phrase “Ke kou ke le,” which not only sounds similar to “Cola-Cola” but translates to “tasty fun” or “happiness in the mouth.”  This is a perfect example of quality localization as it stays true to Coke’s core brand message of joy, refreshment, and sharing with friends.  
  • Braniff International Airlines’ slogan “Fly in leather,” referring to their leather seats, translated into “Fly naked” in Spanish. This might appeal to some, but we’d suggest something else when approaching the powerful Spanish-speaking market. 
  • Mercedes-Benz: China. Known for its sleek, expensive cars, Mercedes-Benz stood to make huge profits in China under the name Benz.  They made a mistake though, because “Benz” sounds a lot like “ben si” in Chinese, which means “deadly foolish.”  That does not make a Mercedes-Benz sound classy or safe.  Later, they changed it to “Ben Chi,” which means “gallop” or “sprint.”   

Putting Your Right Word Forward When Localizing Your Brand

There are many other examples of businesses succeeding and failing at winning over a multilingual market.  Successful brand localization needs care, genuine interest in meeting the target market’s needs, and a local touch.  That’s why JR Language uses professional translators fluent not only in the source and target languages, but in the culture, desires, and habits of the target market. Here are some tips for translation and localization of your brand:

  • Stay aware of your target market’s trends. Tastes can change in a day, so make sure to watch the influencers, listen to the market, and stay on top of industry news.
  • Meet your customers where they are, don’t wait for them to find you. How do they connect with each other?  What media do they like to use?  What search engines do they use?  What social media sites and apps do they prefer?  Find out, and translate your brand accordingly.   
  • Be open to change. Your localized brand might look much the same as it did, or it could be completely different.  You might need to use different colors- green is considered dignified and attractive in the Middle East, but using it in Indonesia would be taboo.  Like Coke, you might want to translate your brand’s name, or leave it as is.  Your translator will advise you as to whether your brand means something in the target language, or would be hard to pronounce for speakers of that language.   
  • Look at both sides of the aisle. While preparing to translate your brand, take a long look at what your brand’s fans say, and an equally long look at what your detractors say.  Being open to change pairs well with being open to criticism. 
  • Commit to your market. People know when a company doesn’t really care about them and isn’t putting in the effort to get close to them in a meaningful way. 
  • Write toward translation and localization. This means weeding out colloquialisms, jokes, and references that will not be understood in another language or culture.  Be sure that your tone is appropriate for the situation.  Write clearly and concisely to minimize mistakes, which will save time and money.

Open Your Shop to the World through use of Localization and Translation Services

Effective translation and localization of your brand can mean hugely successful expansion into new markets.  With the help a professional translation company like JR Language, you can be sure that your brand translation and localization is in the skilled hands of professional translators who specialize in providing quality advertising translation services that will effectively bring your brand’s unique message and experience to  a global front.

 It’s important to also keep in mind that translating a brand doesn’t just mean translating the marketing materials.  Doing business in another language or nation requires translation of legal documents including licenses, patents, formation documents, and other legal texts.  JR Language uses professional translators dedicated to specific languages and industries for your legal document translation needs.   





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Flora was born and raised in New York to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She has a degree in Accounting. She is fluent in Mandarin, and contributes a unique perspective as someone who was raised in 2 different cultures. She finds humor and opportunities to learn as she constantly searches for the balance between the East and West.