Marketing is becoming more and more competitive as companies scramble

Last Updated On: February 7, 2018

inTranslation Tips

marketing-translationMarketing is becoming more and more competitive as companies scramble to get their message across to potential customers overseas. Sometimes, companies fail to use the right marketing translation services to do a culturally aware translation for them, resulting in anything from incomprehension to derision, depending on the error. It seems as if the potential for errors in marketing translation is greater than with many other types of translation. This is probably because the sorts of slogans and logos used in marketing in English are very idiomatic. Translating them into another language is more than simple translation – it requires a cultural awareness and knowledge, too.

There have been a number of blunders over the years that have probably been remembered by the companies that made the mistake more than the people who read them. Sometimes they are plain funny. A Pepsi advert, for instance read in English “Pepsi brings you back to life”, but translated into Mandarin it read “Pepsi brings you back from the grave”!


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Another slogan, used on a t-shirt in the USA, designed to advertise a t-shirt design company, was marketed amongst the large Spanish speaking community in the US during the Pope’s visit. It made a mistake with the gender of the word “papa” in Spanish. The slogan was supposed to read “I saw the pope (el papa), but in fact read “I saw the potato” (la papa)!

Maybe these companies are remembered more than companies which produce perfectly good translations, but whether their products sell well is another matter. The same sort of mistakes over using a marketing translation company that hasn’t done its homework properly happens the other way around, too. Adverts and slogans that originate in other languages get mistranslated when put into English. One memorable translation error was by the huge Swedish firm, IKEA, which really should have known better considering its market share everywhere outside of Sweden. It wanted to demonstrate how mobile a type of desk was as it had wheels on it. It called it “fartfull” from the word “fährt” meaning “speed” in Swedish. The desk presumably got a lot of laughs but may not have sold very well!

The key to marketing success when considering expansion into an overseas market is to take your marketing seriously. Use a NAATI translation service for effective translations that are accurate as well as being culturally aware.

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