Here are a few examples of botched up translations by some top-notch organizations that were expanding their global businesses in the past.
- A major US automobile giant launched a mid-size car in Puerto Rico and tried to create its Unique Selling Proposition (USP) based on the words ‘courage’ and ‘strength’. But it was incorrectly translated to “Killer.”
- An American beer producer used translation for its campaign in Spanish. The English slogan “Turn it Loose” was interpreted into Spanish as “Suffer from Diarrhea.”
- The slogan “Finger-Licking good” of a famous US-based fried chicken maker translated into Chinese as “Eat your fingers off.”
There are several other instances like the ones mentioned above where major corporations became laughing stocks due to poor translation job.
Why Translation for Business can’t be taken lightly
Major American, Japanese and Korean companies have been expanding their global business operations to grab a major market share in their respective industries. In order to succeed overseas, these companies try increasing their appeal in the foreign market. The main objective behind such efforts is to develop a large international customer base. However, if the execution of this strategy goes wrong, the outcome could be embarrassing, and in some cases it could be disastrous.
Many major organizations have learned their lesson the hard way when their advertisement or marketing campaigns worked in the native countries, but turned out to be hilarious and in some cases, offensive in other countries.
Translation is a critical task, and any blunder can hurt the cultural sensitivity and pride of people. Not just the target audience, any individual or community can get offended due to a misinterpretation.
Things to consider for Global Translation job
- Cultural Context
Organizations will succeed in business expansion when they are able to establish a connection with the target audience. For this purpose, understanding the language and culture of a country and its specific regions is the first step. Local people should be able to interpret the message behind an advertisement or a slogan. Many words and phrases may be acceptable in one country, but not in another.
When translating business content for a foreign country, it’s important to show respect for its history, people and their feelings. A carefully strategized approach will create a pleasant experience both for a business and its customers. It will also help in generating more business.
Persuasive (not offensive) language addressing the needs and desires of customers is the key to attracting business. One must be careful, however, because that power of persuasion can get lost in the process of inept translation. Incorrect translation may change the meaning of content significantly, and instead of creating a positive impact, it will backfire.
Companies that are looking to do long term business in the global market should not take any chance when it comes to translation work. Hiring a professional language translation agency is the best solution to get accurate and effective work done. These agencies have qualified and skilled translators who understand all the aspects related to language and culture. Hence, they can translate words and phrases that convey the appropriate meaning in foreign languages. This would make business content comprehensible and appealing to the customers.
Sheri has close to 10 years of experience in providing professional language translation agency. As a true professional, Sheri first recognizes the needs of her clients and then finds effective language solutions for them to strive in today’s competitive environment. She has an excellent understanding of the translation requirements of the global business world.