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How does your product work in translation?

Translation - by Lingua TranslationsWhether you are a multi-national giant or an SME just branching out into foreign markets, it is important to be aware how your Marketing will be received by the target culture. You can have a fantastic product that really does what it claims to but without the right presentation you can lose many potential customers before even showing them how it can benefit them.

Take for example, Target, the American supermarket, who have recently decided to change the name of some of their products due to their connotations or meanings in other languages. One of the styles of shoe that they sell has the name “Orina”, which to the English speaking ear has no offensive quality, however to a Spanish speaker it may well cause unpleasant surprise when browsing the aisles. The word “orina” in Spanish means “urine” so there is a good chance the Spanish speaking population may be less-inclined to purchase the shoe! In a similar thread, a dress from their ‘plus-size’ range had been listed as the colour ‘manatee grey’, which caused some controversy. Realising these issues and counteracting them should mean that Target can market their products more effectively whether in English or in translation.

When Pepsi first ventured into China, they used the slogan, “Pepsi brings you back to life.” However, the phrase actually translated to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” A serious Marketing error when trying to appeal to this market.

In a quiz on cultural faux-pas, bridges.getmaximpact.com gives the example of a hotel wanting to attract Indian customers to stay whilst on holiday. The marketing experts thought of the most elegant and beautiful building they new in the South Asian country and compared the lodgings to the elegance of the Taj Mahal. Why was this a faux pas? Well, the Taj Mahal, though very beautiful, is in face a Mausoleum. No matter how lovely the building may look, the connotations for someone who knows a little about the building’s usage would likely be very negative!
Coor’s tried to use their slogan “Turn it Loose” in Spanish-speaking countries, however what they didn’t realise is that the implied meaning in this language was ‘to suffer from diarrhoea’

No matter where you are looking to market your products it is important to remember who your target market is. A lack of cultural awareness can be a downfall for anyone but for businesses investing huge amounts of money in ventures abroad, it can be the difference between success and utter failure.

For more information on our translation services please visit our translation page.

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About Sharon Stephens

Sharon Stephens is Operations Director of Lingua Translation. With a First Class Honours Degree in Translation and a University Lecturer in Translation (Masters), she is a self confessed language geek! Bringing the academic principles of translation and business together Sharon offers a quality-driven and needs centric translation and interpreting service - like no other.

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