Hand holding megaphone agains blackboard with Do You Speak English Words

Don’t Get Marketing Campaigns Translated the Wrong Way

by Jim Dulin

February 9, 2020

You run a successful business in the US and your target audience has always spoken perfect (or nearly perfect) English. Crafting marketing materials for them has always been easy because you share the same culture and speak the same language. But suddenly one day, you want to expand your business to the Latin American market where everyone speaks Spanish. Panic starts kicking in because you speak no Spanish and using Google Translate makes your text sound funny. That’s when you need help from a translation service.

Reach Your Market Segment with the Right Translation

Nothing kills a marketing campaign faster than a message translated in the wrong way. Don’t be one of those brands who learned how to translate the hard way. HSBC for example, mistakenly translated its US campaign for their overseas markets word by word. The original slogan was “Assume nothing”. But in one language, the translated version was read as “Do nothing”. The bank then had to spend $10 million to correct their costly mistake. Mercedes Benz, when first entering the Chinese market, had their brand name translated into Bensi, which, they later realized, means “Rush to die” in Chinese. Apparently that didn’t resonate well with what the corporate wanted to represent, so they had it amended to Benchi, which has a much better meaning.

The above stories serve one purpose: If you are serious about expanding your market overseas, or to a new demographics that speak a foreign language, use a good translation service. Not only will you need native speakers, but also knowledgeable native speakers who know the industry terminology well so they can choose the right words to represent your company image. Different word choices add different tones to the message. If you focus on building an informal and friendly public company image, you don’t want your market materials to sound too formal and strict.

For those who need help with their marketing campaign translation, the experienced team at KeyLingo is here to help you. Don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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