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Why Check That Your Brand Translates?

When you are taking your business and brand abroad it is essential that you check that your brand works overseas. Perhaps the slogan means something completely different when translated, maybe the translation isn’t quite what you wanted to say or perhaps the slogan when translated turns into something hugely horrific and offensive?

You may be wondering if this is just a scare tactic blog to promote our own services, or perhaps you think nobody would be stupid enough to take their brand worldwide without checking first. All we can say is: you’d be surprised!

The well-known HSBC Bank that continuously promotes their knowledge of different cultures across the world through their adverts found that one marketing technique backfired in 2009 when their slogan “Assume Nothing” was translated as “Do Nothing” – which is exactly what the customers did and is definitely not what they hoped for.

We all know the strap line of KFC is “Finger-lickin’ good” yet when the brand was taken to China in the late 1980s it was translated to “Eat Your Fingers Off” which is, oddly enough, not a strap line the Chinese wanted to see when going out for a fried chicken bargain bucket with friends.

Another ‘less attractive’ motto was for Coors beers from America, whose strap line is “Turn It Loose”, meaning to relax with a beer and not meaning “Suffer from Diarrhoea” as it was translated into for Spain. It certainly made a memorial mark in Spain, but sadly not for the right reasons.

Ford is a pretty well known brand of cars, you think they’d have the money and sense to check if their brand worked when translated wouldn’t you? Sadly not; Ford launched an ad campaign across Europe, the message was meant to read “Every car has a high-quality body”, instead it read “Every car has a high-quality corpse” when translated and sadly wasn’t something Europeans wanted with their new car.

Braniff Airlines decided to go upmarket and they started hyping up their new leather seats as added luxury when you fly. Their slogan to promote their leather seats was “Fly in Leather” but when translated for Mexico the expression meant “Fly Naked” and as much as this was of interest to some flyers, sadly this was not the message the airline company was trying to get across.

Sometimes it isn’t what you say but it’s what you see and that is why it is recommended that you use a professional translation company when looking at going overseas with your business. Only by this means can you know are safe and that your message will be understood. Sadly Pampers got it right with the words, but wrong with the pictures. When they started selling nappies in Japan they used the traditional image of the stork delivering the baby on all the packaging, but this led to much confusion as Japanese people believe babies arrive on giant floating peaches, as per Japanese folklore – they had never heard of storks bringing babies.

These are just some of the very costly errors that have taken place around the globe; these are large well-known companies that didn’t think to double check. If you are looking at expanding overseas why not drop us a line and we can check your branding for you.


Please note, these examples came from;