April 27, 2021
Paula Ribeiro

Expanding our business internationally can be exciting, but in order for this expansion to succeed, it is necessary to attract the international consumer and not send the wrong message, which can not only discourage the consumer from buying your product or service but can also lead to major losses for your company.

Many companies have learned the hard way that an ad or a marketing campaign must be carefully designed for a foreign audience. The translation of a brand message or a company motto, for example, is of paramount importance for a global brand as it can affect a marketing campaign even before it starts.

This was exactly what happened with FORD, the automotive industry giant that started operations in the early 20th century, which, contrary to what you would expect from a company with subsidiaries around the world, did not pay attention to the launching work necessary in foreign markets. In Belgium, for example, where the company's objective was to emphasize its excellent manufacturing capacity, they decided not to localize their advertising campaign and use a direct translation of their English slogan 'Every car has a high-quality body'. Of course, English speakers understood that by "body" Ford meant the body of the car, but buyers who only understood Dutch only read the translated slogan saying literally "Every car has a high-quality corpse inside". Well, who would buy a car with a corpse inside, even if it is a high-quality one???!!!

In most cases it is difficult to translate advertising slogans from one language to another, simply because the slogans are effective in the native language, but have different meanings or are difficult to explain in another language. So, what would be the solution to avoid this type of translation errors? Once again, work with professional and competent human translators is the solution!

Paula Ribeiro
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