August 5, 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.

UK-based HSBC Holdings had been running the Assume Nothing campaign for five years starting in 2004. But in 2009, it had to pull the campaign out and spent millions of dollars to do so. HSBC is a private bank with global operations. When it decided to bring its ‘Assume Nothing’ campaign to overseas markets, the company failed to check how their tagline would translate into other languages. The error occurred when many countries translated “Assume Nothing” to Do Nothing, which is contradictory to the campaign’s goal of urging people to use the bank’s services. The error caused the bank to spend $10 million to produce a re-branding campaign, using ‘The world’s private bank’ as their new tagline.

In most of cases, it is difficult to translate a marketing campaign from one country and one language into another, simply because they belong to different cultures. So, and to avoid this type of failure and losses, the solution is to work with competent professionals and linguists!

Paula Ribeiro
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