Translation is an essential component of any international marketing strategy. Without professional translation, you run the risk of severely damaging your brand reputation in a foreign market. There are several cases of this happening, even involving the biggest of companies.
One of the more entertaining translation blunders was executed by Ford. When Ford tried exporting cars to Belgium, it wanted to run a moderate advertising slogan. A Business News Daily article which covered the event explains it best from here:
Auto giant Ford found that in Belgium, enticing customers with a dead body in every car isn’t the best way to make a sale. Hoping to highlight the cars’ excellent manufacturing, Ford launched an ad campaign in the European country that execs thought said “Every car has a high-quality body.” However, when translated, the slogan read, “Every car has a high-quality corpse” — far from the image they were hoping to invoke.
If you’re not careful, you may even insult local consumers. You should never settle for translation that wasn’t done by a native speaker. And even then, you may want to run it through a spell check or have it revised.
It’s important to note that in the case of Ford, the company probably invested hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in their exporting efforts. But just because they overlooked one part, their entire campaign was a failure.
Compared to logistics and duty rates, translation isn’t even the largest cost of international exporting. But it’s an essential factor that should be met with proper investment in your marketing strategy.
Most companies don’t make the mistake that Ford did when they practice international marketing. Instead, they invest in professional translation and make sure that they’re sending the right message.
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