Deciding on a product name and brand for your product or service is enough of a challenge if you’re just attempting to do it in one language. But in our digital age, most companies have to think far beyond a single language and instead need to develop a brand that will be effective in the global marketplace. We may not be able to help you develop a brand for your product, but we can point out some others that have been successfully translated into different languages – as well as a few that were not so successful.
When it comes to a successful brand, it’s hard to beat Mr. Clean. Not only does the name immediately describe the product and what it accomplishes; it also happens to translate well into other languages. In Spain, Mr. Clean is Don Limpio; in Germany, it’s Meister Proper; and in Italy the product name is Mastro Lindo. Each translation of this popular brand clearly describes the product to customers in those countries.
On the other end of the marketing spectrum is a brand that doesn’t need to be translated because the product name doesn’t mean anything. Kodak is a great example of just such a brand. The product name remains the same no matter where in the world Kodak products are sold.
Some companies have chosen to utilize their logo in an effort to create a consistent brand throughout the world. The familiar PepsiCo logo is a good example of this marketing strategy. Chances are that you’ll immediately recognize what the product is if you see the wavy red, white and blue circular logo – no matter what kind of translation accompanies it.
Lost In Translation
Unfortunately, there are just as many – if not more – failures in international branding as there are successes. While many of these brands are very effective inside the U.S., they don’t always translate well into other languages.
You might think that Coca-Cola would be a safe brand name. Unfortunately, when marketed in China the popular brand was initially translated as “Bite the Wax Tadpole.”
The actual translation of a product name isn’t always the issue – sometimes the problem is with the images on packaging. Gerber baby food made this mistake when they attempted to sell their product with the familiar cute baby on the label to customers in Africa, not realizing that many products are sold with labels depicting the contents of the container since some customers aren’t able to read.
Even in instances when the product name translates well, marketers still have to make sure that product slogans do the same. When Coors beer used their slogan, “Turn it loose,” in Spain, for example, they failed to realize that the same phrase in Spanish means having diarrhea.
While some of these true-life blunders may sound humorous, they were anything but funny for the companies involved. If you are about to enter the global marketplace with your product or service, be sure that your brand translates well into other languages, and that your taglines and packaging images are appropriate for your potential customers. The first step in the process is to contact a reputable translation company that can match your business needs with experienced linguists who understand the cultural norms of the countries in which you’ll be marketing your product or service.