Join Doug Ladd for an in-depth discussion in this video Translation and back translation, part of Marketing Foundations: International Marketing.
- Chevrolet gives us one of the best examples of the importance of checking your translation when they tried to introduce the Nova to consumers in Mexico. Translated literally, the term "no va" means "no go" in Spanish. Not quite the imagery you wanna sell when you're in the car business. There are many other examples of bad or botched translations. Sharwood's attempted to launch a new line of sauces under the name Bundh. They later learned the phrase "bundh" means a derogatory term for "donkey" in Punjabi.
Not a good image. Kellogg's discovered their Bran Buds cereal was translated into Swedish roughly as "burned farmer." Less commonly, a translation error can work in your favor. For example, the chocolate wafer Kit Kat is treated as "kitto katsu" in Japanese, which translates to "surely win." Nestle capitalized on this, and Kit Kat became the candy of choice to give to a student when you're wishing them good luck on an exam. This has now blossomed, so Kit Kat bars are available in post offices in Japan to send to anyone you want to send well wishes to.
These translation issues can be uncovered early. Here are some steps to follow. Get all of your marketing materials translated to the languages of other countries you're looking to enter. Don't rely on the guy in your office who took two years of Spanish in middle school to do this for you. Also, don't rely on simple online tools such as Google Translate. Hire a translation firm to do this for you. The fees are well worth the stress you may save. You can find translation firms such as Harvard Translations and others by searching online.
Once you get your translations completed, send them to a second translation house and ask them to translate the materials back to English or your home market language. It's important that this step be completed by someone other than the original translator. This is called back-translation. This helps avoid some of the mistakes that can occur. Before you go live with any of these materials, have someone who was raised as a native speaker of the language review the materials, and specifically ask her to consider slang and shorthand phrases that may trip you up.
This can be done by your export distributor, franchisee, or joint-venture partner. If you're going the direct-investment route, make sure someone on your staff is able to translate materials for you. It isn't flattering when your marketing materials show up on a webpage highlighting bad translation mistakes. These self-inflicted wounds can be avoided. Just slow down and ensure it's done right.
The course also investigates options for global expansion, such as exporting, licensing, joint ventures, and direct investment, and details how to put together a successful marketing mix using distribution, promotional methods, and translation. Plus, learn where to turn for more information about your specific target markets.
- The rise of the global consumer
- Learning about customers in global markets
- Accessing foreign markets
- Adapting products
- Balancing risks and rewards