Successfully developing a global strategy for an international brand is greatly dependent both on localization and translation services. After all, in order to distribute a product it must also be advertised and adapted for the local culture. Many brands look to patent their names, logos, colors and other key elements when going abroad – but it is important to make sure they are worth owning the rights to. Brand localization is a big part of international marketing, and the process is entirely dependent on one key aspect: how well does the product name translate into the target language?
Written by Sophie Srnka, Marketing Intern
What is Marketing/Brand Localization?
Localization is a process that incorporates both translation and transcreation to adapt a message to a specific culture. In the case of marketing, localization plays an extremely important role for companies looking to interact with international markets.
Marketing localization can be extensive – adapting everything from advertising message to brand colors. Every culture has different significance and meanings attached to words and concepts, and not adapting your marketing message to be in line with the normalized perceptions of your target market can have negative results such as brand aversion and low success rates.
When it comes to a company’s localization strategy, perhaps the most important aspect is whether or not the brand name of its product or service will transition seamlessly into another culture.
This of course needs to be considered before pursuing legal rights to your brand. The worst thing you could do is patent your brand in another culture’s language (or patent a single word related to your brand for that matter) only to find our you hold the rights to a product name that will never sell.
But how do you go about addressing brand localization?
How to: Brand Localization
Many start-ups are interested in expanding their goods or services internationally when developing their business strategy, and should therefore consider the name of their product or service carefully.
New products created by older, longer-established companies (especially those already on the global market) also have to take an internationally marketable name into consideration just ask coca-cola. At times names have been changed considerably by undergoing marketing specific translations or tweaked slightly to fit in.
It is not only cultural appropriateness that must be considered when prepping a product for marketing localization, but also the pronunciation and writing of the name. Take these large, multinational brands for example:
Toffifee vs Toffifay – German to English Translation
The German sweet known as “Toffifay” in English, for example, is actually written as “Toffifee” in German. While it may seem arbitrary to make a slight spelling change, this preserves the original German pronunciation in the English language.
At the same time, the spelling remains close enough to the original that there is no confusion as to which product the name refers to. While the English name may seem strange to German-speaking customers at first glance, it makes verbal communication easier.
Pepsi or Pecsi? – English to Spanish Translation
The soda company, Pepsi, underwent a similar change. While Pepsi itself is a globally known brand, Argentinian Spanish speakers had problems pronouncing the “ps” part of the name and therefore were less likely to order it.
In response, to better promote its product, Pepsi was renamed Pecsi in Argentina. Brand recognition went up by ten percent and sales rose as well. Increased customer ease with the new brand name once again emphasizes the importance of localization.
Sprite to Xue – English to Chinese Translation
Sometimes, when the original name is unfit for a particular market, a completely new one is used which successfully markets the product. When Sprite, for example, chose to undergo branding translation, the company took on a completely different name for Chinese markets.
Using localization branding strategies, the word 雪碧 [xuĕ bì] was created, 雪 [xuĕ] meaning snow and 碧[bì] meaning blue-green. The Chinese name, 雪碧 [xuĕ bì], evokes freshness and brings to mind the packaging of the product.
Toyota vs Toyoda – Japanese to English Translation
The Japanese car company known as Toyota in English actually started out as “Toyoda” when initially translated from Japanese into English. In 1936 the company changed their brand name to Toyota in order to achieve a more positive sounding name in English.
Depending on the product itself and the preexisting name in the original language, there are different issues to address. However, when it comes to successful branding of a product in global markets localization is key. Whether it is an adaptation to a better pronunciation for the target language, re-branding or changing the brand name to a completely new name, marketing localization helps sell a product globally.
If you’re looking to take your brand global, and are wondering whether or not your brand name needs to undergo some adapting, consider the following tips.
Tips for Brand Localization
When undergoing a brand localization project, the following factors must be considered:
- What reaction does your brand name provoke?
- Does it have more than one potential meaning?
- Are there any negative connotations?
- Are there any other products or brands with the same name?
- How does the brand name sound, and is it similar to anything else?
Adapting your entire brand to a new target market can seem daunting, and even counter to the previous work you did building the brand as it is. However, not considering an international market’s culture before entrance, or even contracting inaccurate brand localization, can result in poor brand translation and disastrous performance for your products or services.
It is always best to consult with a team of culture experts about the best way to communicate your brand’s offering – doing so could save you time and money remedying your brand perception.
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