International Business – What makes a Translation Constructive?

In the current era of globalization, every business finds itself with an opportunity to become a global brand or to assure its successful existence in multiple countries. It is a smart move to take your brand across the borders and avail the additional benefits of international business that are on offer. Many businesses have successfully managed to operate in multiple countries and continents, defying all the cultural and linguistic barriers along the way. The reason is simple; the consumer market today is open to welcome brands that offer good value against money regardless of their origin apart from some very specific cases. So if any business that is capable of providing quality products overseas is considered capable of competing with the local brands present there.

Globalization and localization are commonly considered to be poles apart, but they effectively go hand in hand with every overseas business venture. When a brand decides to start its operations or marketing in a foreign market, it is contributing to globalization but to make it successful overseas, the business has to shape itself according to the norms and needs of the host country so localization also comes into play. And to localize your brand according to the host country, the translation of your promotional content holds the key. And for that translation to provide the desired results, there are a lot of factors that are to be considered.

Correct usage of Language:
Marketing content is full of such sentences and idioms that are relatable to the local market. So when going for global business via export or setting up a manufacturing site elsewhere, translating the text word to word does not provide the accurate meaning. The reason being that every language has a different sentence structure and different placements for words that carry the bulk of meaning, so for that purpose it is of extreme importance that the translator responsible for the conversion of content in the local language does have a thorough understanding of both languages and cultures. Translating promotional content needs a considerable amount of grasp on the sentence structures and usage of idioms of both languages, as in the past there have been many mistakes regarding the translation of idioms and tag lines. For example, if an English idiom “Hit the nail on the head” is translated simply to another language, it will bring a completely different meaning as only those familiar with English language know that this group of words refers to doing something exactly right so the translator needs to find a group of words that exhibit similar meaning in the other language.

Cultural Factors:
Every market or country has its own distinct culture. There are many things that are acceptable in one country but considered illicit somewhere else. The translator needs to have a thorough understanding of the cultural aspects as well. There are symbols, words and subjects that are considered completely fine in the home country but can be exceedingly offensive in the host country culture. For example, the “thumbs up” symbol is deciphered as “okay” or “well done” in most cultures, but in some others like in Iran, South America and some parts of Europe it is considered as obscene and insulting. So the translators need to make sure that the exact feel of all promotional text and symbols is retained in the translated version also and the business owners should make sure that these factors are taken into consideration as they are the actual stake owners and even small mistakes can be damaging for their brand.

Understanding the Market:
It can be noticed that the advertisements and promotional techniques around the world vary drastically, but bring out good results within their specific markets. The reason for this is that in every country and culture, there are distinct factors that bring out positive feelings among the people. The variance in the level of intellect and literacy is also a defining factor. We find that in most of the western countries, the advertisers are successful in using logic, rationality and benefits in their television, print and social media advertisements, whereas in Asian countries, marketers and advertisers have been successful in using emotions to their advantage. The reason behind this is simple, different markets have different attracting factors and so the selling techniques also vary accordingly. The business owners need to assure that the translators are well aware of what selling techniques can be successful in the host country. The names of the products and brands can also be changed if needed to get in accordance with the market norm, two great examples are that General Motors has persisted with the name “Opel” for its operations in the German Market and Suzuki is present in the Indian Market as “Maruti Suzuki” to get the desired marketing impact.

Understanding the Brand itself:
This is probably the most underrated and important factor among all that contribute towards a successful translation of marketing and promotional content. Those who are responsible for translation need to be fully aware of the brand’s functions, and also the vision it exhibits. So, it is of extreme importance, that the brand’s value, the vision it exhibits and the mindset it supports are maintained completely and in accordance with the constraints of the target market. For example, if a product is designed for the Elite class in China, and is to be marketed in the UAE, its promotions need to be channelized with respect to the thinking and preference of the elite class in UAE. To achieve this objective, the translator needs to have a broad understanding of the brand itself to be able to portray similar values and feeling as per the norms of a different market. Each brand is a culture and phenomenon in itself and that is its strength, so it has to be retained even when entering a different market.

Taking your brand to new markets is not an easy job; many strong brands have infamously made big blunders while doing international business. KFC made mistake of translating its tagline “finger-lickin good” in Chinese as “Eat your Fingers off” and such small mistake was disastrous for their business goals. So the businesses looking to operate in multiple countries or export their products need to ensure that translators assigned with the project have a strong awareness of important factors involved and most importantly the brand itself that they are supposed to promote.