If your ads don’t connect to your audience, you’re probably not selling very much. Your ability to establish a connection can mean the difference between being perceived as believable or unbelievable, and as your product or service being evaluated in a positive manner or a negative one.

Selling to an international audience can mean big money, but if you’re using literal translations from a service like Google Translate, you may not be saying what you think you are!

Advertising is often peppered with colorful phrases and humor, things that don’t translate well to another language or culture. And if you’re using sarcasm in your ad, there’s no telling what your audience is really hearing! As we’ve said in previous blogs, speech-to-text technology won’t capture the nuances, jargon, and subtext of your conversations whether they’re technical or casual.

A major bank learned the woes of literal translation the expensive way. In 2009, HSBC had to spend $10 million to rebrand itself after its “Assume Nothing” campaign was mistranslated as “Do Nothing” in several countries.

If you’re trying to order a cheeseburger and some fries from a fast food restaurant in a foreign country, using literal translation software probably won’t get you into much trouble, and you may even walk away from the counter with precisely what you intended to order! But when it comes to telling people about your product, it’s risky to put your trust into software that doesn’t understand idioms, compound words, or humor.

In a famous example from the early 1908s, the slogan “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” left Chinese customers overseas confused. Of course, it could be due to the literal translation the company used: “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.” That slip-up certainly didn’t endear Pepsi to its market. The Chinese revere their ancestors and even have festivals where they believe their ancestors come back to visit the living.

You put a lot of time and effort into creating a marketing campaign for your business. The fact that you have the opportunity to enter an international market tells us that! Uno Translations and Communications can help avoid embarrassment or even worse! Regardless of the language, with over two hundred in our field of expertise, we’ve got you covered! Contact us now to get started today!

Literal Translations Can Be Bad for Business
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