The Mediterranean sea viewed from space.

Challenges Behind Marketing Translation

Est. Reading Time: 4min
Category: Translate
Last Updated: April 6, 2021
By: Rana Hamodah

Are you planning to take your business to a global level? Well, you have a lot of planning ahead. To reach global audiences, your work has to be multilingual and give out a strong message. There are a lot of challenges that come in the way and are often neglected but trust me, they leave a huge impact on your company’s overall image. The following are the problems that get in the way of marketing translation:


  • Target message: A company’s target message speaks the most for the brand. It is the only thing that can help the brand penetrate in the market if conveyed rightly. The problem may arise when they are translated. They may sometimes convey the wrong idea to the public and the audience starts questioning the brand. A professional translation agency can save the brand’s image by conveying the exact same message in every language.


  • The media: A translator must be well aware of the culture and sentiments of the people of the area in whose language the message is being translated. A phrase translated in another language may leave a negative impression on the public as the meaning might change. Ford lost its customers in Belgium because it used an improper message. It wanted to highlight the excellent manufacturing of the car by saying “Every car has a high-quality body.” However, when translated, the slogan read, “Every car has a high-quality corpse” – far from the image they were hoping to cite.


  • Legal concerns: In some countries, the product name and its labelling has to be translated in another language to abide by the law. For instance in Quebec, Canada every business name and sign has to be printed in French unless it is officially registered with IPO. Thus, every company has to make sure that the information labelled is apt and makes sense when read in another language.


  • Use of metaphors and idioms: businesses usually use linguistic devices such as metaphors and idioms for creating taglines or slogans. It may add to the attractiveness of the brand but becomes a challenge when translated. Those idioms may not make sense in another language. So, the brand has to come up with striking phrases in the second language too in order to retain the brand’s engagement.


  • Picture and video selection: Dolce & Gabbana shared a series of ads on social media in which a Chinese woman attempted to eat Italian food with chopsticks while a male voice gave her directions. The ad received a lot of denunciation and Chinese consumers threatened to boycott the brand. This example signifies that international expansion is not easy. Careful selection of media is highly important or your brand may lose its credibility within seconds.


Challenges always come with solutions. When businesses aware what not to do, here are the things they must do to avoid any miscommunication:


  • Transcreation and not translation: merely translating the words is never recommended. In most cases, the meanings differ and ultimately spoil the brand image. Every business must practice transcreation which means the message must be adopted in the other language with its intent, tone, style and context remaining intact.


  • Work review: It is a high recommended practice for every business to follow. The work   translated must be reviewed twice or even thrice by different individuals to assure the meaning of the original message is preserved. Even a minor error can make a major impact. A little time invested in reviewing the task can save the company’s image forever.


  • Use universal symbols: one of the challenges mentioned above stated the use of phrases and idioms.  A company who has a customer base in many countries must try to use universal symbols that every country uses and there is no space for objection. This reduces the threat to your brand image to a great extent.


  • No time or budget constraints: The money spent on translation marketing is an investment. Expert translators can prove very beneficial to the company by creating high quality translations that attract the potential customers. Even reiweing the task is required no matter how much time it takes. So, a company must devote fair time and money towards it.

About the author

Rana Hamodah

As a migrant to Canada, Rana understands the challenges newcomers face and how access to information can help ease the transition.

Her two Bachelors of Arts in Linguistics and Literature and Translation paired with her Masters in Education and her candidacy for a Ph.D. in Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy (EDD) at the university of British Columbia make her uniquely qualified in ethnocultural communications. She is a Commissioner for Oath and can administer oaths and take, receive, and attest affidavits, affirmations and declarations. Currently, she is also pursuing her Immigration Consultant Certificate.