top of page
  • Writer's pictureMaría Palomares Tarí


The process of branding was first developed to help products stand out and to protect them from failure. However, things have changed -- IMAGE is now everything. Today, if the brand image becomes tarnished through a media scandal or a controversial incident, the company can find itself in DEEP trouble.

Translation, as in many other occasions, has a lot to do with that.

When it comes to language and marketing, a little mix-up can be the reason of a badly translated slogan, idea or message, and a huge FAILURE. For that very reason, getting a professional translation services provider can save your company time, money and reputation.

Let’s get a quick insight into some of the biggest marketing translation flops and see what it can be learnt from them.

Brand names can be trickier than it looks. Watch out!

Mercedes-Benz entered the Chinese market under the brand name "Bensi," which means "rush to die." A name of a product or company can sound very cool in one language but be completely the opposite in another. Mercedes-Benz “killer cars” soon rebranded the company name to Benchi, (run quickly as if flying). They got it!

When the catch phrase isn’t so catchy…

Translation traps can play very hard sometimes, especially when linguistics false friends are involved. And if not, ask Parker Pen company with their expansion in Mexico. They mistranslated “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” into “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”. The Spanish “embarazar” may sound similar to ‘embarrass’ but it really means to get somebody pregnant. Oops!

Getting the words right is never enough.

The message is extremely important for brands… and translating it can be very, very tricky. It implies understanding the target culture, and that involves almost every area of life, including politics and religion. Orange, for example, a French mobile network operator entered the Northern Ireland market with its slogan “The future’s bright…the future’s Orange” not considering that the “Orange Order is an international Protestant fraternal order. Then, for Catholics, this slogan meant “The future’s Protestant loyalist”. Not sure if that what the brand meant!

When you take time to understand this diversity, you show RESPECT for other people's cultures, way of life and traditions.

Thus, hiring PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATORS and LOCALIZATION experts to avoid this type of mistakes is essential. They are trained to choose the right words and terms while keeping the intention of the original message because they are also aware of the target market local culture. Never forget, DETAILS make the real difference!


bottom of page