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In another blog post, we talked about unfortunate mistranslations. Do you remember these?

China translated KFC’s “finger-licking good” tagline to “eat your fingers off”.

IKEA introduced a workbench named “Fartfull”. It may mean “full speed” in Swedish, but…

Nokia’s launch of the Lumia phone line made quite the impression in Spanish-speaking countries where Lumia means–wait for it–prostitute.

To avoid these types of mishaps, we have some ideas on how to launch your product in a country that doesn’t speak your language. This way your messaging won’t be lost in translation.

Rule No. 1: Leave plenty of time for the translation team to do its job. Creative marketing agencies are known for their frenetic pace and intense deadlines, and if the only language you’re dealing with is your native one, then carry on. You’ve got it under control. But, when your campaign needs to be translated into a foreign language, be sure to leave ample time for the translators to convey your message accurately and succinctly, and without unintended meanings like the ones we mentioned earlier.

Rule No. 2: You may love the graphics you’ve created for your English language campaign, but if the translators suggest changing colors or images, do it. Do no balk! Let’s consider the color red for a moment. In some cultures, red represents purity, joy and celebration, and is a color traditionally worn by brides; in others, it’s a color associated with romance and sex. In China, red means good luck and prosperity, in South Africa it represents mourning, and in Russia, it’s associated with communism. See what we mean?

Rule No. 3: If you have a style/branding guide for your English-language materials, be sure to make it available to your translators so that the “voice” of your product or campaign is heard loud and clear, in the foreign language as well.

Rule No. 4: Sometimes, you’ll need to ensure that what you’ve written in English will play well in another English-speaking region or country. Dialects and colloquialisms vary greatly across America, which means that there will be times when English language materials will need tweaking to make sense to a local audience.

Translating marketing documents ranks in the top three when it comes to difficulty, alongside medical and legal documents. When you work with a professional translator, they should be able to provide you with the high-quality translations you require. They should also be highly educated, qualified in specialized fields, and able to work brilliantly in a pressure-cooker situation.

At Metafraze, we can help. Just ask us how. You can call us at (801) 471-0417.