Should You Translate Your Brand Name? 

Pollion Team

Taking your business to the global market is an exciting time. But before you make that big jump, there are some things to consider, such as your brand name. You put a lot of energy, thought, and money into choosing your brand name. Your brand name has become recognized in your home country and it resonates with your customers. But is your brand name ready to go into new markets? 

Most brand names must be translated when reaching global markets. Not taking this step can result in major marketing mistakes. Your business needs to translate its brand name and marketing materials to appeal to new target markets. 

What is a Brand Name & Why Is It Important? 

Brand names are important because customers use these names to identify a business and its products. The brand name, the logo design, marketing materials, and more have a direct impact on a customer’s decision to buy a product. Brand recognition is crucial to your business, its products & services, and more. A brand name represents the qualities and values held by an organization. 

An organization uses a brand name for specific products and services. The name may be similar to the company name or be based on the names of the founders, etc. The purpose of the brand name is to raise customer awareness, create a stronger identity, and encourage brand loyalty. 

What is Brand Name Translation?  

Brand name translation is a part of business localization. The idea is to use the brand’s original content while localizing it to a different culture to break down cultural and language barriers. The process is used when a business decides to expand into global markets. 

These are the reasons and goals for brand name translation; however, many companies make mistakes when translating their brand names into other languages. 

Examples of Brand Name Translation Gone Wrong

Here are some examples of brand name translations that didn’t go as planned for their companies: 

Gerber Baby Food

Gerber is a well-known baby food manufacturer in the US. Their products have always been well received; however, the company decided to expand its reach into the French baby food market. 

The problem was Gerber chose not to localize their brand name. In French, “Gerber” sounds similar to the French slang word for “vomit.” As you can imagine, French parents didn’t want to feed their babies food that would make them sick! 

IKEA’s Workbench

IKEA is a famous Swedish furniture company that sells a broad range of home products. The company usually uses Swedish names for each of its products. This wasn’t usually a problem, especially since the company is known to have a Swedish background. 

However, IKEA developed a nice workbench on wheels, making it easy to use in any room of a house. They gave this workbench the Swedish name “Fartfull,” which meant something like a fast vehicle with wheels. Unfortunately, they didn’t consider the name for the US market! 

Parker Pens

When Parker Pens took their leak-proof pens to the Spanish market, they wanted to use the slogan, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” However, someone tried translating the slogan into Spanish, but it didn’t go well. The slogan in Spanish said, “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.” 

These are some fun examples of brand name translation and marketing materials that didn’t do well. Of course, these products were not successful in their new markets. This is why you want to correctly translate your brand name and marketing materials into the target market’s language. 

Should You Translate Your Brand Name? 

The short answer is yes! It’s essential to translate your brand name, product, and marketing materials. Otherwise, your products may not have an excellent reception in the target market. 

Do You Translate the Names of Organizations? 

The decision to translate the names of an organization depends on various factors, including the organization’s goals, target audience, and the cultural context of the target markets. 

Whether an organization’s name should be translated depends on the specific circumstances and goals of the organization. A thoughtful, well-researched approach that takes into consideration cultural, linguistic, legal, and strategic factors is necessary while making this decision. 

For these reasons, we highly recommend involving native speakers and/or a professional translation agency familiar with the local market. You can then rest assured that the translated name is appropriate and resonates positively with the target audience. 

How Does the Brand Name Relate to the Product?  

The brand name is an essential element in the identity and marketing of a product or service. The name serves as the identifier for the specific product/service, and it works on shaping customers’ perceptions and attitudes toward it. 

Here are the ways a brand name relates to a product: 

Identification and Differentiation 

A brand name helps customers identify and recognize the product or service. The name elevates the product or service above similar products. The brand name becomes a unique identifier, improving customer recall and loyalty. 

The brand name also lets customers know why this product is better than others that are similar. 

Brand Image & Perception 

The brand name also contributes to a product’s image. When correctly crafted, the brand name can evoke certain emotions, values, or qualities associated with the specific product. 

In addition, customers form their perceptions of a product based on the brand name. For instance, a name that speaks of quality and reliability can help customers see the product as trustworthy. 

Communicate Values & Attributes

The brand name can also communicate crucial information about a product, such as its qualities, benefits, and values. This may help customers quickly decide to buy that product over others in a crowded market. 

Memorability & Recognition 

A memorable brand name can also improve customer recall. Recall is essential for building brand awareness and enhancing customer loyalty. 

Your product/service brand name is essential to the success or failure of your product, whether in your home country or when reaching out to new global markets. For these reasons and to find success, it’s crucial to ensure your brand name is localized correctly. 

Tips to Avoid Brand Name Translation Mistakes

We’ve compiled some tips to help you avoid brand name translation mistakes. By following these tips, you can prevent unintended cultural and linguistic mistakes. Here are our recommendations to help you through the process of brand name translation: 

Conduct Research

The first step to translating a brand name is to research the linguistic and cultural nuances of the target market. You’ll understand how words can be interpreted in different languages and regions. 

Local Languages & Dialects

Is your brand considering entering a market that has multiple languages and dialects? If so, ensure that the brand name has no negative connotations or awkward meanings in any of those languages. 

Test the Name with Native Speakers

Once you have a potential brand name, it’s time to get feedback from native speakers or local experts. They can help you understand how the brand name will be perceived. Native speakers can also offer guidance and insights into any unintended meanings or other associations that could cause cultural issues. 

Understand Cultural Sensitivities

It’s essential to be aware of cultural sensitivities and taboos. Certain words or symbols may have different meanings in various cultures and languages. The goal is to avoid unintentional offence and ensure your brand is well-accepted in the new market. 

Verify Trademark Availability

Before your brand name can be finalized, it’s necessary to check for trademark availability in the target market. You can avoid legal issues and ensure that your brand name can be protected. 

Be Mindful of Pronunciation 

You’ll also need to consider how your brand name will be pronounced in different languages. Some sounds or combinations of sounds may be too challenging for speakers of certain languages. This could lead to mispronunciation and unintended meanings. 

Avoid Acronyms and initials with Hidden Meanings

If your brand name uses initials or acronyms, be sure they are not inadvertently spelling out words or phrases that could be inappropriate or offensive in the local language. 

Test with a Focus Group

You may also want to consider conducting focus groups in the target market. Focus groups help gather feedback on the brand name. You can then identify any potential issues and ensure the name resonates positively with the local audience. 

Monitor Social Media & Online Presence

Once your product is on the market, it’s essential to monitor social media and online platforms to see how the target audience receives and interprets the brand name. Make sure to address any concerns or misunderstandings promptly. 

Brand Name Translation: How to Find Success

Unless you have an in-house translation and localization department, the best way to avoid issues with your brand name is to hire a professional translation agency. But why? 

A translation agency offers the expertise and knowledge to translate your brand name and marketing materials correctly and successfully. A professional translation company has a translation process in place that can help you with brand name translation, cultural values, and more for each target market. 

A translation company, such as Pollion, can assist you in navigating the complexities of translating your brand name, ensuring your brand’s image is effectively communicated across different languages and cultures. 

Concluding Thoughts

Brand name translation is crucial if your business wants to expand into global markets. It encompasses cultural sensitivity, legal compliance, communication effectiveness, and the establishment of trust. These are all essential for a brand’s success in our increasingly connected world. 

We highly recommend hiring a professional translation agency, like Pollion, to ensure your brand name and all marketing materials are correctly translated and localized for your target markets. 

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