Marketing and Translation: the perfect tandem

The tandem of marketing and translation is crucial in modern business. Surely you’ve heard of Zara? They are the flagship of INDITEX, the world’s leading textile group. But is the giant all-powerful? The answer is no. It’s not because they haven’t thought of marketing and translation as a tandem —or rather as a handy alliance.

Their downfall was simply their lack of cultural awareness.

German users’ opinions of Zara downgraded significantly due to what many would consider a simple translation error. Ignoring the marketing and translation tandem is an error that can turn Europe’s biggest economy against you. Who’s going to want to buy some “slave sandals”?

Translation error: ignoring the target culture

“Slave sandals” were for a while, a must-have for all German fashionistas. Or they would’ve been if they were named differently.

As strange as it may seem, translation and marketing go hand in hand: according to the Collins English Dictionary, a “slave” is “someone who is the property of another person”. Come on, we’ve already spoken about the danger of literal translations, haven’t we?

In German, sklaven-sandalen takes us back to Roman times and considering the social status of slaves, it seems that this isn’t the best name for a product to be sold in a country as politically aware as Germany.

Has no one learned from what happened to Mango a few years ago?


Marketing and translation are the perfect tandem

The blunder was soon corrected by Zara, but the damage had already been done. Their sales in Germany had already been affected. Surely this highlights the importance of having professional translators with expertise in marketing in order to sell your product in foreign markets? Marketing is culture, and culture is language.

In order to successfully expand to international markets, translation professionals who have a thorough knowledge of the target culture and know how to culturally adapt the original content are priceless.

It’s not just about translating; it’s about translating well so as to create a perfect customer experience. The tandem of marketing and translation is an insurance policy that prevents blunders of this magnitude. Even the best of us aren’t spared from embarrassment.

While we’re on the subject of blunders, what do you think of this controversy surrounding Shakira? Let the debate begin!

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

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