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Purchasing power means more opportunities for businesses, but it also means that we must know our new prospect clients and their culture. Translation of an organization’s literature is possibly the most direct way of reaching that niche. Taking into account the cultural awareness factor when you have marketing material translated is imperative. Otherwise, the whole purpose of a publicity campaign may be defeated. Here are some examples of how literal translations without taking into account the audience’s culture have undermined the purpose:

The vacuum cleaner

An European vacuum cleaner manufacturer used the following slogan on the launching of a new product in the US: “nothing sucks like …(name of product)”. Even though the verb “to suck” was grammatically correct in this context, it bears a very negative meaning in American slang.

The airline

When one of the leading US airlines wanted to introduce its new leather seats to first-class travelers in the Mexican market, a literal translation of the slogan “fly in leather” came up as “vuele en cuero”, which in Spanish slang means “fly naked”.

The beer

A renown beer company used a literal translation of its slogan in English “turn it loose”. The message obtained in Spanish gave the impression that the company was advertising for strong diarrhea.

Like the above examples, there are thousands more. Even global organizations commit cultural mistakes that cost them millions of dollars they could have saved, had they done some cross-cultural research. Along with the language comes the culture. Always seek a professional translation consultant, able to perceive these cultural nuances.

The Importance of Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness is increasingly becoming an important factor in business success. Companies need to understand the culture and values of their customers in order to effectively reach their target markets. Understanding a customer’s culture helps businesses to tailor their messages and products to better meet their needs. Companies need to ensure that their marketing materials are accurately translated and that their messages are culturally appropriate.

Effective cultural awareness requires more than just literal translation. Companies need to consider the cultural context of their target markets and ensure that their messages are accurately translated and culturally appropriate. This means taking into account the cultural expectations and values of their target customers and tailoring their messages accordingly. Companies also need to ensure that their marketing materials are easy to understand and relevant to their target customers.

To ensure effective cultural awareness, companies should consider hiring a professional translation consultant. A professional translator can provide expert advice on how to accurately and effectively translate marketing materials, taking into account the cultural context of the target market. They can also provide advice on how to tailor products and services to better meet the needs of their customers.

Finally, companies need to ensure that their marketing and communication efforts are in line with their customers’ cultural values and expectations. This means understanding and respecting the history, values, and beliefs of their target markets. Companies need to be aware that their messages may be interpreted differently in different cultures, and they should strive to ensure that their messages are culturally sensitive and respectful.

Cultural awareness is essential for any business aiming to effectively reach its customers. Companies need to understand the cultural context of their target markets and ensure that their messages, products, and services are tailored accordingly.

They should consider hiring a professional translation consultant to ensure that their marketing materials are accurately translated and culturally appropriate.

Finally, companies should strive to ensure that their messages are respectful and culturally sensitive. By taking these steps, companies can ensure that their communication and marketing efforts are successful and profitable.

By Andreina Ojeda, M.A. Modern Languages ​​and M.A. International Studies.
President and Founder of Lingua Language Center at Broward College.