What’s in a name? The Global Translating Challenge

In an article for M&M Global, Locaria’s Founder Hannes Ben discusses Performance Linguistics and how using the wrong language or losing the meaning through poor translation, punctuation or tone of voice can be a costly mistake for marketers worldwide, with a focus on the Canadian, Chinese and Middle Eastern markets.




Target audiences notice faux pas immediately, the impact of the words gets lost and the brand’s image damaged. Depending on the region, consumers could be seriously offended, while website traffic, store visits and ultimately sales will be lower.

In an important market like China there are characters to use, while luckily most brands can get away with using standard Chinese across this vast country. However, if you use the terms, sentence structure and character set of Mainland China in Hong Kong you may cause considerable discontent amongst the Cantonese audience.

The Middle East is another tricky area for brands when it comes to managing online campaigns.

Shoppers in Saudi Arabia will use different words and sentence structure than those in Egypt or Lebanon in their daily conversations. If you talk to consumers in that region in an informal environment, such as in social community management, with the wrong spoken variant –the problem will not necessarily be just that you annoy them but instead they may simply not understand your message.

Brands must be aware of these differences and invest in combining native linguistic skills with strong knowledge of online marketing – what we call Performance Linguistics. A failure to do this will leave consumers annoyed or bewildered and unlikely to spend their money.


Read the full feature on M&M Global.