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Are Your Business Signs Getting Lost in Translation?

Does your business signage reflect the diversity of your community?

In cities across America, they’re more and more becoming melting pots of many cultures. Even in places where you’d least expect it, people are communicating I many different languages besides English and Spanish.

In Oregon, for instance, is home to over 120 languages. About 25,000 people there speak Vietnamese, and 21,000 speak Russian. About half of these folks are fluent in English.

If you want to attract as many customers to your business as possible. In order to do so, your business signage can be a useful tool to help customers relate to your business right away. They’ll trust you as long as you get the translations right. Otherwise, you’ll look foolish.

Read on to find out how your business signage translations can help your business.  

It’s Important to Get Translations Right

The whole purpose behind having business signs in multiple languages is to attract more customers to your business.

Have you ever been to an ethnic restaurant and they get the translations on the menu wrong? They may have the best of intentions, but it doesn’t quite work. Since you have much stronger experience with the English language, they may come across as uneducated.

The same way we have negative perceptions of people who speak with foreign accents, we have negative perceptions of people who can’t get the written language right. 

That’s true across languages. In other words, you don’t get the translation right, you’ll create the wrong impression of your business.

What does that mean for your business? You could be losing customers instead of gaining them because your business signage didn’t translate into big business. 

Massive Business Translation Fails

Business is truly international. There are companies that have a presence throughout the world. With that global presence comes the need to integrate their company within their new culture.

Finger Lickin’ Good?

In the 1980s, China began to open its doors to American businesses. One of the first businesses to wade into the Chinese market was KFC. While KFC’s product might be Finger Lickin’ Good, it didn’t translate that well in Chinese. Instead, it was “We’ll eat your fingers off.”

What Does That Beer Do?

Coors Brewing made a lasting impression when it launched in Spain. In the U.S. it had a popular advertising campaign with the tag line “Turn it Loose.” Turn it loose doesn’t really have a direct translation in Spanish and convey the same meaning. The closest the folks at Coors could get was “Suffer from diarrhea.”

How Does a Chicken Get Pregnant?

Who can forget Frank Purdue’s face on TV screens saying it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken. Well, someone didn’t get that point across when they launched a similar ad campaign in Mexico. Apparently, that translates to “It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused.” Another version of the translation was “It takes a virile man to make a chicken pregnant.”

How to Get Your Business Signage Translations Right

While it’s reassuring to know that even the mightiest companies with millions in marketing budgets get it wrong.

However, these fails emphasize the need to get the business translations on your signs right. You don’t want to be the laughing stock of your neighborhood!

You might think that Google Translate will solve those problems. It will help translate some things correctly, but it doesn’t understand the nuances of languages. Let’s put it this way, there’s a hashtag for Google fails for a reason. It’s #GoogleTranslateFails if you want a good laugh.

How do you translate your business signage? Before you do anything, you have to take a few things into consideration. Translating business signage is another form of marketing. You’re simply communicating a message about your company and why people should work with your business instead of someone else.

With that in mind, you want to treat this like creating a marketing plan.

The first thing is to understand who you’re translating for. That’s your target audience.

You’ll need to revisit what your business is about. In other words, what’s the mission and vision of your business? You need to communicate why your business is unique from your competition.

Reflect the Values of Your Audience

Does your business reflect the values of the culture you’re targeting? The most successful businesses that work with a diverse population are able to build a brand across cultures. There are some things that are universal – love, happiness, and family are just a few examples.

You can easily communicate those values over time and on your business signage, too. When people have shared values, it creates a stronger connection to your business. That will turn into customers that last a lifetime.

When you have all of these pieces in place, you can then hire a company like International Contact Inc. to handle the translations. 

It’s much more reliable to do that rather than risk the embarrassment of another translation fail.              

Translate Your Business Signage Right

Business signage is often a welcoming sight and can bring many customers to your business. With communities becoming more diverse, it’s important to reach out to different ethnicities in your area. You can do that by translating your business signage.

You have to be careful and not rely on something like Google Translate to get the job done. Your best bet is to hire a professional company that can understand the nuances of language.

You’ll come across as professional. Plus, you’re more likely to be trusted by potential customers because you get it right. That trust can lead to a lot of new business for you.

Want more tips to generate new business? Learn how to leverage your website to capture leads and boost sales.