Did you ever think that a translation mishap could turn your global brand into a laughingstock?

Many companies have stumbled into embarrassing gaffes while attempting to adapt their slogans, messages, or even names to other languages and cultures, often provoking fits of giggles or raised eyebrows from consumers. In this article, we’re here to tickle your funny bone with examples of translation blunders you should steer clear of if you want to maintain a credible and quality reputation as a global brand.

One of the classic blunders is the overly literal translation, where the context, tone, and word connotations get lost in translation. For instance, the iconic fast-food giant, KFC, had to switch gears with their slogan “Finger lickin’ good” in China because their initial translation essentially said, “Eat your fingers” (literally). Likewise, Chevrolet launched their Nova model in Latin America without realizing that “no va” means “it doesn’t go” in Spanish – not exactly a ringing endorsement for a car!

Then, there’s the all-too-common lack of cultural adaptation, where the rich tapestry of different values, customs, and beliefs in various audiences gets overlooked. Take the case of the Pampers diaper brand, who adorned their African market packs with an image of a stork carrying a baby, blissfully unaware that in that region, storks have nothing to do with delivering babies. And who can forget the beer brand Coors, blithely using the slogan “Turn it loose” in Spain, oblivious to the fact that this phrase is commonly used to refer to… well, let’s just say “tummy troubles.”

These gaffes are just a tiny sampling of how translation missteps can turn your international brand image into a comedy of errors. So, if you’re keen on avoiding these linguistic pitfalls and want to convey your message with finesse and panache, our tip is simple: recruit a digital marketing and copywriting expert, someone who knows how to navigate the linguistic twists and cultural turns with dexterity. With their help, you can tap into a broader audience, cultivate trust, and solidify your reputation as a global brand that knows how to keep it lost in translation – in a good way!