If you’re a business owner and plan on expanding overseas or selling your product in a different country, here’s a piece of advice: Make sure to higher a knowledegable translator! Sometimes your company slogan, catchphrase or quote can have a meaning radically different than it may have in it’s native country and can often have negative connotations in the country you’re instituting it. Here are a few notable companies that when expanding overseas didn’t exactly have their translations go as well as planned………..
Coke in China originaly rendered the name Ke-kou-ke-la, but when coke found out following their distribution of thousands of pamphlets advertising their product that Ke-Kou-Ke-La had a meaning of “bite the wax tadpole” in chinese dialect, they quickly they changed their Chinese motto!
Similarly, rival softdrink maker Pepsi erred when debuting their product in Taiwan. In Taiwan, the translation of Pepsi’s slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” turned out to be “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”
Lastly, my favorite mistranslation was Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux’s mistranslation of their leading Scandinavian advertising slogan. When expanding to the US, the company failed to investigate the English meaning of their catchphrase which translated in English to “Nothing Sucks like Electrolux!”
Hey Coke, Pepsi and Electrolux – before you expand again here are some words of wisdom: Do your homework!