To better understand the international marketing best practices as it relates to translating taglines, to help in pressure testing of the brand's tagline and to ensure that keeping it in English will work across markets.
As we dove into background research on this tagline challenge, we gained insights on brands that have translated their taglines in different markets and best practices for translating taglines to local markets. Here are some key pieces of information we found:
Examples of brands that have kept or translated their taglines in different markets
- Audi translated its native tagline “Vorsprung durch Technik” (Advancement Through Technology) into Japanese as 技術による先進, which is a literal translation.
- However, the company hardly uses the Japanese tagline and prefers to use the original German one. This could be a cost saving measure. It also seems to be an intentional marketing decision because the German version produces a positive impression in the market as German technology is highly regarded in Japan. In addition, the Japanese tend to view foreign language as a “decoration” and so the approach is appropriate.
- KFC literally translated its tagline “finger-lickin’ good” to “eat your fingers off” in Chinese, and the translation was a fail.
Best Practices For Translating Taglines to Local Markets
Test the New Tagline Before Launching It
- One best practice for translating taglines to local markets is always to test the tagline before it is fully launched. This minimizes the risk of consumers getting the wrong impression or interpretation of the tagline.
Avoid Back Translation
- Avoid back translation as it can create funny meanings, especially for speakers of a foreign language. For example, the German makeup retailer Douglas used the English tagline, “Come in and find out.” When it was translated back literally, many Germans understood it as meaning “Go in and try to find your way out or don’t get lost.”
Translation requires Excellent knowledge of the target culture
- The t,ranslation of taglines should be done with insight into the culture of the target customers. The translator should know the local culture very well as this will make the translation more accurate and more likely to generate engagement.
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