Language and international advertising

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The importance of advertising can hardly be overemphasised in the competitive environment we live in today. No matter what the field may be, whether it is education, health care or the latest fashions, a large part of business success seems to hinge on advertising wizardry. Geographical boundaries are fast disappearing, allowing for exponential business growth across continents. In this scenario, language translation services occupy a niche segment in the services industry today.

Surprisingly enough, when it comes to cross-cultural advertising, the implications of effective translation services and localization of advertising content is not that well understood. Somewhere along the way, companies falter in choosing product names or marketing slogans. The impact is felt much later and at great expense to the company, that the marketing spiel is not well received by the target audience owing to a simple slip up in the advertising effort.

A 1985 study consumer behaviour covering diverse markets like the U.S., Quebec and Korea, highlighted that there are important differences in the reasons why consumers in these countries buy similar products. The reasons are steeped in the respective cultures. The buying of wine, for example, highlights the cultural differences very well. In most countries of northern Europe, wine is considered as a drink for special occasions. In many Southern European countries, however, it is an everyday drink. To use the same marketing terminology for the same product in both regions would be a marketing mistake. Language translation services, when used in the field of advertising, must take these factors into account. Otherwise, it would mean that a lot of money spent on advertising, would just be going down the drain.

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