The Importance of Language Localization for Marketing Material

The first time I heard about the concept of localization was many years ago while studying Spanish at University. A friend of mine from Spain was telling me about his own experience, and a big joke among the Spanish people. It was the Ford Nova.

What a great brand, right? Nova, in English, means a powerful explosion of light and energy. It’s romantic, exciting, and enervating—everything you want in the name of a new model car. You can imagine yourself bursting forth, swooping around turns, streaking along the highway, in your new Ford Nova. The marketing was all along those lines. Bright colors, speed, energy, and excitement, and it was doing very well in the US.

But they brought the Nova to Spain and in Spain, “No va” means doesn’t run, or doesn’t go. 

In other words, Ford named their new model quite literally: “Ford doesn’t go” or “Ford doesn’t run”. 

Can you imagine what happened the first time one of them had mechanical troubles? What that phone call to the tow truck must have been like? 

“My ‘Ford doesn’t run’ isn’t running. Can you help?”

It’s a mistake marketers can even make in their own language. I remember around the same time at college another friend of mine had a Sprint POS cell phone that also never worked. The joke became, “what a POS”. That means piece of sh**, by the way.

You can imagine, if highly paid, well-qualified marketing executives at Sprint made this mistake, how much easier it is to make a mistake when translating to a foreign language. The Spanish-speaking executives at Ford never even stopped to think about what Nova might mean in their own language because they were so busy thinking about what it means in English. It’s just the way the human mind works sometimes, we fixate on one side of things and forget to step back to think about other angles that we may have been ignoring before.

The goal of language localization is to be careful and very deliberate about how we deal with this potential for disaster. We proactively think through all possible connotations, by studying the language and the culture. You want your marketing content to be effective and impactful in the way that you intended, showing your new audience how great your product or service is, telling them how much it can make their lives better and solve problems. Even one small mistake can defeat all the energy, not to mention the time and money you put into your marketing effort. This is why language localization is so important.

At Capital Typing, our language localization services are supported by highly qualified linguists who are knowledgeable not only in translation but also in marketing and cultural considerations that go into crafting effective content. We will break down your marketing strategy, branding, and terminology used throughout your marketing material, and analyze it deeply in the original language first. Then our team of linguists will take care of translation not just of words, but of concepts, bearing in mind all the possible connotations and cultural implications of the phrasing used. 

There are dozens of examples like the two I mentioned above. Big, successful organizations that completely fumbled their entry into new markets because they didn’t take the time to do proper language localization analysis. Let Capital Typing ensure that your language localization is done right and your transition into new foreign language markets is a success.