Some global brands can change the meaning of words and symbols in their favor, while others can not, but each brand needs the wisdom to know the difference.
In some markets, people read from right to left, not from left to right as we do in English. The results can be comical if marketers, designers, developers, producers or even everyday tattoo aficionados do not understand this and plan accordingly.
Global technology companies including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Adobe, Oracle, Mozilla and IBM do a great job of culturally internationalizing their products. Here are 10 tips we can learn from these companies about cultural adaptation.
When AtTask first launched using the name "@task,” the brand was a clever play on the English pronunciation of "@.” However, the company’s rebrand helps not only in local markets, but also internationally where the symbol poses additional challenges.
Some brand names fall flat with global online customers because marketers have failed to do their homework. However, other companies like Utah-based Overstock.com have created brands specifically so they can succeed in international online markets.
Some hotels make us feel right at home, while others make us feel like we are on another planet. While traveling, we can laugh at quirky mistranslations and learn from great adaptations that show us how to make international clients feel comfortable.
Some companies might think brand names made up of initials actually reduce risk of linguistic blunders in another language because they are devoid of complete words. However, humorous examples prove this perception is far from true.
Why would a German company not want customers to award it a five out of five on surveys? One survey collection and reporting company, Mindshare Technologies, shares how it adapts services to the needs of international clients.
Automatic redirection to the translated version of a website can be very helpful, but only when the website gets it right. When the website guesses wrong, users can quickly become exasperated and leave the website for a competitor.
Here are a few chuckle-worthy examples of why we should take the extra time to do a final proof before making something public. This also unavoidably serves as an invitation for readers to identify every mistake that has ever appeared in this column.
This week, Nike retailers saw unexpected trouble in Ireland after unofficially naming a pair of sneakers after a group with a violent past. Unintentional branding missteps like this are nothing new to the shoe industry.
These are seven columnists and bloggers who write fun and informative articles on international business, marketing, language and culture.
Actors regularly imitate accents in movies and commercials. When do fake accents spell real trouble for international business?
International travelers must be aware that heightened security measures increase the probability idioms, slang expressions and even bad jokes alluding to violence may be misunderstood in the worst possible way, as evidenced by recent arrests.
“If somebody out there in the world wants our product, let them call us.” When international opportunity knocks, some companies answer, but others insist such opportunity beat down company doors and let itself in.
Politicians and marketers have learned this month that racial stereotypes create unwanted backlash, even if the offense is completely unintended.
Companies should probably not take the image of a man who has killed hundreds or thousands of the ancestors of one’s customers and use it in a marketing campaign. Believe it or not, this is the faux pas Mercedes-Benz committed last week.
The customer is always right. Even when customers are “wrong” about the pronunciation of your brand name, they are still right. Here are a few examples of brand names that have adapted their pronunciation to succeed in international markets.
As illustrated by the 2012 Mayan calendar fiasco, intercultural calendar mix-ups happen all the time. From a business perspective, companies must plan for regional holidays, or misreading calendars can spell doomsday for commerce with other cultures.
“Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: Sales and Marketing” is informative, entertaining and arranged in easy-to-read sections profiling twenty countries. As an in-flight read or a handy reference guide, the book is a great gift for any international executive.
When Twitter recently joined forces with Mixi to compete against Facebook in Japan, many asked, “What in the world is Mixi?” International marketers must understand that social media can be very different in other countries.
Politics stirs strong passions, and no brand wants to be the enemy of those passions. As PUMA learned this week in the United Arab Emirates, marketing campaigns in foreign countries are extra risky when tied to political ideas not fully understood.
This holiday shopping season, Toys “R” Us is taking some heat for selling a baby doll whose babbling allegedly includes the ‘B’ word, but this doll is certainly not the only toy to cause commotion because of language problems.
When sales of golf balls and hotel rooms fail miserably in Asian markets, it might be due to numerology, or meaning in numbers. Every number from an address to the number of character strokes in a company name can affect brand success in Asia.
Many books and websites attempt to prepare business travelers for work abroad. Learn bite-sized pointers for business, culture and travel in dozens of cities — and learn on the go — with The Economist’s practical “Doing business in” podcast series.
Nokia’s Lumia brand name may be an obscure Spanish for lady of the night, and Apple’s personal assistant Siri may sound similar to the Japanese word for posterior, but mobile technologies have done much to bring useful translation to our fingertips.
Without the potential for international profit, governments may not be quite as motivated as businesses to provide quality translations to the public. This sometimes means amusing ballot translation blunders must be corrected at taxpayer expense.
Any international traveler will benefit from learning to say the phrase, “Where is the restroom?” However, even when that phrase is mastered, there are sill many more opportunities to commit or avoid awkward intercultural bathroom blunders.
“The California State Legislature is the greatest economic developer Utah could ever hope for,” quips Lew Cramer, founding president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah.
When your school teachers told you to cross your t’s and dot your i’s, they may not have told you that such caution could prevent you from losing millions of dollars in business. Here are some examples of businesses that have not been so fortunate.