Awareness is not Enough


Photo from 8tracks – Pinterest

Have you ever been driving and then you see a billboard on the road that says they speak Spanish? Well, it is wonderful that companies nowadays are more aware of the importance of letting customers know that the service they provide is also available in another language, whether it is the product itself or the customer service they provide. However, awareness of such importance is not enough.

It is vital to present your company or yourself as professional as possible. Nevertheless, it is annoying, for lack of a better word, to see that companies try to inform the customers that they provide services in another language in the wrong way. The other day I was driving and saw a billboard advertising a financial product when I noticed that they wrote in a huge text bubble: “Se Hablo Espanol!”. For those of you who speak Spanish or are Spanish translators, it is extremely evident that there are serious grammatical mistakes, and for those of you who don’t speak Spanish the correct way(s) to write it should be “¡Se habla español!” or even “¡Hablamos español!”. It might be a small line that maybe at the end still makes its point, but the reality is that it won’t do it for everyone and as a company or independent entrepreneur you want to get as many customers as possible, right? I mean, isn’t that what advertising is all about?

That is why awareness is not enough! Companies need to understand that consumers who speak another language are proud of their heritage, language included. Therefore, to me as a translator (and even if I weren’t) it is frustrating to see that many companies only respect the financial opportunities they have in the foreign language market but they don’t think about how important it is for customers to feel they are being respected when it comes to their language. Think about it… If you were to read an advertisement that said: “Im lovin its” you’d probably think twice before buying their product (or burgers). The same holds true with translation in advertisement. When consumers see advertising that doesn’t really address their language needs in a professional way, then it is likely that they will wonder how bad their products and customer service are.

So if you are thinking about expanding your market to other countries, or even nationally addressing people who don’t speak English, from a marketing and branding strategic standpoint it is essential to invest in translation. Don’t just tell whomever you know or a random employee who speaks another language to “translate” something for you. Invest in quality! It is worth it and you will see that brand awareness and marketing initiatives will provide the results that you expected, or perhaps even exceed them.

Have you ever run into a translation sacrilege in advertising like that one? If you have, we would love to hear your story!


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