Lost in Translation

I’ve just returned from New York Auto Show, where Torque was supporting the launch of the new Jaguar XF.


Sawing a car in half for the reveal, as in this picture, was the fun part (though not without its challenges, of course!).


Even trickier than that was creating the content for all the supporting briefings, for the media.


It made me appreciate that there’s really no such thing as a global product – only global brands.


It doesn’t matter whether it’s a car, a Mars bar or a T-shirt.  Localisation is needed.


It might have the same logo on the outside, but inside, it’s a different story.


I don’t even mean the minefield of legal requirements, for international sales.


More fundamentally – how does it taste, fit, or look?  What do people want out of it?


Remember the recent uproar from British expats in America when they could no longer get British Cadbury’s chocolate? Makers Hershey decided it would confuse customers, because it tasted different… (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-31120182)?


That’s localisation.


Brands are stretching ever more across national boundaries, but the need to keep to local tastes is undiminished.


And communication needs to be on the same basis.


Back to the car and the way we had to tailor its presentation, to different nationalities.  What’s important to them?


For Europeans, CO2 efficiency is the main message, because that’s how our car tax systems work…


For Americans, this is totally irrelevant.  They want to know about its performance, its all-wheel drive system.  Very few buy diesel cars and even their gallons are a different size…


For Chinese, the rear space and tech is important, because if you’re rich enough to afford an imported luxury car, you’re rich enough to afford the driver to go with it…  everything else comes second.


Before you even get to translating your words into other languages, you need to consider translating your message, to the audience.


Content and communications need to be localised, as much as the products you’re talking about.


So, if you need to speak to a global audience, be prepared to talk local.


Or if you want an easier life, stick to sawing cars in half…

apr global