International Brands: What is Lost in Translation

Does a brand have the same style, tone, or context across continents? Read and learn what can be lost in translation for international brands.

Some of the biggest brands we know in the US are also the most successful brands across the globe. This includes Downy, Sprite, Palmolive, and more.

What does it take to become an international brand? What do international brands have to consider that local and national brands don’t?

You shouldn’t use the exact same marketing techniques from one country to the next. If you do, a lot is going to be lost in translation.

Read on to learn more about what might get lost in translation if international brands aren’t mindful about marketing.

Cultural Imagery

We’ve all heard the idiom, a picture is worth a thousand words. However, those words may change from culture to culture! In other words, your imagery may not resonate the same way in one country as it will in another.

Take, for example, imagery that is meant to signify the “American dream.” You’re probably picturing the white picket fence, the two cars in the driveway, a nuclear family, and even a dog or two.

In another country, the concept of success may produce different types of imagery. In fact, things like suburbia may not resonate at all. 

Whether you’re choosing photos for your online content or putting together a TV advertisement, it’s best to get specific. Pull from content that bears the right significance in the nation you’re using it in.


What is perhaps the biggest thing that will get lost in translation when building an international brand? Language. That’s right, you need to be very aware of the actual translation of language.

Most languages do not translate as precisely as you may think. In fact, some of the biggest corporations have found that out the hard way when innocuous slogans became absurd and even offensive in other languages!

Make sure that you don’t use direct translations in your international marketing. If you want to reach international audiences, you need to work with international marketing specialists.  


Marketing isn’t just about content. One of the key steps to brand marketing stems from your ability to communicate with consumers. If you’re taking your brand global, how are you going to communicate with overseas audiences?

Language barriers aren’t the only thing you need to consider. You also have to remember the significant time differences across the globe. 

This is where outsourcing becomes key. International brands may set up call centers around the globe. They may also rely on global tech companies to generate AI technology that can accommodate different languages. 

International Brands Require Culture-Specific Marketing

Building an international brand doesn’t just mean opening up sales overseas and calling it a day. International brands have to come up with individual marketing plans that speak to different cultures across the globe. If you’re relying on one marketing plan worldwide, your message will get lost in translation!

Looking for more business advice? Take a look at the business and finance section for how-to’s, industry news, and the latest tips to improve your business, big or small. 


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About Marc Wallace

I'm never too busy to share my passion. I've created this page to help people learn more about business, finance and real estate. Besides all the serious stuff, I'm also a man that values family and healthy relationships. I hope you find my content insightful.

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