Is Your Business Getting Lost in Translation?

At Polaron, we live and breathe translation and can’t help but cast our critical eye over airport signs, advertisements and cafe menus whenever we travel internationally. We’ve all seen those hilarious translation fails, right? You know, the “execution in progress”, “beware of slippy” or “our estimated clients” type of mis-translation. Yes, they are funny but have you ever wondered what damage they might do to business? Would their owners laugh if they knew that their image, sales or brand are being affected? Or would they sit up and listen?

Like many business travellers, we read airline magazines during long plane journeys. What else is there to do whilst being stuck on a long-haul flight? Most inflight magazines managed to survive in today’s digital media landscape. Whilst on-board WiFi is slowly being implemented by various airlines, it will be a while yet before this technology is fully rolled out. Whilst inflight magazines will eventually be replaced by their digital counterparts, for now paper versions are here to stay.

Many prestigious, high end brands pay top dollar for the privilege of being put in front of savvy, affluent business travellers. Advertising in inflight magazines is expensive precisely because the passengers’ attention is exclusively captured for the duration of the flight. According to Ink Global, an advertising and media company, 97% of air travellers read their inflight magazines for more than 25 minutes per flight. Qantas’ inflight magazine is read by 442,000 people monthly. The average reader is male, 47 years old and has a personal income of $122,990. The smallest advertisement in the magazine starts at $35,000. Advertising in Cathay Pacific, for example, is less expensive at $30,000 for a full colour page. Annually, their inflight magazine reaches over 1,87 million passengers.

But no matter how much effort your brand puts into designing your collateral, developing your visuals and writing your copy, unless your translation is accurate and sells as well as your English original, you stand to lose money and face. At best your intended audience will laugh, at worst your brand may become irreparably damaged. Something to think about during your next flight.

More about how translations should be done.