We have discussed before just how important localisation is to business success, using the tasty example of burgers. By giving your business a local flavour, no matter how big you are, you can attract more customers to peruse your menu. Just ask the McDonald’s Corporation, which tailors its menu for each country it operates in.

However, the flipside to localisation is when a product is inextricably linked to a particular culture. In this case, part of the allure for customers is the exotic image they have of this product. For example, a croissant immediately brings to mind breakfast at a Parisian pavement café, but it would probably lack this continental flavour if it was renamed a “puff pastry curl” for the British market. Similarly, “vinegared rice squares” don’t sound nearly as tasty as sushi.

Despite this, British department store Debenhams announced last month it is getting rid of the Italian names of its coffees and replacing them with English ones. The store said 70 per cent of its customers got confused when asked what coffee they would like at cafes and restaurants.

As a result, from now on people visiting Debenhams cafes will be able to order a “chocolate flavoured coffee” rather than a caffe mocha, a “frothy coffee” instead of a cappuccino, and a “really really milky coffee” as oppose to a caffe latte.

While some companies strive to localise their services and products, others tend to universalise. This is especially true when it comes to brand and product names. One of these is Mondelēz, which was unveiled as the new name of Kraft Foods this year. The name is derived from the Latin word for world, “mundus”, and a term used to describe something as delicious, “delez”.

Unfortunately, the news was greeted with much scepticism. For one, most customers would not understand the Latin meaning, while for another it could be tricky for some to pronounce. In addition, all the brand loyalty attached to the name Kraft is lost. One of the main criticisms levied at Mondelēz by some commentators was that, depending on how it was pronounced, it sounded like the Russian term for a sex act.

This is the problem with attempting to come up with universal brand names and slogans – they need to work in so many languages and cultures it’s almost an impossible task to find one that is truly universal. As managing director at Landor Associates Allen P Adamson, talking to The New York Times about the decision to adopt the name Mondelēz, says: “Their lawyers will have immediately eliminated 97 per cent of the names they came up with because they were already taken.

“[Finding] a name is no longer a creative exercise, which is why most names today sound like they were created by a computer program. This one, in fact, almost sounds real.”

A perfect example of adopting universal names and slogans being a risk is that of US computer firm Wang Laboratories. Anyone reading this blog post in the UK will immediately know why its slogan “Wang cares” was never going to translate well to a British market.

Transcription Global is a firm believer in the power of localisation when it comes to boosting business. That’s why our translation services are built around this concept.

When you choose us to provide you with a translation, we will select a qualified translator who speaks your target language as their mother tongue. We will also ensure that this translator is based in the country where your target language is spoken. By doing this, you can be sure that the person we assign your work to will take into account the local culture, customs and vocabulary of your target market.

Check out our translation services and put localisation at the core of your business growth strategy.

Image credits: zoonabar, Cut Them Coupons & dmangust