Global Branding: Translation Tips for Food & Beverage and Hospitality

December 13, 2011

This hospitality localization blog focuses on global branding. Although this is an issue for many industries, it is particularly strategic for the food and hospitality industries. Because your brand is equivalent to your reputation, it is a critical component for establishing long lasting relationships with loyal and profitable customers on a global basis.

I recently read an article that equated foreign markets to children's shoes -- you select a size with plenty of room to grow. Over 95 percent of the world's consumers reside outside the United States, according to recent statistics from the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Those international customers are eagerly awaiting your products and services, including hotels and restaurant service. Global branding and document translation and website localization from your translation services company can be strategic in attaining this goal.

Creating Global Brand Awareness

*Brand awareness is a critical step in expanding your brand globally. You need to make sure that you develop a message that resonates with your potential customers' wants and needs. You also need to ensure that you deliver it thorough the right channels to actually reach those customers.

Your brand is like your reputation: it is built upon first impressions and subsequent customer interactions with your employees, products or services. Advertising/media, personal contact and testimonials from other customers help to further shape or develop your brand. Once a brand is established in a new global market, it can be a reassurance or promise to a consumer that they can expect a certain level of service or satisfaction from your product. In return, these customers will be more willing to pay a premium for a brand name product or service, if it comes from the perceived industry leader or a trusted brand.

Why Localization is Important to Your Global Branding Strategy

Translation and localization helps you to effectively communicate your company's main message or service theme in your potential customer's native language. An effective localized message recognizes the subtleties of the local culture and tradition. Localization helps you to successfully promote your message to targeted global markets and convert more customers for short term and long term revenues.

Items to consider when expanding your brand globally:

*(1) Carefully examine your business or product names. Should you translate or leave them "as is"?

When choosing a name for your business or product, you need to consider cultural sensitivities for targeted global markets. Will the name be offensive if left in English? In other words, does the English name "sound" like something it shouldn't in the target market? We all remember the legend of the Chevy Nova. Poor sales of the US car brand in Spanish markets were directly associated with its English name which in Spanish sounded like "no va" or "no go".

There are some specific considerations for transliteration in the Chinese language. You will find some interesting insights into this topic in our previous blog on "Top 7 Tips for Effective Chinese copywriting."

Make sure your product name make sense to customers in new global markets, both in English and in the target language if you choose to translate it. Starbucks introduced a U.S. holiday favorite, the Gingerbread Latte, to the German market, but discovered that it didn't sell well, despite gingerbread being a favorite holiday cookie in that country. Sales of the drink increased dramatically when Starbucks began using the German word for gingerbread and rebranded the drink, the Lebkuchen Latte.

If you are considering translating your brands, don't use computer generated or machine translation. You may end up with a sub-standard translation that offends potential customers or provides them fodder for ridicule. Work with a language translation services agency with relevant localization expertise, like GPI, who can help make sure you communicate your intended message.

*(2) Give your logo the twice over

Make sure you also review your logo for any words or symbols that could be offensive in a foreign market. You may want to look at the colors used as well, as some colors may have a negative connotation in certain markets. It is also highly advisable that you complete an international search to ensure your logo doesn't resemble that of another international company. For example, if you are conducting business in the some portions of the Middle East, a logo or brand campaign that features the face of a woman might not be appropriate. The best way to understand these cultural sensitivities is to consult a localization expert, like GPI, that can advise on these issues. Your translation agency may have to be highly creative in their use of desktop publishing services to achieve the desired image for your translated logo.

(3) Use the right marketing channels

Make sure your message is being communicated where it will be best seen or heard. For example, don't rely heavily on radio advertisements in new global markets where people commute primarily by bicycle or train. Instead, consider advertising inside the train station or in publications that these commuters read on the train. When reviewing your marketing mix, look at the habits and lifestyle of your potential customer base in your targeted global markets.

(4) Mind your manners

The manner and tone in which you engage your new potential customers is as important as the words you choose. Literal translation can be lethal; it is critical that the essence of your message is translated in an appropriate manner per language and per specific locale. This manner and tone permeates throughout the entire organization, through all of your advertising, web content, and even through your employees' interaction with customers through their sales message and customer support. Remember, this is all a reflection of your brand.

(5) Brand Vigilance

As your brand grows in a market or possibly expands into even more locales, you need to be vigilant in maintaining your brand reputation. Remember that your brand is a promise of a certain quality of product or service. This is especially true in the Food & Beverage and Hotel & Hospitality industries.

Don't let the brand become diluted through an inconsistent message or service from locale to locale. To ensure consistency with food and hospitality translation, GPI uses an effective translation portal and tools to present consistent glossaries and nuanced meaning to teams working on all of your languages.

In branding, one bad customer experience is remembered 10 times longer than one good experience. Online training for your offshore staff can prove to be a wise investment, as can global distribution of translated and localized employee manuals. These steps will help ensure delivery on the promise of your brand, regardless of how rapid your global market growth may be.


Further Resources on Translation Services for Hotels, F&B and Hospitality

GPI has provided extensive language translation services to the F&B and Hospitality industries worldwide. In addition, GPI has developed a user-friendly translation portal that makes it extremely easy for non-technical users in these industries to submit projects for translations.

You will find the links below to some of our services and a blog on global tourism translation issues highly useful:

You may contact GPI at or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions about this market and your project goals. You may also request a complimentary Translation Quote for your project as well.

Hotel and Hospitality Translation
Hotel translation, Document Translation

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Marina is a native Spanish speaker from Rosario, Argentina with over 15 years’ experience as a certified English-Spanish translator and interpreter. She graduated with a dual degree in Technical-Scientific and Literary Translation and Simultaneous and Consecutive Interpreting from the Instituto de Educación Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario. She has extensive experience with most well known CAT tools including the range of SDL tools such as SDL Trados Studio, MultiTerm, Wordfast, SDL Idiom WorldServer, Translation Workspace, XBench, etc. She has also served as a CAT Tool Instructor conducting an average of 50 courses and workshops for many associations, private institutes and conferences. Over the years she has provided Spanish language translation and interpreting for a multitude of translation agencies, Global Fortune 500 companies, Governments and NGO’s. When not working she enjoys traveling, cooking, reading and movies with her family.