Naming a new product or company, or coming up with the perfect tagline or logo is not easy. Even within your home market, you need to consider whether the proposed product name has any other meanings or particular associations that you may not have initially considered. This becomes an even greater challenge when it comes to marketing products internationally, as you contemplate the impact of the name in other places around the world and in other cultures.

Questions to consider are:

  • What is the meaning in other languages and countries?
  • Is it easy to pronounce?
  • Does it have any positive or negative cultural implications?
  • Do your color choices carry any specific connotations across the world?

Failure to take these questions into consideration could result in embarrassing blunders, costly corrective measures and even irreparable damage to your brand.

What are the pitfalls?

There have been numerous examples of embarrassing blunders such cases over the years, now infamous in translation and marketing lore. One of these involved the Rolls Royce company which planned on naming a new model “Silver Mist” until they realized that “mist” meant “dung” or “manure” in German. “Silver Dung” was not quite the impact they were looking for! Rolls Royce renamed the model “Silver Shadow.” A liquor producer was not quite so careful and ended up marketing their product in Germany as “Irischer Mist” or “Irish Dung” as it translated locally. Perhaps not quite the image they were looking for.

Why carry out a linguistic and cultural assessment?

So, how can you avoid such embarrassing mistakes and ensure a product name will be accepted around the world? While it is probably not possible to completely eliminate the risk, it can be drastically reduced by carrying out an impact assessment to analyze the linguistic and cultural connotations of the brand name in the target countries and regions where the product will be marketed. This will help to determine whether the brand name has any meaning in the main local languages, whether it is easy for people to pronounce and whether it has any positive, negative, or other associations through its meaning or its sound.

Which language for which country?

This can sometimes be more complex than you might think as more than one language is spoken in some countries. For example, India has two national official languages, Hindi and English. You might then think that an assessment of your product name in these two languages will be sufficient for the Indian market. However, this only scratches the surface of the complexity of language in India. While the central government uses Hindi and English for official purposes, there are actually an additional 22 languages which are official languages at the state level and about 30 languages spoken by over a million people each. In fact, less than half of all Indians speak Hindi. The official language of the state of Maharashtra, for instance, is not Hindi but Marathi. Any company looking at India as a potential market could not afford to neglect assessing the suitability of the brand name in the Marathi language as this is spoken in Mumbai (Bombay), the largest and most prosperous city in India – as well as its business and financial capital.
Is the same language applicable in all countries?

Another complication arises where a particular language has several regional variants spoken in different countries. This is the case for French, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish – and also English of course – which are all widely spoken in numerous countries around the world. You may think it is safe to market a product under an established American brand name across the English speaking world but the many varieties of English as spoken internationally may lead to some unintended results. The common “fanny pack” for instance is known as a “bum bag” in Great Britain where “fanny” has quite a different meaning than in American English (look it up if you don’t know what it means!).

Do Language and Culture Impact Slogans and Taglines?

Slogans and taglines often use informal language or slang, sometimes coupled with humor or double entendres. Any translation for these needs be done very carefully and sensitively, not only with regards to linguistic meaning, but also taking into account cultural perceptions and associations in the target country. Humor in particular can be very difficult to translate and a bad translation may result at best in confusion to the audience and at worst a major gaffe. One such case took place when the KFC slogan “Finger Lickin’ Good” was translated into Chinese as “Eat Your Fingers Off” in the local lingo.

Do Colors Have Implications?

A single color can have many different meanings in different cultures. In Asia red represents blood, passion, self-sacrifice and strength, while in the US it is a color of warning, safety rescue, hot and spicy. There are traditional meanings associated with colors in various cultures, like those linked to birth, weddings, funerals or even the color of the mailbox.


The bottom line is that companies need to tread carefully when extending their reach internationally, do their homework and seek expert advice on the suitability of their plans before taking the plunge.

For further information or to make sure your brand makes a good impression, contact us at: 412.261.1101 or contact us.

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It is great that you are planning to translate your website into one or more languages to better communicate with your customers and stakeholders. As you do this, it is worth giving some thought to how you will reference those additional languages for your non-English speaking visitors. It all starts with the language dropdown menu.

Here are four common ways the dropdown is handled – and a fifth, which is the only one you should consider!

    1. Incorrect: Using “Select region and language” written in English – to indicate the website is available in other languages. Stating you are a global organization committed to people and facilities around the world, then only using English to ask visitors to select a region and language seems contradictory. Frustrating a user is a sure way to deter them from doing business with your company. There are many creative ways to communicate visually to direct users on where and what to do.

  1. Incorrect: Using flags for the language dropdown menu. Some languages are spoken in several countries. There is no unifying flag that can be used without creating confusion, being offensive, or politically incorrect to one or more of the target countries. Some countries speak several languages. The Swiss flag may represent neutrality, but in Switzerland, there are four national languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansh. You either would need to select one language to be represented by that flag, or have an additional dropdown menu for the language choice. It gets complicated.

    Exception: If your company only conducts business in one particular country (and only in one language spoken in that country).

    By Tschubby,

  2. Incorrect: Using the name of a country for the language dropdown. Again, this could be inaccurate and you may inadvertently insult your audience in one country and create the same issues as using a flag.

    Exception: If, however, you directly sell a product in a particular country like France and do not offer shipments to Madagascar, Rwanda or any of the other 29 countries where French is the official language, then the country name may be used.

  3. Incorrect: Using the name of the language or country with its English spelling in the dropdown menu. “Germany” is the English spelling of the country name “Deutschland.” If you took the time to translate the content, be sure to translate the name of the language and/or country so visitors can easily find the translation.

    Notes: Be sure it is correct. Other languages do not follow the same capitalization rules for language names. Additionally, if you have your site translated into two versions of a language, be sure to list both along with the version: e.g., español (España) and español (México).

So what is the best approach?

The simple solution is to have a globe of the world with no text at all. From there you can have your dropdown menu, map with regions to hover over, or any other visual or information. If your website is translated into just one language, then you can list just the name of that language, translated (“français” rather than “French”), in the upper right hand corner.

Take a quiz on what you learned:

  1. Which is displayed correctly?

  2. Which is displayed correctly?


    Answers:  1-A, 2-B

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way we collect, interpret and analyze data and, in the process, the way we conduct business. This includes the global translation industry. Listen to the Podcast: Jim Moore on Tech Vibe. With increasing global access to technology, there has never been more content in the world. Recent research estimates that more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. Combined with globalization and international eCommerce, this means businesses have a surplus of content—marketing materials, product descriptions and internal documents—that need to be translated. Advances in machine translation (MT) via artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning offer the potential for an efficient, cost-effective solution to this growing need. In the past MT was primarily a culling tool to get the “gist” of meaning from a large volume of documents, typically part of the discovery process in large cross border litigation. Relevant documents would then be professionally translated “from scratch” by humans. Until recently there was little value for MT in a corporate environment where you often see the translation of English source documents into upwards of 40 languages for product documentation, training or sales and marketing collateral. Now, with the improved output from “smart machines”, we are starting to see MT used for the initial translation with the human professionals taking on the role of “post MT” editors. These developments portend big changes both for companies that buy translation services and for language service providers (LSPs). For the former, it offers the potential for translating a higher volume of content faster and for less money. For the LSPs it means transforming their database of professional translators into professional “post editors” which is a much different skill set. And then there is the role of MT engines from industry giants like Google and Microsoft. In what circumstances it is OK to use a free, public source translation machine? What is the impact on the protection of confidential information? What are the alternatives to Google Translate?
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Trying to be creative when writing copy that will also need to be translated? When in doubt, leave it out. We often receive English content that cannot be easily rendered in other languages. For example, the copy may contain phrasing or imagery that, even when translated, may not make sense in another culture. Not all languages use the same manner of speaking. Below are some examples of creative content that can be challenging:
  • Catch phrases, colloquialisms, proverbs or idioms: “A piece of cake,” when translated literally, may make the reader hungry, but will not necessarily indicate that something is easy. The linguist will need to find an equivalent idiom or may need to come up with a less-creative phrase to express the same intent.
  • Slang or jargon: Jargon could be terms that are specific to a particular industry, which would need input from a local speaker in that industry or may be better off to leave in English. Slang words may not have the same meaning in another culture, and could be misunderstood.
  • Rhyming words: While words may rhyme in English, and might also rhyme in a particular language, this may not be the case in all languages. The translated text may not have the same or desired impact.
  • Sports analogies: It is best to stay away from sports analogies unless you are certain the sport is popular in a particular region. A marketing brochure cleverly based around baseball terminology—“rounding home,” “hitting a home run,” etc.—would be nearly impossible to translate for audiences in Europe, where soccer is the most popular sport. To have the same impact, the whole brochure should be rewritten using soccer metaphors.
  • Company taglines: These are often left in English. However, some companies may choose to transcreate equally impactful local taglines, which are then used consistently in the target languages.
  • Abbreviations and acronyms: Most acronyms, when literally translated, no longer spell out the same word in other languages. Character-based languages, like Chinese, do not use acronyms at all. When using creative acronyms, decide whether you want to keep the acronym in English (explaining the meaning in the translation) or develop an equally impactful acronym or term in the target language.
  • Imagery and colors: Besides the text, a native speaker of the target country should review any visual element. Certain animals or colors may be offensive in some cultures. Owls may indicate wisdom in the United States, but in Italy an owl sighting is a vision of the spirits of the dead. Some countries negatively view imagery with insects, because they are associated with disease. The color red can signify good luck in China, and danger and evil in the Middle East.
In a standard translation process, the translators are charged with translating the existing text accurately. They cannot take liberties and rewrite a client’s copy or stray from what is written in the source. For very creative projects, we may recommend that you rewrite the source to make it easier to translate. Or we may recommend transcreation, a blend of translation and creative writing. Translators and copywriters work from a creative brief, ensuring that nuances, idioms and phrasing will resonate with the intended audience in each locale. If you know that your messaging will eventually be translated, be sure to write it in a manner that that someone can understand anywhere in the world. Feel free to consult us early in the process. At Trustpoint.One, we work with our clients and provide tips along the way to help make the copy effective in any language after it is translated. We also review layout, photos, illustrations and color usage, and inform clients of issues that may arise so that the project can run smoothly from the beginning. For further information, to obtain a quote or to have a free analysis of your material, contact us today: 412‑261‑1101 or
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Often, upon following up on a quote sent to a prospective client, we find out they went with the lowest bidder. This often does not turn out well. One prospect confided in us that he selected a competitor who came in with a much lower quote only to have received a bad translation. The prospect was embarrassed when a native speaking colleague had to fix what should have been a high quality translation. He even used the phrase that he “got what he paid for.” What could this prospect have done differently? He could have asked about the disparity among the quotes, since the lowest quote was less than half the price of the others. In cases like this, it is important to compare apples to apples. Each quote should demonstrate that the bidder fully understands the scope of the project and should include the same services. Some companies may not include editing, desktop publishing or proofreading in the initial quote, but then add this later on to the final invoice. Most translation services like to hear feedback regarding their quotes. If it is reasonable, they may work with you to align their quote with others if cost is the only deciding factor. Another way to gauge a translation service’s quality is by asking about the linguists who would work on the project. Quality translation services use educated and experienced linguists, and with that comes a price. Some services rely on low cost translation software or unqualified linguists. They are able to quote dramatically low prices, but are unable to ensure the translation quality is on par with the English original. The best advice is to get all of the information you can from the prospective translation services. Make sure the quote lists all the services that will be included and ask for references. An ISO-certified translation service will have a well-defined process that ensures quality, starting with the selection of experienced, highly trained linguists. Make sure that you are getting what you pay for. Because we’ve all heard the saying that if that extraordinarily low price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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Translation is often not seen as a priority for many U.S. companies with global reach. English is the lingua franca of business, so why incur the unnecessary expense of translating content into all the languages of your company’s global employees and customers? This article will discuss three risk factors that can result from not translating your materials: lost sales opportunities, reduced employee safety and costly legal ramifications.

1. Lost Sales Opportunities

Several international studies confirm that, in spite of living in a globalized world, buyers still choose to buy from companies that speak to them in their own language. We feel more at ease if we understand what we buy. If we do not clearly understand a product or service, we are reluctant to buy it. Addressing your prospective clients in their language will convey the trust and proximity they need to utilize and purchase your products or services instead of those of your competitors. As an example, a U.S. equipment manufacturer had been working with its Chinese customer for many years when a new sales rep suggested they translate their manuals into Chinese. Management said there was no need; their client had never asked for it in all the years they had worked together. Several months later, a competitor from The Netherlands managed to lure the Chinese customer away from them—and for more money. How? They approached the Chinese company in their native language and offered all the manuals and support materials in Chinese. Sad to say, that with the loss of that one large client, the company went out of business.

2. Reduced Employee Safety

The number of non-native English speakers at U.S. companies continues to increase at both domestic and international locations. Many of these workers hold high-risk positions. Therefore, taking a proactive initiative is critical to ensuring worker safety. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. Bridging the language gap in workplaces small and large with the ultimate goal of aggressively eliminating injuries, illnesses and fatalities for all workers, is essential for success. Traditional safety training is not effective for employees with limited English skills, especially when delivered by a trainer who expects the workers will absorb it sufficiently to protect themselves and those around them. Furthermore, safety memos, posters or e-learning are not as productive when only presented in English. Efficient communication with employees with limited English skills results in fewer workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities, as well as increased morale, productivity and reduced costs. Injuries impact insurance and unemployment rates, and can carry legal consequences. OSHA has alliances and public-sector outreach initiatives for non-English speaking workers in the U.S. Many OSHA publications and safety training materials are available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Creole, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese.

3. Costly Legal Ramifications

The legal ramifications of not having a translation of even the simplest of documents can have a costly impact on a company. The legal realm of translation is quite broad and can cover any of the following, both internally (employees, distributors, or vendors) or externally (customers or competition):
  • Product liability cases or a class action suits from misuse of the product and injury;
  • Loss of proprietary information and trade secrets;
  • Law suits from employees;
  • Breach of contract and use of logos;
  • Patent infringement on a current patent held in another country;
  • Delays in exporting, importing or IRB approvals.
Other countries require the translation of specific material to be compliant for sale and use.  Industries like chemical, manufacturing, medical and pharmaceutical may need to provide translated product labels, instructions for use or equipment warning decals. Even if your industry or product does not have rules that mandate translation, companies that sell manufacturing equipment, B2B products, software or consumer products (such as food, beauty items, and toys) should consider the risks of not translating material. Be safe: Consider translating labels and instructions for use for any product that could present a hazard or danger if improperly used.
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At Trustpoint, we partner with our clients to include them in the translation process. This process begins with content creation, so we want to share relevant information about source file management and delivery. Follow these tips on how to create “translation-friendly” files, and you and your team will stay actively involved, ensure up-front cost savings and experience a smoother translation process.

What is DTP?

DTP stands for “Desktop Publishing.” A personal computer and specific applications are used to prepare the layout of a document. This creates better control of illustrations, margins and justifications, typefaces, graphics, colors, etc. Multilingual DTP is particularly challenging, as many languages can expand as much as 30% compared to English source files. Other languages flow right to left, which pose added challenges. To make sure your source and target language documents look the same, you need an expert team to deliver content that fits and flows properly.

What is a Source File?

In the translation industry, the term “source file” refers to the original document to be translated. “Source files” come in various formats, the most common of which are listed below. .doc/.docx Microsoft Word .xls/.xlsx Microsoft Excel .ppt/.pptx Microsoft PowerPoint .indd Adobe InDesign .ai Adobe Illustrator .pub Microsoft Publisher .psd Adobe Photoshop .dwg AutoCAD .fltar/.flprj/.fltoc/.flskn/.flvar MadCap Flare

How to Create “Translation-Friendly” Source Files.

  • Avoid formatting shortcuts, such as inserting manual line breaks or tabs to align. Use your software’s word processing tools to create automatic tabs, margins and automatic bulleted lists.
  • Leave enough room for the translation, especially for Russian, German and Spanish. Remember that your translation may expand as much as 30%.
  • Avoid excessive styling of your text (italics, bolding, underlining). Depending on your target translation language, such styles may not carry over well. For example, Asian languages don’t generally use italics, because this distorts the characters.
  • If you outsource your content creation, we recommend sharing this information with your design and content management teams.

Follow These Steps for Quoting Documents That Require DTP.

  • Send “editable source files/art files.” This means no PDF files. Send the files your PDF was created from, e.g. an InDesign (.indd/.idml) file instead of a PDF file.
  • If you don’t have the source art files at the time of the quote, we will analyze the PDF document. Please note that prices may be subject to change once we receive the actual art files.
  • Include all images, links and fonts associated with the creation of the document.

When are Additional Costs Incurred?

Recreating the layout and format of your translated document, or any images in the absence of editable source files will result in file formatting/file preparation fees. We recommend that you try to locate the original source files, but we understand that this isn’t always possible. We are here as your partner to work out agreeable solutions.

The Translation/DTP Process.

  • Once Trustpoint receives all relevant files, they are prepped and sent out for for translation.
  • Once translation is finalized, any client review of the translation transpires before the DTP begins.
  • Files are translated and proofed for correctness and accuracy, then enter the DTP phase.
  • Our DTP team works with the translation in the appropriate design software, tweaking the formatting as necessary to accommodate the translated text.
  • Once completed, the translation heads to quality control, where the translator and our quality control specialists review it in its final format to ensure all errors and formatting issues are resolved.
  • After the translation is checked by our quality control specialists, it is finalized by DTP.
  • Trustpoint then provides you the following deliverables: the translated art file, all links (including those modified for translation), and all links (including those modified for translation) and all fonts.

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