Canada is unique in its use of two official languages: English and French. Some Canadian territories also have aboriginal languages as official languages. While these languages are not equally dominant across all parts of the country, there is no denying how their official designations have a significant impact on daily life in Canada, especially for brands. Regardless of your own level of proficiency in any language, being able to communicate with customers is essential — which is why so many find an expert in translation in Montreal to address their needs.
English, French, and the aboriginal languages of Canada are all unique, with rich vocabularies, complex grammar systems, and other nuances that are often missed by those who don’t have an in-depth understanding of the language. Even minor issues with spelling, syntax, or conjugation can completely alter your intended message.
At best, potential customers will write off any translation mishaps as an amusing mistake, but poor translation could cause your intended audience to view your brand as unprofessional or even offensive.
In China, Pepsi had an early marketing mess-up with an advertising slogan that was mistranslated to read that the soft drink would bring “ancestors back from the grave.” This mistake didn’t go over well in China, where ancestors are revered. The company has never caught up with its rival Coca Cola in terms of Chinese market share.
Needless to say, you don’t want easily overlooked translation errors to cause similar blunders for your own business. In Canada, where a significant proportion of the population is personally bilingual, any errors on your part will quickly be noticed. More likely than not, your brand would be judged as unprofessional, causing you to lose out on potential customers who might otherwise benefit from your products or services.
French in Canada is not the same as French in France or Belgium. Each region has cultural elements that make it distinct from how the language is spoken in other areas. Differing slang and other linguistic features could mean that a message that seems perfectly normal in France would come across rather strangely in Canada.
This makes local expertise an absolute must when translating for Canadian audiences. Appealing to your target audience requires so much more than proper grammar — it also requires using the words, tone, and images that will best appeal to your customers.
Another “bad” example of why you need to account for these cultural differences comes from diaper brand Pampers. The brand initially had abysmal sales when it launched in Japan, failing to make much of an impact on the market. It wasn’t until the company’s team did some cultural research that they found the root of the problem — their packaging featured a stork delivering a baby, while in Japanese folklore, babies were delivered by giant floating peaches.
In this situation and others, it doesn’t matter if the wording is technically correct. Without accounting for local culture, you could still fail to make the right impression with your target audience. French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians do have distinct differences, and making sure you address these concerns in your marketing will be essential for your brand’s success.
The Right Messages
Translating your brand messages to reach all of Canada’s residents shouldn’t be left to chance. With the help of expert translators who understand the nuances of Canadian translation needs, you can avoid costly mistakes that would cause you to miss out on a key proportion of your target demographic.
Ultimately, enlisting expert translation services will ensure that your messages get across in the right way. By avoiding linguistic and cultural mistakes, your brand will be better positioned to reach all of Canada’s residents, addressing their interests and needs while simultaneously creating new opportunities for growth for your own company.