Should You Translate Your Company’s Name?

Translate Your Company’s Name

Should you translate your company or product’s name when you decide to penetrate global markets? It is a question that must have come to your mind one day. Many brands focus more on translating all their brand information including marketing materials, websites, and product information, but they ignore the importance of having a brand name that resonates well with their target markets.

Many international companies had unfortunate translations for their brand names, yet they quickly realized such mistakes. The following are some examples:


When Honda decided to introduce its latest car “Fitta” to the Nordic countries, they found out that “Fitta” means something vulgar and offensive in the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish languages. The car was quickly renamed “Jazz”.


When Coca-Cola first entered the Chinese market in 1928, they tried to replicate the name into Chinese characters to be “ko-ka-ko-la”. However, the new name meant “bite the wax tadpole”. The name was changed to “ko-kou-ko-le” which means “to allow the mouth to be able to rejoice”.


When the hair care company “Clairol” introduced its new curling iron called the “Mist Stick” in Germany, they did not notice that “mist” is slang for “manure” or “excrement”.

Therefore, the best solution in order not to repeat such failures in translating your company or product’s name is to partner with a reliable translation agency that employs experienced translators who can help you with the best option. Afrolingo’s team of professionals can answer all your localization questions to select the best brand name that will be suitable for your target markets.

Now, let’s walk you through some options through which you can make your company name appealing to new markets.

Use the Original Name in All Regions

The first option is to keep the original name in all markets. This is the easiest and cheapest way. However, you have to make sure that it makes sense and does not mean anything rude or embarrassing in target markets.

Moreover, you have to ask a native speaker of the target country to confirm that the name is acceptable as it is in his/her country.

Professional translation agencies like Afrolingo can create a brand name that can fit in each market by using internationalization. Thus, it is important to localize your brand from the startup phase to save your money and efforts.

Translate Your Brand’s Name

You can translate your brand’s name literally. Here, you have the following two options:

  • Original Name (Translation)

Preserve the original name while adding its translation between brackets. This helps the readers understand the meaning of your brand’s name.

  • Translation (Original Name)

If you are convinced that translation will be better, you can keep the original name in brackets and remove it after making sure that the target customers can perceive the new name well.

Apply Transliteration

It means providing a phonetic translation for your brand or product’s name to sound like the original in its spelling. This most likely happens when the source and target languages have different alphabets. Yet, you still need to make sure that the transliterated name does not mean something offensive or confusing to the target readers. This is most applicable when you are translating from English to Korean, Chinese, or Arabic.

Adidas chose this option when it transliterated its name in Chinese to 阿迪达斯 (Ādídásī) which is very similar to the original in pronunciation but does not have any meaning in the Chinese language.

Translate It Using Localization

When you localize your brand’s name, it means that it is unsuitable in the target regions as it is. It may have an offensive meaning, or maybe another company with the same name is there. In this case, you have to cooperate with a trustworthy language service provider to select a name that is culturally appropriate in your target markets.

Pick a Completely New Name Using Transcreation

Transcreation means choosing a new name for your brand while keeping the original idea intact. This process is a bit more complicated than the rest of the other options. However, it will be very fruitful when performed appropriately. It may also cause you to start a whole marketing journey from scratch to introduce the new name to target customers.

Summing up

In a world where the “cancel” culture is dominating, your customers’ first impression should be your priority to guarantee the success of your business in global markets. Hence, make sure that you select a brand name that is acceptable and understandable in your target domains.

Afrolingo is a professional translation agency in Africa that can help you avoid any embarrassment by providing you with top-notch translation and localization services. Our professional translators are well-versed in more than 80 African languages and can help you enter new markets and skyrocket your sales. Request a quote now!