The first thing that a business or a freelancer must invest in when starting up is branding. That’s always what I’d recommend.
You can have the best service and offer, but if you don’t make it appealing, it isn’t going to sell well. At least, as well as it could.
However, every branding process requires some creativity to come up with your corporate colours, typographies, graphics, etc. And one of the most important parts of your branding is the name of your business.
I’m sure that most of you could relate. It is difficult to find a unique, short business name that is easy to remember and pronounce for your clients, isn’t it? An the name of your business is crucial to determine its success.
But, what happens once you have come up with the perfect name and now want to target a different country or culture? Should you target this new market with the same name, or should you translate it or come up with a different name in a different language? What about the name of your services or products?
Tricky question, isn’t it? Well, let’s see what factors may influence to take a decision.
When should you translate a business name?
Before answering this question straightaway, we need to think of the purpose of your business name.
Why did you choose your business name?
- Maybe it is because it’s creative and innovative, something that appeals to your clients and gets stuck in their minds.
- Maybe you went for a more practical name and chose something that may rank higher in Google searches.
If you went for option 1, you should figure out if that name still works for an audience in the country that you are targeting. But how can you do it if you don’t know the language or the culture? Ask a native person. As simple as that.
- What does your business name mean for a native?
- Is it easy to pronounce/spell for him/her?
- Is it still catchy?
- Can s/he understand it?
In some cases, business names can remain the same if the name works in the different countries:
However, other brans decide to change their name, even if they approach countries with the same language:
If you went for option 1, you may or may not want to translate your business name. Every case is different and the impact of your name must be measured always taking into account the perspective of a native person living in the country and market that you want to target.
On the other hand, if you went for option 2, you’ll probably have to translate your name. Why?
- If you’re targeting a country in which a different language is spoken, words in that language will be more popular in Google rankings (obviously!)
- If you’re targeting a different country with the same language, you’ll need to find out if your keyword has the same demand in the new country that you want to target.
You should be sure that the volume of searches for your keyword is the same in both countries before taking a decision:
The name of your business is essential when you’re internationalising your business and want to start targeting new countries and cultures, so take your time to analyse your results. And the same applies to the names of your products or offers.
How should you translate a business name?
When you decide to change or translate a business name, you must bear in mind that it’s not just about words.
So don’t go to Google translate, type your name and voilà. No, it doesn’t work like that and you’ll successfully fail by doing so.
Culture is an important part of branding and there should always be a human component when it comes to it. If you have a marketing department, it will need to work with a linguist specialist to guide them through the process. If you don’t have a marketing department, you’ll need to hire a translator specialised in marketing so s/he can show you the dos and don’ts.
In any case, pay special attention to the following steps:
1. Unfold the name of your business
Step back for a moment and think about why you chose your business name for a moment. Use a piece of paper to brainstorm about your business name and your logo (you may also need to change your logo to adapt it the new name).
- What ideas did you want to convey with your business name?
- What’s the style of your logo?
- What public do you want to attract with your business name?
- What’s the personal story of the person/people behind your business? Is it reflected in your logo?
You have to assess how many of these aspects you want to convey through your business name to choose the best options. Try to make a list of keywords with their translations into the target language to have a clearer picture of which words could be used for the your new business name.
2. Does it work in the target language? Why or why not?
You also need to analyse these aspects to see how many of them work in the target culture and how many of them don’t.
But most importantly, you need to know why they’re not working on the target culture. The reason behind this is the translation problem that must be solved by a specialist. Maybe it’s a linguistic problem or maybe it’s a cultural problem.
3. Should you go for creative or practical?
It depends (as usual). It all depends on what you’re looking for and how you want to achieve it.
A creative name is a name that gets stuck in your clients’ mind, and a practical name, for example, is a name that matches a keyword to rank higher on search engines.
Think about how do you want to attract your clients:
- Do you want to attract clients in a more organic way through Google searches or are you willing to invest in marketing campaigns?
For a marketing campaign, you’ll need a powerful name so people can feel a connexion with your brand.
3 ideas to come up with a good business name
1. A powerful word
Keep it simple, they say. And sometimes that’s the best option to attract clients. Think about a powerful word that can sum up all the values behind your business.
2. Verb + noun
A verb implies an action. So this option could be the best one to include a call to action in your business name.
3. Combination of two words
A combination of words can also be very interesting if you want to join to different ideas into the same context.
Now you know the tricks to translate a business name that succeed in a foreign market. Have you ever had to come across a name for your business? How did you do it?
I’d love to hear from you!