4 Reasons Global Brands Fail with English Content
When venturing into the global market, it’s essential to understand the nuances of many different cultures. Fortunately, there’s one aspect of marketing globally that you don’t need to customize for each individual culture: language.
As one regional expert recently observed, “Asia’s growing prominence on the global stage is giving rise to a new generation of distinctly Asian brands with global appeal” — and the best global Asian brands know the power of writing in English.
The fastest-spreading language in human history, as Harvard Business Review observes, English is spoken at a useful level "by some 1.75 billion people worldwide — that’s one in every four of us.” Of the most-visited websites, 53.6 percent are displayed in English, followed by Russian at only 6.4 percent.
But simply writing in English isn’t enough. You need high-quality, native English that connects with readers. Many global brands still think they can do it on their own, but they face a unique set of challenges that can make or break their online presence. Here are four reasons companies try to write the content themselves — and four reasons they fail.
“Nobody will know that we’re not native speakers.”
We’ll let you in on a little secret: Native English speakers can tell when content is written by non-native speakers. Sometimes it’s word choice, sometimes it’s syntax, and sometimes it’s the inappropriate use of idioms. Whatever it is, readers pick up on the fact that something is off. The same thing happens when you use a free app to translate your content to English. Automated content from free online translators not only sounds robotic, but it's also often riddled with embarrassing — and costly — mistakes. Both of those scenarios broadcast the idea that your company doesn’t know and doesn’t care, making people wonder if your products and customer service will suffer from a similar lack of attention.
“We all speak English here.”
Whether you speak Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Telugu, or Urdu, you probably have the good fortune of being bilingual. But don't make the mistake of thinking that because you speak English, you can write English content that will impress. Too many people think the English they learned in school is good enough, resulting in embarrassing miscommunication that may drive away potential global partners. If you want strong content, it's best to use a native English speaker who is also a professional writer.
“Our English content looks good enough to me.”
If you can't tell the difference between good, bad, and great English website copy, that’s all the more reason to hire a high-quality content vendor. Even one grammatical mistake or incorrectly used idiom can make people hit delete or leave your site. Unfortunately, some amazing global companies create emails, blog posts, and website copy riddled with errors that make native English speakers bury their heads in their hands. Don't let the fine points of English grammar, punctuation, and usage get in the way of your company's promising future. If your brand has something really great to offer the world, put your best foot forward from the start.
“As long as we optimize for SEO, it doesn’t matter.”
If you want English-speaking readers around the world to find your content, you want to use the same keywords that they’ll use in their searches. Translating keywords word-for-word is difficult (if not impossible), because keywords in your language might not have direct counterparts in English. You might also find that common phrases in your language may not translate well into English. To maximize your SEO, you need to take into account the subtleties of translation and make sure that the phrases you preserve your meaning while still making sense in English.
Regardless of what you’re trying to sell, you want to promote your product or service with authority and confidence. Even though the people you’re trying to reach don’t speak your native tongue, chances are they do speak English. That’s why your chances of reaching — and impressing — your target audience are highest if you offer high-quality English content.
To source that content, you need a high-quality content vendor. The best vendors use only highly educated native English speakers who are also professional writers. If you settle for less, you might source English content that was written by the clever cousin of your younger brother's best friend, who’s typing up a storm just a few miles from where you live.
Don't take that risk. At Prose Media, we’ll work closely with you to understand your brand, your audience, and your goals. We’ll craft the superb content you need to succeed in today’s hyper-connected world. From website copy to blog posts, social media posts, white papers, and brochures, Prose Media can give your company a strong, convincing English voice. Sign up today to find out how.