Comical Global Branding Fails

Even the biggest brands can make mistakes when bringing their brand to new markets. A company should always carefully research and identify any cultural differences, or language translations, when expanding their business. You want to catch any possible missteps before they happen. Here are some epic fails for a good laugh.

Coca-Cola
When first launched in China, the brand name was translated as “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax,” depending on dialect. We’re pretty sure that’s not what Mr. Miyagi was talking about when he said, “Wax on…”

Ford
While marketing the Ford Pinto in Brazil, they discovered “Pinto” means “tiny male genitals.” In Belgium, their slogan “Every Car Has a High-Quality Body” was translated to “Every car has a high-quality corpse.” Redefining the acronym: Found On the Road Dead”!

Pepsi
Their slogan “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” was translated to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave,” in China. Not only did it not make any sense, it was considered disrespectful. Clearly, they were able to resuscitate their brand after such an epic mistake.

Mitsubishi
The Mitsubishi Montero was originally called the “Pajero.” “Pajero” means “jerk” in Spanish, and they did not do well in Spanish speaking markets. No bueno.

Vicks
In German, the letter “v” is pronounced as an “f”. When expanding to the German market, their brand name was suddenly German slang for sexual intercourse. We hope Vicks Vaporub didn’t end up in any odd places.

Coors
Their slogan “Turn it Loose” is slang for having diarrhea in Spanish. That’s not exactly what you want, after consuming a beverage. After all, you’re supposed to be able to drink the beer, not the water, right?

KFC
In Beijing, their slogan “Finger-Lickin’ Good” was originally translated to “eat your fingers off.” What!?! Is that why we have chicken fingers?

Pampers
When expanding their advertising to Japan, they used the stork-bringing-babies image that is practically ubiquitous in western countries. However, this had no value to Japanese audiences. As a result, a lot of marketing dollars were wasted on a culturally irrelevant ad campaign.

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Color Psychology

Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Colors can cause certain emotional reactions, and even influence perceptions that are not necessarily conscious. Color psychology is used all around us, taking its cues from nature, and should be considered in marketing and branding. The following are just some common color…

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6 Benefits of Choosing a Local Agency

A local agency will understand the local market. Remember those global branding fails? The large corporations launching those campaigns did not understand the market they were advertising to. When working with a local agency, you won’t have any time zone differences to worry about. Everyone is on the same page, the same schedule! A local…

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How Decades of Solid Branding Saved Coca-Cola from the Pepsi Challenge

The Pepsi Challenge was a marketing campaign started in 1975. It was simply a blind taste test between Pepsi and Coca-Cola, touting that even Coca-Cola fans choose Pepsi. It was a wildly successful marketing strategy that they revisited for decades. Coca-Cola even ran their own private tastes test, through which they found Pepsi was indeed…

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What is Brand Consistency and Why is it Important?

Brand consistency means always delivering messages aligned with the core brand values in the same tone, presenting the brand’s visual language in a consistent way, and repeating the same colors throughout the cohesive brand experience. Over time, these elements become ingrained in the minds of consumers, and they’re more likely to remember your brand. Brand…

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What is Branding?

Branding is all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes and minds. It’s your “what”, your “how”, and your “why”. Your description of what you offer, the colors associated with your business, your visual identity, your website, your advertising, your collateral and your social media presence—these are all…

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5 Reasons Successful Branding is Important

Branding clearly delivers your message. Branding emotionally connects your target audience with what you offer. Branding motivates your audience to create a connection. Branding reinforces your credibility. Branding creates loyalty. Bonus – Branding helps you stand out in a crowd.

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Typefaces & Fonts Do More Than Transmit Words

Do the typefaces and fonts you choose for your brand materials matter? As long as it’s in a language the audience understands, they’ll get the intended message, right? Wrong. Typefaces and fonts are essentially the shapes of the letters. Shapes are multi-sensory, meaning they affect more than one of your senses and can easily elicit…

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How Good Branding Saves Your Company Money

Many businesses make the mistake of throwing money at marketing without thinking enough about their brand, as a whole. Paid media campaigns might garner attention, but they can’t necessarily retain it and convert as many customers without solid branding. A company with a consistent, strong perception amongst audiences will always outperform competitors with the same…