4 quick tips on developing bilingual brand messaging


Those of us lucky enough to live in Canada – especially in New Brunswick, understand how much of a pain in the a$$ it can be having to communicate your brand in both official languages. If you’ve ever tried to fit english and french text into a business card-sized ad space, you know what I’m talking about.

But the value is real. Bilingualism in Moncton, New Brunswick is absolutely essential in order to cater to a larger demographic. But there are so many issues when it comes to dealing with bilingual branding that you must consider. Which language comes first? Should they both be the same size? Do they both portray the same message, etc…

It’s definitely not an easy task, so here are a few tips to effectively communicate a brand message bilingually:

1. Know Your Primary Audience

Understanding who you are talking to can make it easier to decide which language should have priority.

"All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity." - Gordie Howe

2. Adapt. Don’t Translate

It’s a common mistake to develop content in one language and then send it off for translation. You must keep in consideration the spirit of the message you are trying to communicate and make sure that same spirit is adapted in whatever languages you are communicating.

3. Sorry, But Google Translate Won’t Cut It

Here’s a little story you might find entertaining. A company I once worked for was organizing a large event with many high profile speakers including many political dignitaries. As part of organizing the event, a program and overhead presentation slides had to be developed. It was developed by a group of people who had never been concerned with linguistic issues, so they decided to use Google translate.

Here’s an example of what was translated:
English: Guest Speaker, Hon. John Smith
French: Haut-parleur invité, l’Hon. John Smith

For those who may not know much french, “haut-parleur” means speaker – like a stereo speaker. Not the kind of speaker that gives a very important speech. Needless to say it was a very embarrassing moment that could have easily been avoided only if someone would have cared enough to get some professional help.

4. Respect Your Audience

If you respect your audience by caring enough to take the time to communicate effectively in their preferred language, they will respect your brand and emotionally connect with it.

It’s really common sense when you have to communicate your message in two official languages. It brings you back to the basic things your parents taught you – to treat others as you would want to be treated and you will earn their respect and even establish brand loyalty.


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