Peak Translations

How to get your message across to international customers

It’s the time of year when we all make new plans and resolutions, look at our business strategies for the coming 12 months and make sure we have everything on track for a successful year ahead. For those of you who trade internationally, this should also include looking at how you interact with your international customers.

Communicating with your customers in their native language leaves no doubt that you’re committed to them. But it’s not enough to simply translate your existing marketing and product material. Truly getting your message across requires an expert understanding of context and sector terminology.

We’ve put together a few pointers to ensure your translated content is not only read but understood:

  • Creative content: The most impactful marketing materials are the ones that speak directly to your target customers.Using the wrong terminology or reference can quickly alienate your audience. Here’s a few to look out for when targeting international markets:


– Localisation: the same word may mean something different (e.g. a flannel in the US is something to be worn, not to wash with). There may also be differences in forms of address, with the informal ‘you’ used much more frequently in Spain than in Latin America.Consider too if your product or service is aimed at the same audience in each market. Your message may need to be adapted accordingly.

– Measurements: Like most of the world, Europe adheres to the metric system of measurement (kilometres, kilograms and Celsius). The US still uses the imperial system (miles, pounds and Fahrenheit) and the UK a combination of the two.

– 24 v 12 hour clock: whilst the 12 hour clock as the written and spoken system of time is prevalent in the UK and former British Empire, others adopt the 24 hour clock as their one system. A third group, typically in Europe and Latin America, favour the 12 hour clock in colloquial speech and the 24 hour clock in formal speech and writing.

– Calendar: some countries may use their own calendar or a variation of the Gregorian calendar. Thailand uses the Thai solar calendar which counts the years in the Buddhist era; Iran and Afghanistan use the Solar Hijri calendar which begins with the March Equinox.


  • Technical or medical content: Again, who is the end user of your product? Whether it’s providing instructions to use your product or safety warnings, accurate and comprehensible content is paramount; not only to maintain your professional reputation but to avoid any risks to safety caused by inaccurate use.


  • Legal content: Have you considered which legislation might be specific to a particular country or territory and how it might differ to that in the UK? Any differences will certainly impact upon the messages you need to convey to those markets. Do you need specific safety information translated, for example, or privacy notices on websites?


Take time to research the background of your chosen territory, and your translated content will truly speak to your audience.





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