“Touch Your Customers… Appropriately”
Does the English in the above picture seem awkward to you? Let’s take a moment to look at it. There are no misspellings. The grammar is correct. But there is something definitely strange about telling a potential customer that your company “can touch anywhere”. Touch what exactly, and for what purpose? I guess we will have to use our imagination, but in this case first impressions will certainly not go in line with company expectations.
The importance of marketing is an area where both Korean start-ups and big businesses continue to have trouble. Marketing is far more than just putting pretty, or long, English words on your company’s sales collateral. The design, images and words you choose to present yourself need to reflect an understanding of the audience you want to connect with, and must also connect your brand to that audience, rather than confusing or insulting them. The overall message has to resonate with your target, or it runs the risk of looking sloppy and unprofessional.
To expand upon this notion consider the following menu translation:
The restaurant owner was clearly trying to express how delicious the food is, using a popular Korean idiom (둘이 먹다 하나가 죽어도 모른다). I know that most of you reading this article are not in the restaurant business but this ridiculous use of English serves to illustrate my next point. Effective marketing is not a case of simple translation. The process of creating a good advertisement – from conceptualization to production – must be done in the native language of its target by native speakers of that language.
There is good news. Now more than ever before there are foreigner-run businesses whose sole purpose is to address the communications needs of Korean companies, who have expertise in a range of business areas, and who have worked with companies of all sizes. There are professional translation services, print-ad designers, copy-editors and now – as in the case of my company – corporate and commercial film producers. Our company, NYK Media Group, has created media for Seoul-based businesses who need pitch-perfect English in order to compete in the global market.
So whether or not you reach out to me or foreigner-run businesses like ours, let me leave with this last bit of advice. If you are not communicating effectively to overseas customers with the English on your website, in your brochures, your ads or in your media then you are wasting your time and alienating yourself from opportunity.
About NYK Media Group: “American creativity from a Seoul-based video agency”. NYK's work translates both language and culture between Korea and the West, ensuring clients a smooth process with powerful results. The service is always the same: tell our client's stories in factual and engaging ways. The final product could be anything from a fifteen-second YouTube commercial to a full-scale ad campaign. NYK helps clients find the right format for their message then manages the production process from beginning to end. Check out their 2014 demo reel here.