Translation of product packaging: why is it crucial to double check your text?

When you read a list of ingredients on a product packaging, probably the last thing you expect to see is an instruction related to translation for the local market. That’s what recently happened to me when I tried to analyse what’s inside chocolate candies produced by a popular brand. Below a list with sugar types, powders, syrups, concentrates and other substances the manufacturer cared to inform: Please translate as foreseen by your nutrition department. For Germany we need to label additional facts, therefore it is not a translation word-by-word
I’m glad to learn that the company localises its content for the local market, but
I’d be happier to know that it follows proper reviewing policies as well.


Translation comment found on a package of Smarties
Translation comment found on a package of Smarties


Check it once, check it twice, check it again

Similarly to all printed materials, product packaging needs to be carefully reviewed before releasing it to the market. Especially, if it’s a multilingual version of
a multinational brand. Assuming that the text on food packaging is for some reason less important and ingredient lists attract only a small group of readers can be misleading and counteractive. Every line of the original and translated text, may it be product description, addresses or item lists, requires close attention. Once the packaging design is ready, the content should be checked both by editors and by professional linguists. Not only proper layout, but also good style and correct use of language are important here. Checking if any item is missing or if the text contains unnecessary information, printed deliberately or by mistake, should be included in the reviewing strategy as well. 

Words are worthy too

Big brands tend to invest large amounts in marketing and innovative design. Packaging, colours, slogan, advertisements and billboards are all vital to the overall success. Text, no matter how fine the print is, carries a powerful message too. Underestimating its role may sabotage the efforts put into successful branding. Therefore proper translation, careful editing and reviewing can enhance the brand image and helps to avoid laps and mishaps.


Have you found any examples of missing translation or misplaced information on product packaging recently? How do you think it influences the brand image?



Dorota helps digital brands infuse their content with a local touch. She is a localization consultant, translator specialized in IT, prompt engineer, and a book author. Dorota teaches online courses on localization, writes for her blog and a Medium publication. She also runs a Small Biz AI, a Substack newsletter for freelancers and small business owners ready to discover handy AI tools.

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