Travelling back to Europe this time last year, I was struck by something that really took me by surprise. We flew a different carrier / route to the ones we had flown before, but I will not be naming names, as there is nothing to be gained from public shaming. The airline was great, the in flight and transit staff a credit to the company and country, and the route itself was perfect. Yet there was something seemingly so simple that let the image down badly; the in flight magazine was literally impossible to read in parts. Frankly, I was completely stunned.
When I say impossible to read in parts, I am not referring to the editorial content, but the quality of the English language used to communicate the stories selected to be told. I really could not believe it. The magazine was written in the native language of the carrier, as you would expect, with English translation for each and every article. But unfortunately, the English translation was so poor that it rendered much of the content entirely lost on the reader. Whether a native English speaker, like myself, or one of the billions worldwide for whom English is an international language, the reader was left well and truly out in the cold by this piece of brand communication.
I could not understand it. Here was this excellent airline, flying the very latest Boeing and Airbus aeroplanes, employing wonderfully trained staff with excellent customer service skills, and clearly seeking to position itself as a global airline, yet failing at this most crucial, simple, and let’s face it in the scheme of airline logistics, little, things. For me so much of the good work of presenting their brand was undone by this small misstep. Why was this so?
I only hope that it was not a budget issue, as that would make it even more unforgivable. In the age of easy gig economy fixes, you can only imagine how tempting it is to cut corners. Of course, there are a hundred and one things to think about when running an airline before you need to consider translations for the in flight magazine, but do not make thing 102 an afterthought. Do not opt for the cheap Fiverr option that has the potential to undo so much of the good work you have done up to that point. Your word in your magazine is an extension of your brand, just as much as the quality of the plane you operate is, and the staff who fly it.
This is a true story. It led me to where I am now, which is using my years of experience in communications to help companies and brands express their message in a way that enhances their image. What you say and how you say it is critical to how you are perceived. Do not leave it up to chance by taking shortcuts.
It really is not worth it?