Translating Brand Names
By brand names we mean Trademarks but also some other recognised but not, yet,
trademarked names. Brand names are emerging as the differentiator within Free
Software and people are becoming protective over them, i.e. they don’t like you
translating them or using them without permission. Examples include
(registered or otherwise) Mozilla, OpenOffice.org, KDE, Red Hat, Debian, etc.
Most brand names are easily left as is while some are tempting to translate:
- OpenOffice.org: Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress – are all translatable. You
team needs to define its policy on this..
- Mozilla: Editor, Mail & News – are all translatable. Unlike The
OpenOffice.org case these are probably best translated. A user would say I
edit my webpages with the Mozilla Editor. Unlike OpenOffice.org were a user
might say ‘to do that you need to open Calc and go to...’. Editor is much
more generic than the OpenOffice.org examples.
- KDE: kaddressbook – an unoriginal name for an application. This
probably should be translated. But be aware a user can only run kaddressbook
from the command line by actually typing ‘kaddressbook’ it will not work if
they type the translated name, this is not an issue if your users make use of
the GUI and not the command line.
Want a quick and easy policy on brand names?
Do not translate any brand or application name
- If it works in your language leave it
- If it is an obscure application maybe change it
- Think of derivatives. Eg. OpenOffice.org has Draw which you might want to
keep and Drawing for drawings produced by Draw which you would want to
translate. Does this make it confusing to the user?
- Be consistent. Writing down your policy and reasons saves you having to
explain things a hundred times. And policies can be changed.
- If needed, think about transliterating the name so that people can understand
how it is pronounced. This is similar to the idea of transliterating