Brand names are what companies all over the world use to achieve recognition for their brand in consumers’ minds, and to create a character that stands out among a sea of competition. You don’t read the word McDonald’s while driving on the road, you don’t even need to see the word, all it takes is a glimpse of a yellow M to know that this is a McDonald’s.
That’s why I unknowingly took it for granted that the letters that make the brand name were the most important part of the branding package…until I saw it in Arabic. Translating brands have never crossed my mind before, even though Arabic is my first language. Again because I’ve always thought of brand names as more of shapes than English letters. Also it might be important to note that brand names are not really “translated” in meaning, but rather written in Arabic letters.
Dubai is one of the biggest shopping destinations in the world, and even though expats make up more than 90% of its population, the city is equally in Arabic as it is in English. It’s interesting in what this fact represents in many translation aspects, especially in its many malls.
Some stores are instantly recognizable in Arabic, without needing to read the word. Maybe it’s the collection of how the word is written, the font, the colors, the background…etc. But just think of how hard it must be to keep it original and communicate the same visual in an entirely different language (and a right-to-left one).
Below are examples of Arabic branding (with their English names) of some of the most recognizable brands.