How Strong Branding Transcends Language

If your brand aesthetic is strong enough, not even a foreign language will keep you from being recognized.

Where I live, in the United Arab Emirates, Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken but Arabic is part of the cultural fabric and local heritage, and that means any international brand looking to trade here must find a way to reinvent itself in Arabic script.

For many small brands that’s as simple is converting your name to Arabic and making new signs.

At the other end of the scale, more sophisticated brands will spend to have their logo recreated in a script custom-designed to match its Roman character counterpart. Fedex is an excellent example – the famous arrow now points the opposite way, as Arabic is read right to left.

Though few are as obvious, I noticed many international brands have such well-established visual languages that it was possible to identify them from the Arabic alone, finding clues in icons, colours, context or artifacts of typography that survived the transition. I started a collection so I could play a game of name that Arabic brand with friends back home.

A few fun examples after the jump.

Answers below…

1. Rolex
2. Ikea
3. Krispy Kreme
4. The Gap
5. Quiksilver