It will celebrate its birthday on 1 August 2020 and turn 729 years old. It’s a popular destination for skiers, with its mountains attracting thousands every year, and art and culture are also key elements of its economy and intangible heritage.
I’m sure you guessed we were talking about Switzerland, but we also associate this impressive little country with more than just mountains, winter sports, chocolate, cheese, watches and pocket knives. With high levels of reliability, punctuality, expert consulting, the finest craftsmanship, and exclusive products that you can fully expect to last a lifetime, Switzerland has a worldwide reputation for top quality and perfection.
As our national holiday draws near, we find ourselves asking the following questions: “What do consumers around the world associate with the Swiss brand?” Why is “Swissness” so sought after and when is it really worth your while to rely on Swiss products and services?
Switzerland takes the gold in the quality stakes
When it comes to quality, Switzerland has been playing in the premier league for decades. Companies have recently come to the realisation that they can capitalise on this outstanding reputation in their own marketing endeavours. Brands such as the Swiss knife manufacturer Victorinox, Emmentaler Switzerland, Tissot watchmaker and biscuit producer Kambly proudly advertise with the Swiss coat of arms – even incorporating it into their logos.
And with great success, too, since products and services branded with the Swissness label enjoy a clear competitive advantage over comparable foreign products thanks to the trust inherent in such a trademark. As studies carried out by ETH Zurich and the University of St. Gallen show, consumers are prepared to spend up to 50% more on products that use Switzerland as a seal of quality.
When it’s Swiss in name only
Foreign companies also want to cash in on this and benefit from the Swissness premium. It’s no wonder, then, that the Swiss brand is often misused and attached to products that are neither produced in Switzerland nor possess anywhere near the quality usually associated with genuine Swiss manufacturing. Swiss legislation clearly stipulates when a product or service may be advertised using the coveted “red-and-white cross“. Anyone who wants to score legitimate points with the “Swiss made” label and profit from the added value of the Swiss brand must ensure that their product or service is really Swiss on the inside as well as on the outside.
Narrow-minded or truly in the consumer’s interest?
Is our zeal to protect the Swiss cross and the Swiss brand by any means necessary a sign of Swiss “petite bourgeoisie”, or is it primarily to protect Swiss producers and consumers? According to the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, the “misuse and misapplication of Swissness has led to the ‘Swiss’ brand losing its image and value, which damages those companies that are using the ‘Swiss’ brand correctly. This, in turn, leads to a loss of confidence by consumers, who consequently look for more reliable alternatives.”
One thing is very clear. Manufacturers who produce in Switzerland and rely on services and raw materials available in Switzerland lose money when the Swiss trademark is abused. However, being able to trust the quality seal of the Swiss cross is also in the consumer’s interest.
When Swissness pays off
If, for once, you end up taking a bite of a non-Helvetian chocolate bar, it’s unlikely to have a long-term effect on your palate (although it’s certainly not without reason that chocolate from the land of the Alps enjoys the reputation of the best chocolate in the world). For certain services, however, it can cost consumers more than disappointed taste buds if they can’t count on the coveted Swiss quality, e.g. for language services such as translations, communication services, proofreading, editing and multilingual corporate solutions.
When “ail des ours” (wild garlic) suddenly becomes “garlic of the bears”
Last year, the German equivalent of “garlic of the bears” ended up on the shelves of Swiss supermarket Migros instead of wild garlic after a failed French to German translation, and in 2014 Swiss frying butter became “burro per arrostire svizzeri” (“butter for frying Swiss people”) at the same retailer. What might make consumers laugh and, at worst, put them off buying a product can quickly become not only embarrassing for companies but can also damage their image and reputation – resulting in high, unnecessary costs to repair the error.
Some time ago, for example, UBS ran a commercial with the German proverb which translates as “You can’t have the 5-Räppler (coin) and the Weck (popular Swiss bread roll)”. The Italian translation read as follows: “Il centesimo e il panino” (literally, the penny and the bread roll), but the message didn’t positively impact the Italian-speaking population, because the proverb should have been translated figuratively into Swiss-Italian instead of word for word. An English equivalent would have been “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. If a similar Italian saying had been used, it would have conveyed the bank’s advertising message better and avoided confusion in Italian-speaking Switzerland (not to mention justifying the bank’s advertising expenditure).
It was certainly an expensive mistake that could have been prevented with a good Swiss language services provider familiar with the linguistic nuances of our four national languages.
5 reasons why companies that want to communicate successfully in Switzerland should rely categorically on Swiss language services providers
All right so far, but what are the specific advantages for Swiss companies if they choose Swiss language services providers (LSPs)?
1. Swiss LSPs understand the linguistic particularities of Switzerland’s four official languages
Take a short train ride from German-speaking Switzerland into French-speaking Switzerland and you will be greeted with a friendly “Bonjour” instead of a “Grüezi”. In the canton of Grisons, you would hear “Bun di”, and anyone travelling to Ticino can look forward to a melodic “Buongiorno”. With its four official languages – and even more dialects – Switzerland is fairly bursting with linguistic diversity. However, what is a charming aspect of Switzerland for tourists (it’s worth travelling to a little village in Grisons just to hear locals speaking Romansh) can result in significant additional costs for companies.
Translations of communication measures into all four languages must be perfectly in tune with the linguistic and stylistic peculiarities of the respective official language, as this is the only way to ensure that customers feel that the message is aimed at them, no matter which language it is in. A Swiss LSP is absolutely indispensable here because communication services providers from outside Switzerland simply do not possess the native expertise to deal with the finer points of the four languages.
2. Swiss LSPs are familiar with local events and idiosyncrasies
Messages must be adapted to target audiences in different linguistic and cultural regions. Localisation processes are a key element of content creation and translation. Whether you’re dealing with cultural, political or economic issues, you can only benefit from using local LSPs if you want to communicate successfully because they’re the ones who know their country and local situation like the back of their hand.
3. Swiss LSPs stand out from the crowd with highly qualified staff and comprehensive support from A to Z
In Switzerland, priority is placed on expert service and solid customer support. It’s hard to find any other country with as high a density of qualified specialists as there is in Switzerland. This means local LSPs can also deliver better results thanks to well-trained employees who are specialised, knowledgeable language professionals and offer premium service that really pays off.
4. Swiss LSPs with ISO certifications offer the highest security and confidentiality
If you rely on an ISO-certified Swiss language services provider, you can expect consistent first-class performances and the highest degree of data security. Professional providers demonstrate their quality advantage over competitors with a certification according to ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems) and ISO 17100 (Translation Services) – although it is definitely worth checking whether the processes are merely labelled ISO-compliant or if the language services provider is actually ISO certified, signifying that they have passed an audit by an independent auditing company.
5. Swiss LSPs build on personal contacts and sustainable partnerships
Swiss language services providers attach great importance to forming sustainable, stable and long-term partnerships with their clients. Top-quality services are guaranteed thanks to personal relationships and direct contact partners, individualised service and tailor-made solutions, as well as compliance with ethical principles. Swiss LSPs understand not only the literal language you require, but also its cultural and ethical aspects. This means it really does pay to rely on Swissness and its globally recognised premium quality – especially if you want your message to reach your target groups in Switzerland.
SwissGlobal offers first-class language services with the outstanding Swiss quality you expect. All of our processes are ISO certified – guaranteeing maximum data security, highly competent linguists, and state-of-the-art technologies, while our knowledge of local linguistic and cultural nuances is a matter of course.
At SwissGlobal, we make sure that neither grizzly garlic nor butter for frying our fellow citizens will end up in your pan. We ensure that we live up to the reputation associated with the Swiss brand and provide high-quality, individualised solutions for your texts – and we do it all as reliably as Swiss clockwork
- Language Services
- Swiss Quality