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Communication Failures and the Cases of Their Solution in Business

One of the main reasons for communication failures is insufficient awareness of the other’s culture and traditions, lacking background knowledge, and intentions to learn it. An accurate translation can improve the brand message and convey the desired meaning. However, some companies, such as Target Corporation, already have an established negative reputation regarding cross-cultural communication. The scandal called the Urine Sandal caused adverse outcomes for the company. Therefore, it is essential to analyze the roots of the issues, how the intercultural failures can be eliminated, and the brand’s appropriate behavior in public after the reputational damage.

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The Triangle of Meaning by Ogden and Richards is a model of the connection between three categories: interpreters, referents, and symbols. A referent is a real-world object, an image that arises in people’s minds (Tuleja, 2017). A symbol is the name of an object accepted in society (Tuleja, 2017). Regarding the Target case, the mislabeling is rooted in different frames of reference. For some, “orina” means “peace” and “peaceful,” and it is not wrong in one frame (Tuleja, 2017). However, for instance, for the Hispanic population, the word signifies urine, which has led the company to great embarrassment and reputational damage (Tuleja, 2017). Sivers (2009) also provides examples of differences, emphasizing that the opposite of the one meaning can also be true for others. Hence, even though intentions are good, a failure in communication might arise.

Concerning branding mishaps, it is crucial to interpret and classify the background knowledge from the point of view of cultural studies, linguistic and regional considerations, and psychology. In intercultural communication, it is necessary to realize and take into account the differences in the categorical representations of various societies and peoples, that is, in the cultural-conceptual pictures of the world (Tuleja, 2017). According to Smit (2015), there is nothing good and bad about cultures; there are only differences. However, in the case of Target, incidents quite often arise when advertisers underestimate the role of negative associations or do not know about them.

The most prominent example of how these issues can be reduced is Coca-Cola. The company decided to sell its products in China and translated its name into Chinese. The organization went through 40 thousand hieroglyphs before choosing the sounding characters, the combination of which would mean “happiness in the mouth” (Tuleja, 2017, p. 159). Therefore, to prevent reputational damage for Target corporation, the pragmatic adaptation of texts and names is often required. It is suggested that the translator determine and make specific changes in the expression’s meaning to achieve the target audience’s desired reaction.

With regard to the optimal ways for Target to communicate with customers and the media, it is recommended to pay attention to customer loyalty on the Internet. Besides, it is crucial to engage in dialogue with the media as the party that withdraws from the incident and does not declare its point of view towards the incident is considered guilty. As on social media platforms, brand miscommunication is noted first; addressing negative commentaries and maintaining a positive reputation can have a beneficial effect on the Target case. Negative comments help correct mistakes and become better from customers’ perspective; it is advised to thank for reviews on the Internet that improve its reputation.

To sum up, unintentionally created cultural shock cases can occur in multiple intercultural communication areas, including advertising. Consequently, a satisfied customer will become even more loyal and, possibly, a brand advocate. Moreover, the PR department needs to be more careful with dissatisfied clients; otherwise, it can ruin the reputation on social media platforms. The Target Corporation case is an example of improper addressing of branding mishaps. Overall, the company should inform that measures have already been taken to diminish such risks in the future.

References

Sivers, D. (2009). Weird, or just different [Video]. TED. Web.

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Smit, C. (2015). Humor and culture in international business [Video]. TED. Web.

Tuleja, E. A. (2017). Intercultural Communication for Global Business: How leaders communicate for success. Routledge.

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StudyCorgi. "Communication Failures and the Cases of Their Solution in Business." September 26, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/communication-failures-and-the-cases-of-their-solution-in-business/.

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