KFC turned PFK: Translation AND Localization are Equally Important

On a road trip up to Montreal, Quebec for some fun, I decided that a strong desire for some of the Colonel’s Original Recipe was getting the better of me. After 6.5 hours of driving, the craving was growing stronger than ever, and with Montreal being a major city, I figured we are bound to find a KFC sooner or later. Before we knew it, there it was. Only, I couldn’t help but notice that they had the lettering backwards… or scrambled… or huh?!  With further examination, I realized that the letters weren’t the same at all. It was the same ol’ Colonel’s face posted on the same red background with vertical white stripes—but the lettering read “PFK.” Totally bewildered, I sat there staring, remembering that in my travels to Europe, franchises like McDonald’s were always, well, McDonald’s. At first I didn’t think that PFK (Poulet Frit Kentucky) was the translation of the well-known Kentucky Fried Chicken, but then I remembered that Montreal is a part of French Canada.

PFK in Montreal

This led me to realize that although other franchise names do not change internationally like KFC changes to PFK, their menus certainly do get modified. The staples of the fast food industry, which we are so familiar with, conflict with certain geographic locations and therefore need altering. We all remember the iconic Pulp Fiction scene where Jules enlightens Vince that France refers to a McDonald’s “Quarter Pounder with Cheese” as a “Royale with Cheese.”

quarter pounder 1quarter pounder 2

Language is such a vital and ever-changing concept in respect to location. Evidently, franchises around the world realize that a truly important aspect of culture is localization. Therefore, they have made their establishments more locally friendly and altered details here and there to relate to the people they are serving. Smarter, more successful companies use Language Service Providers… and rightly so.

Next time, you’re out having some finger-lickin’ good chicken, remember how important it is to localize, and remember this post as a great conversation starter. Although, I’m sure your mouth will be used for eating, not talking!



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