The phrase “Any language you like so long as it’s English” may (generally) work in North America, but each of Europe’s 70 or more languages is jealously guarded by some nation or region for whom it is part of the cultural heritage. This diversity is a major headache, particularly for brand managers who must pack two languages onto any product sold in Finland. For little Belgium, population 10 million, three languages are the legal minimum for all products.
When it came to test marketing a new drug Europe-wide, a major pharmaceutical group had a headache nothing could cure, until CCL Label in UK came up with a 48-page booklet label giving essential medical information in no fewer than 43 languages. The language patchwork of Europe means label converters are faced with much shorter runs (and higher costs) than their counterparts in North America; but it also gives a boost to booklet and fanfold labels, as well as digital label printing.