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Written by Steven Bussey
on August 05, 2020

As anyone who has used a free translation program like Google Translate can tell you, language translation is rarely an exact match at the outset - whole words can be misinterpreted, sentence structure lost and most people are left filling in the blanks in an attempt to make sense of what you are trying to say.

Comprehension and clarity while communicating can be difficult, even in our own native languages. To help facilitate understanding, we often rely on subtle nuances and tone to establish meaning. And while this certainly helps, this expressiveness doesn't exist in written form, meaning that text must be handled very carefully to prevent misunderstandings. So when translating materials for industries where communication is especially important, there are many facets to consider.

Today, we are shining a light on translation in marketing, an industry where it is crucial that content is clearly understood. Below we have collected five facts we have found are most important to keep in mind during marketing translation. 


1. Terminology isn't always typical

In business operations, direct word-for-word translation is often not enough to connect with a diverse market. Every field, spanning from the medical industry to public relations and tourism, has its own set of terminology, jargon and phrasing, so it can be particularly challenging to spread your message across cultural barriers. Words considered normal in one language may have an entirely different meaning in another. Because of this, text should be made clear and accessible so that no matter the language, the message can be universally understood. If the topic necessitates the use of certain keywords or phrases, make sure that the translators know so that an appropriate translation or culturally relevant alternative can be used instead.


2. Consistency across cultures is key

Translating written content for promotional and advertising purposes is called marketing translation or as coined in the localization industry, ‘transcreation’. It takes the whole procedure a step further than literal interpretations. To be successful, the process requires a clear understanding of how the overall character of a brand should be conveyed to the other culture and, ultimately, how the local target audience will perceive the message, which is where specialized processes such as glossary and multilingual style guide development come into play. Often with idioms, metaphors or copy that makes use of any play on words, marketing translation professionals will completely change (or transcreate) the reference or omit it entirely depending on the audience. This can potentially impact your branded image. Regardless, the goal is to relay a consistent brand voice through their messaging.


3. Symbols are sometimes subjective

Transcreation improves international marketing by considering cultural settings, including language constructs such as symbolism and even the nuances of color and its meanings in different regions. When adapting a marketing message from one language to another, transcreation will still fully uphold the brand’s original context in tone, style, meaning and intent. It’s a skill that requires a lot of creative input and knowledge of not only the local language, but also the specific cultural norms and values.

An excellent example of this practice is transforming your website’s content for multilingual markets so you can effectively reach more customers with not only your written copy, but for visual and auditory content as well.


4. Knowledge of nuances is needed

To gain a competitive advantage, businesses need to engage professionals who can help them understand and implement the subtle changes that will attract and engage their new target audiences.

Take, for instance, the advertising campaign launched in the UK in the 1960s by the Swedish brand “Electrolux” to promote its vacuum cleaners: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” This worked well in the UK, particularly because the visual marketing component showed the Leaning Tower of Pisa literally tipping into the powerful suction of the popular brand’s vacuum.

However, in the United States, this slogan had a totally different meaning in 1960’s North America. Although humorous now, 60 years ago, the slogan may have been interpreted as slang or vulgar, discrediting the company.

Marketing translation specialists can help you understand the social nuances of a statement so the right message reaches an age-diverse audience, as well. For example, in Japan, messaging for older and younger generations can be even more complex due to choices of writing systems (Kanji, Hiragana & Katakana) which can come into play depending on who you are addressing. There is no reason why a product can’t reach multiple age groups, and focused advertising and messaging will ensure that.


5. Options allow for optimization

Ensuring that your marketing efforts reach your intended market on-brand is not a straight forward endeavor. Fortunately, for business owners who want to take their brands international, there are trained professionals explicitly experienced in marketing translation and transcreation strategies.

Having a team of experts will help your business reach its audience with precision and accuracy, across international borders and generations alike. Using marketing translators and transcreators and by following best-practice processes of glossary development and multilingual style guide development, and by not over relying on translation automation, you’ll know your message isn’t lost in translation and is instead being delivered to appeal to a broad range of audiences.


Andovar at a glance

We here at Andovar do not believe in a one-size-fits-all solutions. Different organizations and industries face unique challenges. Whether you are dealing with budget or time constraints, globally dispersed review teams, or want to save money on translation, we are ready to discuss your business objectives. From adaptive processes to flexible resources and beyond, we will help you find the best solution to your challenges.

Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you with your next translation or localization project.


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