Expanding Horizons: The Art of Translating Marketing Content

Expanding Horizons: The Art of Translating Marketing Content

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When you’re translating marketing content for a new market, there are often challenges that come up, leading to ineffective campaigns, wasted money, and, even worse, embarrassing situations that could have potentially been avoided.

Rather than being the victim of epic marketing translation blunders when undertaking a translation project, companies need to know what challenges they’re up against and prepare accordingly.

A good example of a translation gone wrong happened in 2009. HSBC Bank had to spend $10 million on a rebranding campaign after their catchphrase of “Assume Nothing” translated to “Do Nothing” in other countries.

The following are important things to know.

Consider How Your Messaging Will Translate

It sounds simple, but something often overlooked is a consideration of whether or not your brand messaging is going to be easily translated to the target language.

It could be that not only is the translation less than optimal, but there are also situations where the word choice can have offensive meaning in the target language.

The whiskey brand Canadian Mist failed in its expansion to German markets because mist in German means manure.

From here, think about whether you need to change your messaging altogether for your target language. You might be able to choose related words that don’t have a negative connotation. An experienced translator will be your best resource here.

Understanding Transcreation

A translator may transcreate words to create replacements that will work better in a foreign market.

There’s also a term—transliteration. Transliteration means that you change the sound or spelling of your original marketing or branding message in the script of your target language without thinking about the meaning. The word Adidas sounds pretty much the same in most markets, and it doesn’t have any meaning, so it can be used fairly universally.

With transcreation, you’re recreating your original brand meaning and then further changing the wording to get across a more acceptable brand message.

Content Marketing Translation

Your marketing translation needs are likely to go beyond figuring out a few keywords or phrases or perhaps tweaking your name.

You may need to translate all of your content marketing.

You’d have to work with a marketing translator that’s not only going to be able to put in place the appropriate linguistic translations for all of your content but also make sure that consumers are getting the key messages of your original content.

When you take on marketing content translation, your business is able to connect with a wider audience, opening you up to new markets and opportunities.

When you translate your content, you can also get more site engagement, and it will improve your SEO and competitive advantage.

You can also take advantage of emerging markets. For example, according to business experts in Africa, more than 72% of consumers are more likely to buy something if they can find product information in their own language.

Other Considerations

When you’re translating any marketing messages, some other things to remember include:

Marketing Translation

As you might realize from the above, is not a direct translation. Direct translation doesn’t focus on the outcome in the target language. Marketing translation is more strategic and is created to fit the brand and appeal to a target audience in their language. The goal is to create content that resonates in the same way as the original.

There needs to be a consideration for the local culture

This means images, for example, are important. A translator needs to understand the cultural implications of every element of marketing content.

Metaphors and Idioms Are Frequently Used in Marketing and Advertising Content and Copy

These aren’t going to be well-understood by audiences in varied geographical areas. They don’t translate well and can become problematic. The same is true of humor.

Slogans Are Also Difficult

The idea of creating an efficient slogan is that it embodies a brand or product in a succinct way that creates a sense of understanding. However, when a slogan doesn’t translate well, it creates significant brand and reputation damage.

Translating marketing content tends to be an intensive process. Along with the actual translations and creation of the content, it also includes copyediting, and from there, you can begin to build out a glossary and style guide that you can use to make content consistent.

With a style guide, then your language service providers will have something to follow for multiple markets that keeps your brand voice and message on track.

A style guide should include instructions on industry-specific terminology, use of language, acronyms, and abbreviations.


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