Common Challenges in Marketing Translation

The Role of Marketing for Companies

In an ever-expanding international market, communication is king. The way companies choose to convey their marketing efforts to different audiences can make or break the deal.

Launching or promoting a product, service or brand on a global scale poses specific challenges when it comes to conveying a unified message across different platforms and cultures. Mistakes that arise from insufficient linguistic research or the underestimation of transcreation (creative translation) needs can lead to disastrous results for a company’s reputation or sales.

Each culture has its history, icons, symbols, and elements that carry a specific meaning. Even if two countries speak the same language, words can be understood differently, and the same goes for visual imagery, phrases, and idioms. A well-translated message will ensure a correct understanding of every element the creative team had in mind when developing a content piece.

Exercising Creative Translating Muscles

When going global, corporate messages fulfill different business needs, from communicating a brand’s message and its value proposition to promoting a product or service. Multiple factors play a key role when creating content that meets these demands, as words, images, tone, and style need to work in unison. At the end of the day, marketing content combines verbal and non-verbal components and a simple literal translation just won’t cut it.

Literal translation can lead to potential loss of meaning and scant cultural adaptation, and this is why marketing translations require a more sophisticated approach known as transcreation. Language professionals need to dive deep into the cultural aspects of where the message will be displayed and guarantee that the key message is still conveyed, even if words change completely between the source (original piece) and the target text (newly translated piece).

Translating Marketing Content

Frequent Types of Marketing Translations

Marketing translations go far beyond the translation of a company’s logo or tagline. Among the most frequently translated marketing pieces, you will find:

  • Brochures (printed & online)
  • Online Ads
  • Billboards
  • Mailings and newsletters
  • Social media
  • Website
  • Press releases
  • Product descriptions
  • SEO attributes

Every single one of these pieces needs special attention when being transcreated, with careful consideration of the nuances in each language. Many companies have faced enormous backlash when insufficient attention was paid to transcreation. A foolish mistake could lead your brand to end up in a list of marketing fails.

Thinking ahead: Plan localization right from the start

The success of a multilingual marketing campaign depends largely on how content creators write the first piece. It is always extremely important to keep in mind that everything you develop will need to be replicated in different languages. Best practice suggests keeping sentences short and to the point, and avoiding jargon and anything that can create obstacles in the translation or transcreation process.

If done properly, you will even have a clear picture of what needs to be localized and what does not. Certain phrases, wordplay, puns or idioms won’t make any sense if literally translated and might not even have an equivalent in some languages or cultures, simply because that expression does not exist. Although it’s always tempting to include jokes and humor in a marketing piece, it might not be the best choice if you are aiming global.

Conveying your messages smartly and concisely across different platforms and languages will require investment and significant creative effort. Unless you have an in-house translation team, you will most likely need to rely on external language service providers. When choosing a translation partner, always remember to ask for test translations to check for quality and expertise.

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