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6 Tips for Translating Marketing Materials

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Marketing materials are their own special breed of translation services. While translating marketing materials doesn’t have the pressure and complexity that comes with legal translations or the technical language, there are unique considerations to address that don’t arise with other types of translations.

Launching a marketing campaign in a new language doesn’t mean starting from scratch, but you do need to bring a fresh eye to an existing campaign. What colors, images, names or slogans will resonate with a new audience? How can you convey your intended message without losing the meaning? What examples should be use?

Using a marketing translation agency is the best way to ensure accurate and culturally relevant translations. But to get you started in the process, we’ve rounded up 6 marketing translation best practices for you to consider.

What is Marketing Translation?

Translation of marketing documents and content like website and videos, is the act of taking marketing materials in one language and recreating it in another language. Since marketing relies on cultural nuances to create a connection with its intended audience, marketing translation services are often not a direct translation but a process that involves localization and a bit of creation, known in the translation industry as a transcreation.

Why Translate Marketing Campaigns?

In our globalized, digital world, it’s easier than ever for brands to expand their audience beyond country boarders. But audiences across the world don’t necessarily speak English or prefer it as their advertising language. Thus, translated marketing materials are key to success on an international scale. And in this day and age, it’s not optional to use your audience’s native language; it is crucial strategy for success.  A Common Sense Advisory Group Study reported 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase something if information is presented in their native language.

But translating marketing materials can be tricky. For example, ads must be short, memorable, and have an emotional resonance with the audience. This category is challenging, because you need to find which specific images or phrases stir emotion in the new audience, in the new language and those are often culturally specific. These changes over cultural lines are the reason marketing materials are rarely translated word for word, and instead undergo their own creation process of transcreation.

Before Translating Marketing Materials

A well-executed marketing campaign requires planning, and this holds true for a translated marketing campaign too. Before you start the translation process, there are a few steps to take first.

Determine Your Audience

Selecting the audience will help determine the languages needed for your marketing translation project.

How broad or narrow is your new audience? Is it global, national, or regional? What audience makes sense for your product and services? What languages do you need?  Your audience size and your budget determine your target languages. For instance, is a generic Spanish translation enough, or do you need to localize to Mexican Spanish and Spanish for Spain? While a global translation may save money in the short term, consider the long-term impact on the audience. A localized translation may cost more upfront, but it’s an investment in the impact on the intended audience.

There are many differences in usage of words, their meaning and spelling if you are doing a Portuguese translation for Brazil or if you are doing a Portuguese translation for Portugal. So the local or target audience where your Portuguese translation is going to be used is important.

Analyze Your Marketing Content

It is important to make an inventory of the content that needs translation and to revise if your content is ready for translation or needs adjustment before embarking in translation services. During this analysis, it is also important to establish bilingual glossaries and a style guide for the translation project. Determine if you are going to have support for in-country review of the translated content and discuss goals, timeline and priorities for the project. 

While your team can analyze the marketing content, it’s best to bring in a third party with a fresh viewpoint, like a professional translation agency. These in-market experts will review the existing marketing materials and campaigns and identify elements that won’t resonate with the new audience. These may include images, metaphors, phrases, or even colors.  Starting with this step can help you determine how much of your campaign needs to change to resonate with your target audience.

A professional translation agency will also have important feedback on the end design of the campaign, thinking through issues like text expansion in translation. This analysis is done in conjunction with your existing marketing team to ensure brand alignment in the final product.

On another hand, if website translation is needed in your project, special analysis and consideration will need to be addressed including technical and linguistic aspects

6 Best Practices for Translating Marketing Materials Localizationis Key.

1. Localization is Key

Localizing is essential for all translation services projects; without localization your marketing materials might fall flat. It is vital for the translation company to know your audience to localize the content properly. Linguistic systems vary between countries and between countries that have the same language also, so it’s important to ensure you’re using language that resonates with your audience. Localization extends beyond words into abbreviations, idioms, numerical and measuring systems too.

Does your audience use period or a comma to denote tens and thousands? What numbers are lucky or unlucky?  13 is perceived as unlucky in Western cultures, while four is unlucky in China. Colors can also be culturally specific and should be modified accordingly. In western culture, white is associated with peace and purity, but in some Asian cultures, white is the color of mourning and misfortune.

Localization is also important within a language. UK English is different than US English in the usage of words and in spelling, for example the spelling of the word localization is:

English – UK


English -USA


2. Be Mindful of Humor

Humor isn’t global. In fact, it may not even be the same within a large country. What’s funny in one language may be offensive in another, so it’s important to understand the cultures and humor styles of the languages you’re translating into.

This extends to puns and idioms as well. While common in marketing copy, these turn-of-phrases are highly culturally and geographically specific and unlikely to translate well. For instance, the English idiom “raining cats and dogs” has a Spanish version “ Está lloviendo a cántaros” o “está cayendo un aguacero” both meaning it’s really coming down but nothing to do with cats and dogs….

3. Translate Videos and Imagery

Marketing materials aren’t just print ads or billboards. Image captions, alternative text, infographics, and video captions must be both translated and localized. In addition to being a good marketing strategy, video translation services give you captions for video content, which is an accessibility best practice to allow your content to reach a wider audience, including the deaf and hard of hearing community. In addition to multilingual subtitles, multilingual voice-over is another way to make your video multilingual.

4. Understand impact on design and usage of space

It’s common for text to expand or contract during translation, which means the final piece’s layout may look different from the original and will need adjustments. This holds true for both digital and print pieces, from website to brochure translations.

It is a good practice to design from the beginning with enough white space to allow for expansion and review the translated content to adjust the design or typesetting of the translated content. That is one of the benefit of working with a translation agency that has team of  multilingual designers and typesetter to manage the multilingual  DTP on the projects.

5. Be Concise, be mindful of Slogans

When you are writing a marketing content that is going to be translated, the copywriter should use simple sentences and avoid double meaning or cultural references.

Brevity may be a standard marketing best practice that saves time during the translation process. Review your slogans and tag lines so they are relevant and proper for your international campaigns. These are often culturally specific and won’t translate well.

6. Don’t Forget about International SEO

The same way you create a SEO campaign for the primary intended market, new markets will require the study of the relevant keywords and search style of the new audience.

Did you know that search engine patterns change by country? Did you know that the translation of a term might have 3 different options and you might need to use all of them? Digital marketing requires translation and updates to reach an international audience. When enlisting website translation services or targeting blogs to a particular language, you need to conduct keyword research in the appropriate language, not just in the source language. The same blog may reach two audiences in different countries, with the same language and using 2 different keywords.

Experienced Translation Company

You need a lot more than knowledge of two languages to translate marketing materials for an international audience or provide professional website translation services. JR Language is a professional translation company with the experience, human resources, and technology to partner and support your company in the journey of translating marketing content. Your company  will have a team of project manager, localization engineers, designers, linguists and professional translators that understand more than the target and source language; with field expertise in marketing, years of working with international audiences, and deep understanding of the cultural nuances that are key to a multilingual marketing campaign’s success.

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela. Jackie has a BS in computer engineering; As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.