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Marketing Translation: a Challenge

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marketing translation project

Marketing translations are in a league of their own.

Translating marketing content requires creativity, experience, and the ability to produce a content that is engaging, flows well and seems like was written for that language. Transcreation, or the process to adapt a content from one language to another, is important in the translation of marketing content since it helps cultural adaptation or making a copy ready for international consumption.

Unlike technical or legal translations that require a word for word exchange and leave little room for creativity in translation, the translation of marketing materials is culturally specific and must be created to resonate with a new audience without losing the meaning or voice of the original piece. A marketing translator must use its copywriting abilities to make the message effective and clear.

Why Marketing Translations Are Tricky 

Each field of translation services requires the professional translator to be versed in both the target language and the field they’re working in. Marketing translations are particularly trickly because the translator must also have a clear understanding of the brand’s voice and goals, as well as the cultural nuances of the target audience.

A professional marketing translator must first understand the purpose of a piece of marketing to create an accurate translation.

  • Does the content introduce the brand to a new audience, unveil an eagerly anticipated product, or build the brand values?
  • Who is the target audience for this piece? A particular local or country?
  • What are the critical elements to communicate?
  • Objective of the piece? How is it going to be used?

Without the translation company’s understanding of these elements for the communication, a translated marketing campaign or website is likely to fall flat or out of place.

In addition to an understanding of the company’s voice, the translator must also know and understand the culture of the target audience. The wording in a piece will often need to change to convey the same message across cultural lines.

Culture varies from country to country and within the demographics of a country’s population. It touches everything from languages, dialects, vocabulary, usage of words, and tone to societal norms and values. Culture encompasses most of the information we use to connect to an audience, so it’s vital to understand the culture of the country or area the new marketing piece is targeting.

Differences in culture also occur along generational, gender, and socioeconomic lines. Marketing attempts to bridge those distances by refining their messaging to communicate value across cultural lines.

The Nuances of Translating Marketing Materials

Not all translation projects are created equal. Legal translations leave little room for interpretation of the text and require no poetic license from the translator. On another hand, conveying your marketing message to an international audience is not as simple as plugging your slogan into Google Translate, it requires a thoughtful and creative process for the selection of words.

A literal translation on marketing material leaves behind a piece that doesn’t inspire action or convey emotion. Slogans and taglines communicate nuance and brevity, which often doesn’t translate well across cultural lines. Even a grammatically-correct translation can miss the mark when the right selection of words and cultural differences aren’t accounted for.

Slogans and catchphrases are heavily influenced by the culture in which they’re used, so to change the language is to change the culture of the target audience. To accurately translate marketing materials, a professional translation company must select the appropriate team

Common Challenges in Marketing Translations

The internet is full of mistranslations that can be funny, but that can also affect the image of the company that did not go the extra mile to proof or validate their translation projects.

Professional translators may encounter challenges when translating marketing materials. In other to avoid mistranslation, native and local speakers of the language need to work, analyze, and evaluate the final translated content.

Humor and Idioms

Humor is culturally specific and subjective to each language. What is comedic in one country may be considered low brow or offensive in another. Idioms are also culturally specific and will not translate well.

Advanced linguistic knowledge is required to not just translate a message into a target language, but to localize it into the regional dialect for the maximum impact.

Colors and Imagery

Just as humor and idioms change across cultural lines, so do the meanings of colors and imagery. A color considered to bring good fortune and luck in one culture may be the color of death or mourning in another.

Differences in Language Structure

There are thousands of living languages across the world, and each language has its own set of dialects. Each are unique with their own sentence structures, grammatical rules, expressions, idioms, vocabulary, and compound words. These rules impact how sentences are written and read and can present unexpected challenges in the layout of ads and websites.

For example, English is read left to right while Arabic is read right to left. The grammatical rules for the separation of syllables in a word differs between English and Spanish. Each of these translation projects require an understanding of text expansion and contraction in addition to the cultural nuances that go into crafting a message that resonates with your audience.

Cultural Differences

A cultural prism is the way a person from a certain area or region interprets and understands the world. Vast differences in cultural prisms can lead to two people seeing the same thing and taking away dramatically different reactions.

  • Is your target language direct and explicit, or implicit?
  • Is the target culture emotive and expressive, or neutral and reserved?
  • Does the tone in which a word is said change the meaning of the word?
  • Are there formal and informal ways to address your audience?
  • Does the culture place material items or family and community in higher value?

Professional translation agencies like JR Language only work with the most experienced native speakers in each field, professional and seasoned translators, so you can rest assured that your translation project is always linguistically and culturally correct.

Industry Experience

Marketing is necessary for companies across all industries to promote new products, reach new audiences, and drive sales. The selection of the right team of translators, with the proper set of skills is paramount. Industries are specialized and have their own vocabulary, acronyms, and meanings for a word. A professional translator with experience in Oil & Gas will not be the same selected for a marketing piece in the field of Information Technology.

A marketing translation needs to be correct within its field and must adapt to the target language’s culture of its audience. Using a professional translator with marketing and industry experience ensures your translation projects are correct and effective.

License to Adapt Content

When translating financial legal or HR materials, there is little room for poetic license in the translation. But in marketing, a translated version of an ad may look and sound different from its original version. A translator must be comfortable within a target language as well as with marketing best practices so they can create a piece that conveys the original message in a way the resonates with a new audience, while speaking in the company’s voice and field.

Translating marketing materials can be challenging when you consider all the cultural and linguistic nuances that go into creating an effective multilingual marketing content. Using a professional translation company like JR Language ensures your marketing materials will resonate with your target audiences across all languages and cultures around the world.

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.