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What You Should Know About Marketing Translations

marketing translation know importance

Last updated on November 30th, 2017 at 01:29 pm

marketing translation what you should know
You’ve found incredible business success in your local market. Now you’re ready to take your product to the world.

You’ve already done your market research. You know which countries are a good market of the products and services that you have to offer.

Now, the focus is on creating brand awareness to penetrate a new market.

What do you need to know about marketing in a foreign country?

How will your marketing materials translate to resonate in a new market?

Let’s explore what you need to know to make your marketing translations a success.

Getting Lost in Translation

The Message

To be effective, marketing materials must speak directly to your target customer. They evoke an emotion, solve a problem.

They appeal directly to that customer’s most inner needs.

Now, you move into a new language market.

Can the customers still relate to your message?

Can your message evoke the same feelings in the new market?

Will it make any sense within the cultural and religious foundation of the country, region or local community?

Your message must connect with the target audience. This connection isn’t as automatic as it may seem. 

When getting marketing translations, it’s important to work with someone who will understand not just how to translate the words, but the message, in a way that relates to your target audience.


That’s hilarious.

You were rolling the floor when your marketing team came up with it. It’s been a huge hit in your local market, having the exact effect you were looking for.

Now you’re taking that to a new language market.  

You have to ask yourself: will this be funny in this market?

Be careful when trying to translate humor into another market.

Your professional translator may translate every word perfectly. That doesn’t mean anyone who reads the target language is going to laugh.

Metaphors, Jokes, Idioms

This is a big one. You need to stop and think about neutral copy.

Metaphors, Jokes and Idioms are very specific to each language and culture. Developed over centuries of unique cultural experiences, they most often don’t translate at all. 

Sometimes they translate directly. And sometimes they leave people scratching their heads. 

Your translator may need to say it in a completely different way.

What are you doing when you “pitch a tent”? Throwing it?

If something “costs an arm and a leg”, how much do I pay for it? Why do you want my arms and legs?

“It’s raining cats and dogs”.  really?

When translating a phrase like “Wait until the alarm goes off” in a Spanish Translation, you’d need to change it literally to “Wait until the alarm goes on” if not people will be very confused!

What may make perfect sense to you in your native language could create a translation disaster or a misunderstanding.

And worst of all, because these “sayings” are so ingrained into the language center of our brains, we often don’t even realize that we’re using them.

It’s important to understand the potential for problems when you use those literary resources in your marketing materials.

Work with a professional translation company that will handpick an experienced translator to work on your content piece, who will recognize when something will “make no sense” or if it is a risk in the target language. A translation company also adds as a quality step proofreading and validation of the copy- another translator will validate and verify the translated copy with it source for correctness and quality of the message.

Getting What You Pay For

So you think you’ll save money on your marketing translations by adding a plugin and just letting a machine translation software translate your materials or create your website translation for you.

Think again! This will cost you a lot more than it saves you. 

Your investment into infrastructure in the market is all for nothing when you do not pay attention to the message and translated content.

Your sales team will likely be laughed at.


Because, for the reasons explained above, computers cannot yet translate a source language into the target language in a way that will sound natural or, in many cases, even be understood. Remember, the quality of your translated marketing material also reflects on your brand

Computers cannot understand context. Computers cannot work well in all the language combinations without a professional native speaker revising and editing the output. Some Language pairs work better than others but you need a human to correct and validate even a simple sentence. Some language combinations do not work at all! It also depends on the content and the way it is written. You need to test and evaluate content quality.

Below is an example of a simple sign translated into Spanish by a machine. As a native Spanish speaker I can tell you that the Spanish translation does not make sense- Liberty of Cutting Services??

machine translation error to spanish






Another money saving option is the use of translation mills.

These sites have few if any quality standards, anyone can work for them — and even if they gave you samples you really don’t know if those were actually done by that person.

You can find the occasional diamond in the rough. But most of the time, you will get a sub-par translation from these locations.

Translation is a high-level skill. Even very small translations can take hours to complete. It is a creative task that requires knowledge of the Language, Culture and of the content.

If you want marketing translations that will make you money rather than cost you, invest in a quality translation for all customer-facing documents and files.


The Native Difference

It’s possible to become so fluent in a second, third or sixth language that you sound like a native speaker.

But it’s very rare.

Given all of the nuances involved with translating and speaking a language, it’s incredibly difficult for something not to sound “a little off” in the translation.

In marketing translations, the smallest deviation from what sounds normal has the potential to completely derail your message and impact.

As a general rule, when hiring a translator, you want someone who is fluent in the source language (the one that you’re translating from) and native in the target language (the one that you’re translating to).

Quality Assurance

If you aren’t a speaker of Korean, how do you know if your marketing translations sound right to a Korean speaker? 

In a worst-case scenario, you don’t find out until after the translation blunder has been broadcast to the entire country.

This is why quality assurance and quality control comes into place 

A high-quality translation will involve at least 2 professional translators with 2 steps and sometimes even more steps. If you have a website or a InDesign document that needs modifications to present to the final reader, your client or the user of the content, you’ll need-

  1. A translator 
  2. A proofreader/editor

In some more complex marketing translations, you may also have a copywriter involved who will make sure that the translation upholds best copywriting practices for that target language. 

Often the translator is also a trained copywriter, called a transcreator in respect to translations. A transcreator more extensively adapts your translation to reach the target audience.

Who are the other members of the supporting team?

  1. Localization engineer for website and apps to ensure they display and perform well with the functionalities of the source application.
  2. Graphic Designer for brochure and PDF files to adapt sizes and designs after translation
  3. Project Managers – Coordinating the execution of the project and orchestrating the proper order of the resources and activities for the success of the project.

When your Marketing translation matters you need experience, know-how, state-of-the -art technology and the proper linguists for required quality assurance.  All are part of the team that is going to support your International marketing effort.


Why Okay Doesn’t Cut it in Marketing Translations

If your marketing translations matter, then okay just isn’t enough. You can’t afford mistakes. 

You need precision, expertise, the right team and quality assurance to reach your target customers. Don’t miss out on reaching a new customer base because of poor translations.

We speak your customer’s language. We employ the right resources and we invest in technology to be on top of the trends in the Translation and Localization Industry

Contact us today for a free quote

We help you take your reach and products to the global marketplace.



Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela and 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. 20 Years of experience in marketing Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.