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How Translation and Localization Can Save Your Brand Overseas

Creating a clever and successful marketing campaign can be challenging enough to do effectually in English. After all, marketing materials are often catchy and clever, using plays on words to get your message out in a way that effectively resonates and reaches your target audience. So, how can you make sure to overcome the challenges of translating your message to maintain these nuances of language?


It is not enough to simply translate your materials word-for-word into another language. The translated content should have the same effect on your target audience as the original text has your English-speaking audience. Here are a couple of challenges companies may face when translating marketing materials.

· Keeping creativity in your slogan, tagline and advertising copy. Your slogan is important; it is likely one of the first things a customer sees and remembers about your company! A good slogan is catchy and easy to remember. And your translated slogan should be just as catchy or clever in the target language in order to captivate this audience in the same way.

The same can be said for all of your advertising copy, really. Marketing content often utilizes plays on words, metaphors, humor, idioms, and puns. A great translation will not be a word-for-word copy of your content. Instead, it should be an equivalent and acceptable rendition of the same humor and/or clever copy into the target language employing that language’s idioms and word plays. It should come across as naturally as possible to your target audience.

· Adapting your brand. Your brand is what makes you you. It makes you stand out from your competitors, and having a solid brand is key to winning over your audience. Your logo and imagery should be consistent in look and feel. However, there may be instances when you need to adapt some of your branding depending on the culture of the area where your marketing content will be received. This is handled via a process called localization. If your company uses a lot of red in its imagery, which can often signify passion and excitement in Western cultures, you may want to consider changing these hues when marketing in the Middle East, where red often evokes feelings of danger and caution.

You should also consider the target culture when choosing images for marketing campaigns and advertisements. You’ll want to consider what people in the target country or region find appealing (or offensive!) and make sure your content reflects that as well.

Although the process of translating your marketing materials can seem daunting, thankfully there are expert linguists who specialize in doing just that. Using a professional to handle your marketing translations will ensure you avoid potential blunders and snafus with translated content. A professional is available for every step of the process, including translating the materials in a way that renders your message clearly and naturally, and assisting you with localizing your content appropriately so that you can rest assured that your message is reaching the audience you desire in the way you originally intended. After all, your brand is on the line.

How Partnering with a Translation Agency Will Maximize Your Marketing Efforts

Translating your marketing content can have huge benefits for your company, especially if you have partnered with an agency that is well-suited for helping you meet your goals in foreign-language markets.  Here are a few tips for working with a translation agency when it comes to maximizing your marketing campaign efforts:


1. Know your audience. As important as this is in marketing in general, it’s just as important in translation of marketing materials. Where does the ideal audience live and work? What dialect do they speak? Do a little homework on the group you want to reach so that you can provide this information to the agency you choose for your project.

2. Inquire about localization. Whether your content will be in print, on your website or part of a social media outreach plan, localization encompasses more than the translation of a text to reach a specific population. It incorporates the entire concept of the message via the terminology, language, images, colors, etc. used to be relevant to the audience in a specific region or locale. Localization allows you to avoid promoting content that might be offensive in another culture so that you can truly sell your brand well to consumers.

3. Ask about the translators assigned to your project. The translators who handle your marketing content should specialize in the type of translation you require. You wouldn’t want a medical translator who is a native speaker of Chilean Spanish to translate your site’s digital brochures meant for customers in Mexico City. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your project manager about a translator’s credentials so that you can feel confident the work is in good hands.

4. Don’t leave a translation request for the last minute. As soon as you know about the translation project and have the final document in hand, reach out to the translation agency so that the project manager can begin assembling the right team to handle your specific materials. Be up front about your preferred turn-around time on the project. Allow for adequate time to translate your content accurately and professionally.

5. Feel free to request the same team of linguists if you are pleased. If you are pleased with the work the agency has completed for you in the past for you, it is perfectly okay to ask that they utilize the same translators, editors and proofreaders that handled your previous projects. Agencies keep track of the teams it assigns for each project, and ensuring consistency can be as simple as maintaining the same team to work on projects that require similar terminology and context.

Marketing Your Website To a Global Community: Transcreating Your Brand

You may have heard us talk about "transcreation" before. It's a term that we adopted from a colleague and friend, Joe Kutchera, author of Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content. Our CEO, Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo reviewed Joe's book in Multilingual Magazine a few years ago and one of the chapters that intrigued us most was Chapter 8: "Localizing your website for Latinos". Ok, we admit that we were intrigued by every chapter, but this one really stood out to us. Many of our clients request translation and localization of their print materials, but they don't always take into account that the way most of their clients find them is via the internet. Yet, a lot still have not translated the text on their site, nor localized the images and language used to fit their multilingual and multicultural target markets. We like to tell our clients that we want to "transcreate" their sites and materials, not just translate and localize them. Yes, both of these are part of the transcreation process, but it's important that companies like ours offer their services in a way that allows our clients' marketing materials to stand out and maintain the heart and message of the brand itself. This means that not only are we translating the text and making sure that images, colors and other visual aspects are appropriate for the target market audience, but we also take it a step further and have our in-country reviewers (i.e. reviewers that look for certain elements in the produced material that will ensure that the brand's message carries over not only to those who speak the foreign language on U.S. soil, but also in the country or countries where the language is spoken).

A basic example of this is the too-often seen image of a man sleeping by a cactus on anything that has to do with Mexico. Many times in the U.S. we see this image on Mexican restaurant signage. However, for most Mexican nationals, this image is offensive, as it promotes a sense of laziness in the culture that could not be further from the truth. In-country reviewers would never allow such an image to appear on marketing materials for a company who wants to do business in Mexico or in the U.S. with the Latino market.

Another element is the language used. Sadly, many people are too quick to integrate a plug-in on their site that allows visitors to click on their language and suddenly the page is translated into what claims to be an accurate translation in another language. However, many of these plug-ins are simply electronic translations that are pulling information from all over the web to match up words and produce a text within seconds that is mostly incomprehensible. This type of plug-in shows multilingual visitors that the company does not care enough about its site and marketing to take the time to reach them properly. They will know that the information was not written for them, and most will not bother to try to decipher the jumble that remains once they click. Think about this carefully....yes, it's free and quick, but would you feel that a company cared about you as a customer if you could not even read their site coherently? We would not, and most people we know would not.

Take the time to get a quote from a professional language service and see what you can do to reach out to a global community. You'd be surprised how much more traffic will be driven to your site, and the market you will attract just by reaching out and transcreating your brand.

We'll leave you with something tweeted by a skilled translator recently...oh, the irony.

"So sad to have to translate stuff like this [...] 'To help you navigate our website, please use Google translate, a third-party service that provides automated computer translations'".