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'".