Tips for Marketing translation

Launching a marketing campaign in a new language market can be a tricky affair.  Without a keen cultural eye, even the best-planned campaign can falter. Here are  some tips for taking a corporate website, product packaging or ad campaign across cultures.

  • Analyze the original.  Your source text should be reviewed by someone in market for images, phrases or concepts that might not work in all countries, such as some sports pictures, metaphors and idiomatic expressions. Having this feedback before translation begins can help you decide whether to change the original in order to have consistency across translations, or to give your translation provider license to use the images and metaphors most effective in the target languages. In an ideal scenario, the writer of the source materials has been trained in writing global-friendly content.
  • Allow enough time and budget. Marketing translation takes time. Don’t expect the same timeline or costs as when translating technical or general business documents.  The content tends to be more nuanced and its meaning more open to interpretation. Headlines, taglines and copy will require extra attention and multiple revisions to get the translations to reflect the desired message, just as it takes multiple revisions to get the source materials right. In addition, a single project shouldn’t be split among too many translators as style consistency is harder to achieve in marketing texts than in technical documentation.
  • Determine target audience. Before you send your text to the translator, determine if the project is global or regional in scope. This, along with your budget, will determine your target languages.
  • Define the desired style and tone. Are your communications formal or informal? Is there a different audience for different types of communications? Should the translated content mirror the English style or be more “localized”?
  • Share the knowledge. In order to produce copy that you like, a translation provider needs to understand the objective of the text, the target audience and the preferred style as well. Having a local style guide will be important to getting the message right.
  • Review an early sample. Make sure the translation provider is on the right track by reviewing a sample of the translation for style and tone early in the process. A review team should be set up in advance — ideally one reviewer for each language, engaged from the beginning of the project. Reworking style is very time-consuming so it is better to correct it right away.
  • Expect a lot of feedback. Language is subjective and reactions can be strong when it comes to marketing or stylistic texts. Allow enough time when scheduling for a final refinement step where the feedback from reviewers is analyzed, harmonized (if more than one reviewer is participating) and implemented.
  • Use universal symbols. Many countries (especially in Europe) have standard and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved symbols to convey a message without having to translate it.  For example, the recycle, shelf life, and ironing symbols can be used throughout the European Union (EU), thereby saving a lot of space and also complying with local regulations.
  • Slogans are tricky. Slogans and taglines are extremely challenging and time consuming to localize and may need to change slightly or significantly in the target language. It’s hard to get a slogan to work across all markets, which is why a global slogan is rare. McDonald’s didn’t create their first global slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” until 2003, and it was kept in English for most countries.
  • Be aware of space limitations. Realize that most languages take up more space than English (assuming English is the source language). So packaging and its respective instruction sheets with limited space may need to be revised once localization is completed.

Translating and interpreting

Interpreters are often referred to as « translators » and people are not always aware of the difference between the two professions. An interpreter works with spoken words in a particular context, conveying a message from one language to another, translation refers to the activity of transferring a written text from one language to another. Interpretation is spoken, translation is written. Interpretation therefore makes use of particular linguistic resources: the original speaker’s ideas are transmitted as spoken words, with a particular rhythm and intonation, making use of rhetorical devices and gestures.

  • Interpretation is carried out in real time (simultaneously) or very close to it (consecutively). The interpreter has no time to refer to the written resources available to translators. This makes preparation before each assignment all the more essential for an interpreter.
  • Another constraint is the extreme speed at which the interpreter has to receive, understand, manage, and reconstruct information.
  • In interpretation communication is immediate, involving an interaction between speakers, listeners, and interpreters. In translation there is always a gap between the writing of a text by an author and its reception by the readers.
  • Apart from this, translators often spend a long time working on one text, while interpreters, often working in a team, are faced with people speaking and communicating right now.

Conference interpreting Interpreters have always been involved in the development of international trade and cultural exchange. But it was only towards the end of the 19th century, with the appearance of the first international organisations and of regular conferences, that some people were able to make a living as interpreters. With the emergence of simultaneous interpretation in the middle of the 20th century the profession developed considerably and was shaped accordingly. Conference interpretation is conveying a message spoken in one language into another. It is practised at international summits, professional seminars, and bilateral or multilateral meetings of heads of State and Government. Conference interpreters also work at meetings between chief executives, social and union representatives, at congresses and meetings.