For several years now there has been a list called “Top Ten Misconceptions about Translation” circulating among translators on the Internet. The list would amuse anyone in the language business who has at one time or another run into the client who thinks that there should be no problem with getting a 30-page document translated by the next day. Or the prospect who thinks that Google Translate or their bilingual employees are perfectly adequate for translating their website.
But the #1 item on the list parodies what is probably the most widespread misconception about translation:
“That marketing copy that took a team of 20 people two months to put together can be translated overnight by one person and still retain the same impact as the original.”
Marketing translation is different
Marketers regularly prepare entire marketing campaigns meant for international use and then just hand the finished product off for translation believing that this is just a matter of exchanging words. After they’ve spent weeks or months coming up with just the right theme, wording, and look to strike just the right chord with their audience, isn’t the creative part finished? Well, if you want to be sure that your message will resonate with an audience that is coming from a different culture and environment than you do, you should realize that the creative part continues into the process of producing foreign-language materials.
Marketers may be very good at coming up with the perfect approach to their home audience: catchy tag lines, the proper messaging, great graphic design, and images that hit home. But the very fact that their materials work so well with a local audience means that they may fall flat in another cultural context. Marketing that works well draws on a deep understanding of the culture of the target audience—of idioms, favorite pastimes, a shared history. That same understanding should be brought to bear when adapting materials for another culture.
Transcreation is essential
When it comes to marketing materials, a good language partner should be able to advise on and carry out “transcreation,” adapting the message, images, colors and even overall design to cater to the foreign audience. A literal translation, even a very good one, may not serve the marketing purpose.
The amount of adaptation that is necessary will depend greatly on the type of material and product. It will generally be greater for ads for consumer products and much less extensive for brochures for industrial goods. But the need for adaptation should always be considered. This means that your language partners should follow the best practices for transcreation, including the selection of translators who are creative writers with experience with the needs of marketing.
Pre-translation assessment is advisable
Prior to putting a lot of money into adapting a marketing campaign, especially one aimed at consumers, it is worth the additional investment of getting a pre-translation cultural assessment of the main elements of your campaign—messaging, images, color schemes. A pre-translation assessment will alert you to elements of your marketing pieces that may be problematic in other cultures. It may cause you to rethink parts of the source materials to make them more internationally relevant before moving ahead with the adaptation.
Finally, if you would do audience testing of your campaign with a domestic audience, arranging testing of your adapted materials with foreign audiences is also a great last step to ensure effectiveness.
Don’t just entrust your marketing materials to any translator. Make sure you use a language partner that will help you properly adapt them for the foreign audience. The process will take longer and be more expensive, but it will ensure that the marketing investment you are making will get the best rate of return.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: And the #1 Misconception About Marketing Translation Is…
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