The translation of marketing materials demands going beyond simple translation to transcreation. What is transcreation? As we explained in an earlier post, transcreation involves creating something that will have the same impact in another culture. Marketing messages are carefully crafted to appeal to the target audience at an emotional level, deploying familiar words and symbols to excite, intrigue, or comfort the potential customer according to the personality of the brand. The problem is that some words and symbols that work well in one culture may not have the desired effect—and may even have a negative effect—in another culture.

english and spanish versions of puzzle book

Finding the proper agency for marketing translation

When it’s time to translate marketing materials, you want an agency that has the experience to understand the special needs of marketing translation—one which has in their network of professional translators ones who specialize in the translation of marketing and advertising materials. Such translators are more creative writers, used to the need to adapt marketing materials to their culture. And it’s not only the text that is involved; you may also need suggestions about changing colors and graphics that might be less meaningful, and even potentially off-putting in other cultures.

Balancing global and local

So transcreation is essential, but, if you are trying to sell a global brand, you don’t want to sacrifice your basic branding by allowing a degree of marketing localization that totally obliterates your basic branding elements and company message. Balancing local vs. global on multilingual corporate websites is one of the major problems cited by corporate marketers. The same tension holds true for all marketing materials: How far do you let the process of localization and transcreation go?

The best way to ensure that there is continuity among messages is to try not to exercise a lot of editorial control over what the professional linguists do with your message. Instead, provide them with certain guidelines up front.

Brand usage guidelines: These usually include information on what exactly the elements of the branding are; what the brand “personality” is supposed to be; which terms should stay in the source language because they are part of the brand, what tone of voice should be used in brand marketing.

Glossaries: These are lists of specialized terms used in your industry, common terms that have a special meaning in the context of your products, and tag lines, along with definitions or explanations where necessary. Agreed-upon translations for any of these terms that have already been used in earlier projects should also be included. This can be updated during the project. Over time you can build a very useful multilingual glossary with translation variations required for different localities.

Target Audience Identity: Let your translation provider know, as specifically as possible, who the targets of the marketing materials will be so that they can take into account local differences in usage. Are you targeting Spanish speakers in a particular region, in a particular country, in specific urban areas?

Creative briefs: You may want to provide a creative brief for the specific marketing campaign to provide guidance on style, tone, and usage specific to that particular project.

Finally, the basic marketing message you send out for localization in the first place is very important. If you know that you are going to translate a marketing campaign, it’s best not to start with marketing content that was clearly developed and geared towards a particular target market’s sensibilities. Instead start with a universal message that you want to convey about your company or product and work from that into the various localized versions.

The key to multicultural content marketing is to combine global messages with local ideas. The more you plan your messages with a global audience in mind, the easier it will be to connect that content with local markets, whatever the local language and culture.

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