Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap
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Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap

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From brochures to ad campaigns to websites, marketing materials pose a unique challenge to companies promoting products and services in new language markets. How do you ensure that your translated ...

From brochures to ad campaigns to websites, marketing materials pose a unique challenge to companies promoting products and services in new language markets. How do you ensure that your translated campaign maintains the impact of the original? And, how do you name products, translate idioms and maintain consistency across language markets without having to launch new marketing campaigns (with new creative, photography and design costs) for each market?

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Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap Document Transcript

  • Marketing Translation: Bridging the LanguageGapThis article was originally published on the Acclaro newsletter.5 Steps and Principles for Translating Marketing CampaignsFrom brochures to ad campaigns to websites, marketing materials pose a uniquechallenge to companies promoting products and services in new language markets.How do you ensure that your translated campaign maintains the impact of theoriginal? And, how do you name products, translate idioms and maintain consistencyacross language markets without having to launch new marketing campaigns (withnew creative, photography and design costs) for each market?Enter marketing “transcreation” — the process of linguistic and cultural translationthat makes marketing make sense whatever the target language (or languages). Hereis a step-by-step guide to making sure your product sells just as well in Buenos Airesas it does in Beijing or Boston.5 Transcreation Steps to Success 1. Begin assessing your campaign and content. Evaluate the goals of the campaign and, if the campaign is already at play in a market, take a close look at the concepts, graphics and headlines to assess their cultural relevance and appropriateness in the target market. Selecting concepts, copy and graphic elements that work across cultures is key to the campaign’s success. 2. Hire a qualified localization team. Working with a team that has a rich understanding of the source and target languages — all their nuances not withstanding — is a critical second step. As your team works with the target language experts they’ll explore linguistic and cultural questions and begin the transcreation process. Example 1: Consider the following text from the website of a renowned New York jeweler describing ways to wear charms:Page 1: Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap Copyright © Acclaro 2012
  • WAYS TO WEAR CHARMS All Tied Up A jazzed up pony tail is sure to turn heads. (Visual of a young woman with a pony tail and a charm tied to her hair.) In The Loop A charm snapped onto your belt tells people you’re going places. (Visual of a woman’s waist with jeans and charms tied to her belt loops.) Translating expressions such as “tied up” or “in the loop” not only play on the jewelry being advertised but also work with the campaign’s photography, which creates a sizable challenge for the translation team. How do you create a translation of “in the loop” that conveys the meaning of being “in the know” and that refers to the charm in the loop of a pair of jeans? And, in addition, if your transcreation team is unable to work with the copy, the image of a young, active woman that accompanies the text would have to be swapped out, creating additional photography challenges and costs. 3. Create a transcreation brief. This document summarizes fundamental information about the company, product and campaign to ensure that all teams understand the nuances of the language and business needs. It specifies the target audience (age, lifestyle, behavior, etc.) and the thought process that has gone into producing the original text. It also includes explanations on how to approach certain elements, such as branded terms that stay in English or have particular translations, taglines, images etc. 4. Translation begins. A linguist translates the text to create a draft, working sentence by sentence to explore possible meanings of the source. This is an accurate translation, but it closely follows the original text and will probably sound like a translation. However, its purpose is to deliver the meaning from the original copy, not to impress the reader. 5. Translation completes. The text then goes to another linguist who only works on the target (translated) copy. Following the transcreation brief and some of the principles described below, the linguist edits the copy until it truly sounds as if it had been written for the target market, but within the parameters and objectives of the campaign. This may include suggestions for alternative images or concepts if the original campaign did not already pass through a global review.5 Transcreation Principles to Guide the Process 1. Transcreation takes time. Producing culturally relevant marketing campaigns in new languages can be time consuming for even the most talented translationPage 2: Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap Copyright © Acclaro 2012
  • and localization teams. Exploring and collecting ideas, writing numerous versions of the same sentence and performing due diligence to avoid embarrassing outcomes requires time. Global marketers would do well to consult with their transcreation team upfront to ensure adequate time is built into the schedule. Example 2: Take the following Acclaro headline and assume that we are adapting ‘We get it’ to a Spanish audience. Ideally two linguists would meet and explore translation options. They would first brainstorm on the meaning of ‘We get it’ and create a few synonym phrases, such as ‘We understand’, ‘That’s our business’ and ‘That’s what we do.’ Then they would write down the many possible translations into Spanish Spanish: Entendido (Got it, understood) Entendemos (We understand) Entendimos (We understood) Sí, lo entendemos (Yes, we understand) Nosotros sabemos (We know) Lo sabemos (We know it) Nos encargamos (We’ll take care of it) Nos encargamos nosotros (We’ll take care of it) Como no (Of course) Claro (Of course, it is clear) Por supuesto (Of course) Obvio (Of course) Lo tenemos (We have it) Es lo nuestro (It’s our stuff) The linguists would then work on another project for a few hours to clear their heads. Once they settle on the best options, they would think of each possibility with the campaign visuals and remaining text in mind. Finally, theyPage 3: Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap Copyright © Acclaro 2012
  • would pick the option that carries the most meaning and has the desired impact on the target audience. 2. Harmonize images and text. Exceptional visuals paired with powerful copy create a marketing impression that has the potential to motivate action. Translations need to reflect the tone and mood of the campaign images, which can be a tall order when humor and figures of speech are involved. Example 3: Consider translating the sentence ‘Can your application bridge the language gap?’ with the image below. 
 Not all languages have the verb ‘bridge.’ In fact, some languages have to use synonyms such as ‘unite’ or ‘connect.’ Other languages will use ‘bridge’ as a noun to ensure the photograph remains relevant and tie in the meaning in other ways. If a linguist didn’t see the visual that goes with the sentence, she might be tempted to change or eliminate the ‘bridge’ altogether because her language doesn’t have a ‘bridge’ verb. For example, you could translate this sentence as ‘Can your application eliminate the language gap?’. Or, you could present barriers instead of gaps. For example: ‘Can your application bring down the language barrier?’, in which case a new visual would be required. 3. Think like a customer. When working on this type of material, a linguist needs to think like a customer. All marketing rules that applied when the copy was written apply to the translation. The final copy has to appeal to customers in the region of the target language. 4. Select the best option possible. In some cases, not all meanings contained in a sentence can be carried over in the target language. Sometimes, wordplay does not work in a different language, and a translator has to choose whether to stick to the meaning at the expense of style or lose some of the meaning to develop the concept that best adapts to the structure and use of the target language.Page 4: Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap Copyright © Acclaro 2012
  • Example 4: Taking the example of our New York Jeweler again and the sentence: In The Loop A charm snapped onto your belt tells people you’re going places. (Visual of a woman’s waist with jeans and charms tied to her belt loops.) 
 In Italian, a linguist could maintain the word ‘loop’ and try to build a double meaning. He could use ‘Per la gioia dei passanti’ as a translation of ‘In the loop’, which literally means ‘Passers-by will be pleased’. Or he could say ‘Con stupore dei passanti’ (‘Passers-by will be amazed’). Here, ‘passante’ also means belt loop. An Italian linguist might decide to use the meaning of ‘In the loop’ and discard the double meaning of the belt loop by using ‘Se sai il fatto tuo…’, which means that someone is tough and self confident. In any case, a decision has to be made about which meaning to carry over. It is very rare that two languages have the same double meanings. 5. Helping translators succeed. Instinct may tell you that using good marketing translators is the key success factor. While this is important, even the best translator will not succeed without the right information, a collaborative team and adequate time to explore options and fully complete the task. And, similar to developing your English (or source) copy, linguists will employ an iterative process and your collaboration with them will aid this process. The more information a translator receives up front, the less rewrites you’ll need later.When selling a product in new language markets, businesses should notunderestimate the importance of people’s sensitivity to their language and culture. Inreality, each of us are refined linguists when it comes to quickly deciding if we likewhat we hear, and whether we are persuaded by the transcreated marketing messageto take action. Having a global creative process that includes translation from conceptdevelopment through local execution is the most effective way to create localizedcampaigns.About Acclaro: Acclaro is an international translation and localization company thathelps the world’s leading brands succeed across cultures. We translate websites,marketing campaigns, documents and software to give clients an authentic voice inkey language markets. North America: 1-866-468-5106 Worldwide: +1-914-468-0222 www.acclaro.com sales@acclaro.comPage 5: Marketing Translation: Bridging the Language Gap Copyright © Acclaro 2012