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4 tips for effective marketing translations

By Nicola Thayil

Are you thinking of expanding internationally or entering a new market? One of the first things you are likely to do is to have your marketing materials translated. So how do you get your message and call to action across effectively in a different language.

1. Choose a translator specialised in marketing 

Take the time to find a translator who is experienced in marketing and who understands your business. Think about it. You wouldn’t want a financial translator translating your highly creative marketing copy, you can give them a call to translate your annual report but not your website or brochure. Translating marketing documents requires creativity, cultural competency and an ability to convey ideas whilst at the same time retaining meaning and eliciting a desired emotional response.

2. Make sure your company name and tagline are appropriate 

Your company name, slogan, logo or tagline all feature prominently on your website and marketing materials. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the more well-known marketing translation fails such as ‘Come alive with Pepsi’ which was rendered in Chinese as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead’. Beware: a brand name or slogan doesn’t always translate well into other languages and cultures. Getting it right the first time around avoids costly corrective action and damaging your reputation.

3. Provide style guides and glossaries for your marketing materials 

Recurring words or phrases are important to your company’s identity and were originally created to make your marketing content memorable and compelling. It’s therefore important to communicate these to help your translator keep these same qualities and style for materials in another language. Your goal should be to maintain brand coherence as much as possible within any cultural limitations.

4. Educate translators about your brand 

The more informed translators are about your brand, the more accurate and effective their work will be. The translator’s role as a linguist is to take on board your brand voice and personality. They do this in order to convey these to your target audience in such a way that the message really speaks to them personally. It’s important for you to be able to present your company’s unique value to your desired target audience through culturally relevant communication.

In summary, when you are looking to translate your marketing materials for a new market, it’s important to choose a specialised translator, check the cultural relevance of your brand name and tagline, provide or develop a style guide and educate translators about your brand. Putting these recommendations in place will go a long way to ensuring that your translated marketing content retains its original compelling message and stand-out qualities.

Nicola Thayil is a professional French to English translator and conference interpreter based in Melbourne, Australia. She has been practising since 2013 after completing a Masters of Interpreting and Translation Studies at Monash University. Nicola specialises in legal, marketing and business texts, drawing on over five years' experience in marketing, as well as a background in international business. She also authors a translation blog here. This article is republished with permission.