How to keep marketing translations strictly marketing

A balancing act between creativity and reproducibility

Global companies expect the translation of their marketing messages to be not only correct, but also culturally adapted and well formulated. This goes beyond pure technical translation and requires special cultural sensitivity, linguistic skill and, last but not least, creativity.

In order to translate a marketing message into another language, a translator needs to possess cultural knowledge of the target market and a feeling for advertising language. If it is simply translated directly, there is a risk that subtle differences in the language are ignored and the message does not reach the audience at an emotional-cultural level. Indeed, it is at an emotional level that brand trust is achieved, ensuring long-term credibility.

As a rule of thumb, translating – or better yet, adapting – marketing content requires translators, linguists and copywriters who specialize in the particular field, as well as an expanded process. This way of conveying advertising language in another language is also called transcreation, a blend of the words “translation” and “creation.” For this, everyone involved brings their cultural background knowledge and linguistic creativity into play to create the target language text.

Alas, the potential for a creative translation is restricted by the translation memory (TM) tool, which has a segment-based structure. Working exclusively within the narrow confines of segments in a TM tool inevitably leads to translations structured similarly to the source text. The result may sound artificial at times and may not be optimally adapted to the target culture.

On the other hand, with longer marketing texts that contain a lot of product information (e.g. brochures or catalogs), it makes sense to store the target language content in the TM. This allows content to be used consistently across media or reused for similar texts at a later point in time.

This is the only way to ensure that the content and terminology of advertising messages remains consistent over a longer period of time, not to mention the fact that reusing text also saves time and money.

For such cases, we developed a multi-level process that can be adapted to suit the character of the source text as well as the client’s budget and schedule:

1. Marketing translation and revision
2. Transcreation (partial or complete)
3. Proofreading in context (optional)

The process

First, the marketing translation is carried out in the TM tool. The marketing translator conveys the marketing style of the original in the target language version. The result is a marketing translation that is stored in its entirety in the TM as well as the assurance that it will be reused consistently in the future.

Next, a transcreationist with extensive knowledge of the target market performs the transcreation according to the layout of the document in the target language. The scope and degree of free rein are determined together with the client after the initial analysis of the source texts. Various levels are possible: from complete adherence to the original segment structure all the way to an unrestricted structure with content adaptation of the target text including changing the sentence structure and sequence, shortening or adding text, content adjustments, optimization of examples and references, comments on visual material, et cetera.

Then, optionally, proofreading in context is carried out, allowing marketing translations that do not include transcreation to be reviewed and optimized in line with the context of the document’s layout (images, text-block position). In addition, proofreading in context allows an additional review of the text flow within the layout of the entire document after an extensive transcreation.

In short

When it comes to marketing content, the text must be tailored to the target market. In most cases, this cannot be achieved with the standard translation process (translation and revision). In order to fully satisfy the requirements of transcreation and to also save marketing content in the TM to the greatest extent possible, we developed a custom dynamic process. Our process makes marketing translations in the TM tool as well as subsequent transcreation – with a level of free rein that can be flexibly defined – feasible, allowing the results to be saved in the translation memory to the greatest extent possible. The process is rounded out by proofreading in context, in which the target text is reviewed within the context of its layout.