Marketing translation is not only about translating the text into the target language, it’s also about conveying the right marketing message in the required language. A marketing translator needs to know how to promote the products of the company he is working for. There are also certain cultural issues that should be taken into account. The writing style will also be completely different to other branches of translation. Therefore, a talented marketing translator will know how to adapt his language and style in order to attract the customers. Having extensive knowledge about the target culture is also a must. In this article, we will propose a few techniques that can help those that are working or consider a career in marketing translation.
1. Adapt to the cultural context
It is advisable for the translator to analyse thoroughly the original document. In this sense, he can ask the opinion of other people that have marketing and translation knowledge. They will be able to tell you if you are on the right path regarding your translation. Pictures and idiomatic expressions are elements that must be taken into account as well. Keep in mind the fact that some of these do not fit certain cultures and they might be considered inappropriate in some cases. Sometimes, you need to consult with your employer and decide if you need to replace the original elements with new ones, more cultural appropriate. When it comes to idiomatic expressions, you need to understand them properly before translating them because mot-a-mot translations may cause embarrassing moments.
2. Take your time
Marketing translation takes more time due to its nuances and ambiguities. This means that you must be prepared to invest time and effort if you want to deliver a professional translation to your employer. You must put even more effort into your work if you are at the very beginning of your career in translation. In order promote the desired message; you will have to pay attention to headlines and taglines as they are really important elements in marketing. These are the first things people usually notice, so the success of a product sometimes depends on this first impression.
Slogans are a tricky part of marketing translation. They often have to change in the target language because it’s hard to get a slogan that works across all markets. This is why a global slogan is a rare thing. According to the book “Creative Advertising” by Charles Whittier: “A slogan should be a statement of such merit about a product or service that is worthy of continuous repetitive advertising; is worthwhile for the public to remember; and is phrased in such a way that the public is likely to remember it.” Therefore, translators must really pay attention to this detail.
4.Be aware of space limitations
You must take into account that most languages take up more space than English (assuming English is the source language). So packaging and the respective instruction sheets with limited space may need to be revised once localization is completed. It is a good idea to spend extra time on this or to consider localization during the initial design and leave adequate room for the target languages.
5. Use universal symbols
Many countries, particularly from Europe, have standard and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved symbols to send a message without having to translate it. For example, the well-known recycle, shelf life, and ironing symbols can be used throughout the countries from European Union, therefore saving a lot of space and also complying with local regulations.
6. Style and tone
The translator must establish from the very beginning what type of audience he is dealing with. This way, he will be able to adapt its tone. Most of the time, advertising requires an informal tone that common people will understand. It has to be adapted to all ages as well. The tone can be formal when we are talking about companies that want to inspire confidence such as legal enterprises or certain car brands. In this case, the language must be very serious and formal, but at the same time still accessible to the masses. This is, of course, hard work for the translator, but it must be done.
7.Global or Regional Scope?
The translator must also know from the beginning if the project he is working at is global or regional in scope. This way, it will be easy to determine your target languages. If your project is global, then you may consider “global” Spanish for example. If it’s only for Latin American audiences, the translator will obviously choose specific regional Spanish translations such as Peruvian Spanish for instance. If you choose to use the global language due to budget issues, you risk having a bad response. The language might be considered too neutral by the audience, which could have an impact on the success of advertising.
Marketing translation can be a long process, so you must keep communication open with your employer. As we are talking about subjectivity of the text, the employer might want different things than you. Sometimes you will have to change the text several times in order to receive a positive feedback. This is normal in the case of marketing translation and it should not be taken as criticism, but more as a normal collaboration between the two parts: the translator and the employer.
In conclusion, translation is without question, an important element in the marketing industry. The translator must use all the available techniques in order to create a translation that is appropriate for the cultural context and that promotes the product as good as the original text.