Translating marketing content is as essential as providing translated product manuals or translating your website, but the savvy marketer knows that it must be approached with a lot more sensitivity, patience and an eye for detail.
A recent post by the Content Marketing Institute outlines some of the challenges faced by marketers when trying to create content and drive traffic through social media on a global scale, highlighting that one of the most common mistakes is the belief that translation is simply a “commodity” and that “all translators are created equal”, which is not the case. If you look at your global marketing strategy as the embodiment of your company’s global message… I suppose we can’t really afford to take it lightly.
It’s understandable that in an the ever changing marketing industry, brushing up on your localization knowledge is a low priority for all you humble marketers out there.
So, here are a three solutions that marketers can take on board to ensure they are well equipped for their voyage overseas with their marketing localization strategy:
"We’re thinking of launching in a new market, so we have to translate our brand name and logo, we also have a lot of brand specific content. How can we make sure our message isn’t distorted when translated?"
Consider transcreation - Transcreation or creative translation takes into account not only translation, but looks at a project with a particular audience in mind and edits things like images and layout, as well as wording; essentially re-creating the content for the target audience. Transcreation involves highly skilled, creative translators and can be time consuming and expensive, so if you plan on producing content in several languages, it may be sensible to take it one step at a time, launching language by language and perfecting each one as you go along. The transcreation process involves working to understand your brand, researching the target market with native speakers and using the information to modify your brand identity according to the target culture. Transcreation goes that little bit deeper than localization and is suitable for companies who want to be sure that they’re particular brand image is well received in another culture, particularly in those that are far different from their own.
We can take Coca Cola’s launch into China as a well known example of how they molded their brand name in order to fit the market. They soon realized that writing their brand name in Chinese characters had nonsensical meanings when pronounced, so they chose a different name, Kekoukele, which when pronounced means “tasty fun”. This is only one example of how transcreation works in line with a global localization strategy.
"Timely turnaround is a must, but how do we achieve this while still retaining quality?"
As marketing content can be time sensitive, many marketers will fall into the trap of rushing their translation efforts in a bid to push out global content as fast as possible, neglecting quality.
Invest in translation technology - The fast paced localization industry has paved the way for a multitude of technologies to aid language service providers in providing a more efficient translation process. For companies who regularly translate a lot of content or who want to localize their robust social media and content marketing strategies, investing in this technology along with a high quality language service provider is definitely worth the investment, saving time and money in the long run. Fast moving companies like Spotify and HubSpot have realised the advantages of investing in translation technology to aid their global expansion. Read about the benefits of translation management software in one of my previous posts here.
"Localization isn’t my job, I don’t have time to deal with too many questions or potential issues involved with working with several translation companies."
With a hundred other things on your mind, translating your content is just another thing to add to your already over flowing plate. It’s understandable that it can be perceived as more of a hindrance than a help, especially when you use different translation agencies.
Keep localization centralized - You may have your reasons for having several translation vendors, but there's no doubt that cutting down on the number of translation vendors you use will make a huge difference to the time spent on managing your localization strategy. Kind of like cleaning out your wardrobe, it's difficult at the start but once you're finished, you can see everything else much more clearly.
One example of how several translation vendors can make things less than ideal, is with your translation memory (TM). When one vendor translates into French for example, these translations are stored in your translation memory to be used in your next project. Equally, if you send the next project to a different vendor, they will also store the translations in their TM. Now both vendors will have a completely separate set of terms for the same language, causing a significant lack of consistency with translations. This will have a direct impact on the amount of time and money spent reviewing work, implementing changes and answering queries. You may not even realise that your decentralized localization process is the root of the problem, whilst wasted time and money simply slip through the cracks.
Val Swisher from Content Rules does a great job of explaining the issues with decentralized TMs in her article, here.
"Translation reviews take a lot of time. How can we avoid a lengthy review process?"
Make sure your content is translation ready- If you don’t think investing in the transcreation side of things is an option, you can avoid translation pitfalls by making sure that your content is ready to go global from the very beginning, spotting potential issues before sending for translation. When writing your content, have an international audience in mind by keeping sentences shorter and to the point, making translation easier and avoiding lengthy reviews stages. Keeping a simple sentence structure also makes it easier for a translator to preserve the intended meaning, for example avoiding jargon, clichés and highly idiomatic language. If your content is written with a mindset for internationalization, you will be amazed at how this will affect your writing, and cause you to consciously omit or tweak any possible stumbling blocks that will result in back and forth with reviewers and translators.
For more tips on streamlining your review process, have a look at one of my previous artcles here.
Long story short...
Localization is an investment, and trying to reduce costs by cutting corners will ultimately result in poor quality and an inconsistent brand image. Your translation company is the one who helps bring your product to the global marketplace, so localization deserves its rightful place as an inherent part of your company.
With efficient translation management, costs will reduce automatically without neglecting quality. Each point mentioned above will be a vital step in establishing a strategic localization process and when combined, your company will be on its way to becoming a localized marketing machine!
If you are involved in global marketing and would like to learn more about other challenges in marketing localization and how to solve them, maybe you can visit the Brand2Global conference this month in London . Also, feel free to share your comments with us below.