Every translation field has its unique difficulties and pitfalls. Marketing translation, however, is particularly challenging; unlike technical, legal or medical translation, it involves not only translating the source text from one language to another, but also adapting the content to ensure that it resonates with the target market. The translator must therefore find a way to adjust the marketing copy without straying from the original message to effectively convey the intent, style and tone. The difficulty lies in adapting the text without changing the message, and this balancing act is infinitely more difficult than one would imagine.
The key to a good marketing translation
First and foremost, marketing translators must have excellent knowledge of both languages and cultures. A translation will not be successful if the translator doesn’t fully understand the intention of the text, or if they fail to grasp subtleties such as humour, sarcasm or irony. In addition, they must be entirely familiar with the company and brand image, and have a deep understanding of how they may be perceived in another language and culture.
Taking advantage of one’s writing and adaptation skills
Furthermore, marketing translators need to be good writers. Literal or word-for-word translation will often distort the copy beyond recognition. To successfully translate and adapt the text, the translator needs to be able to alter slang, cultural references, expressions and idioms to make them relevant and accessible to the intended population. Often this involves changing imagery, similes or metaphors, or modifying slogans or catch-phrases. In some cases, the text must ultimately be rewritten in translation, a process otherwise known as transcreation. Creativity, flexibility and exceptional writing skills are therefore essential.
In many cases, the importance of marketing translation and adaptation is sorely underestimated. Poorly translated marketing material not only fails to get the message across, it also reflects negatively on the brand, and consequently, on the business as a whole. There are countless examples of awkwardly translated and unintentionally funny ads on the internet; these marketing blunders often occur when the translation is too literal, or if the translator missed certain linguistic nuances. In cross-cultural campaigns, adaptation is truly essential to ensure that your message is not lost in translation.
For more information on the marketing translation and adaptation services offered at Textualis, don’t hesitate to get in touch.