Marketing translation and its challenges

Marketing translations can be challenging even for an expert translator. Therefore, this area of expertise differs from other kinds of translation because it carries more risk and potential pitfalls.

Indeed, a poor marketing translation can produce a negative impression which translates into a brand’s poor image. On the other hand, a very good marketing translation has the power of strengthening a brand’s reputation by connecting with the target market.

marketing-translation-barrier

As with every type of translation, marketing translations require a deep understanding of the source text’s content.  Content is king especially in this industry. The translator should perceive the brand and its target market. They don’t have to be as faithful to the source text as they would with technical translations as the focus is on the meaning and the ability to be captivating.

Not only do the translators have to identify the aim of the source text in order to be able to translate it into the target language but they need to be able to convey the meaning, adapting the text for the target readers. For this purpose, they must have a deeper knowledge of the target audience so they can use suitable language respecting their culture and customs in order to avoid misunderstandings and potential offence.

A good level of general writing/grammar skills is a given but also a bit of creativity is also required.

The main elements to consider when trying to avoid cultural blunders are:

  • Humour: Each culture has its own sense of humour so translators must adapt expression in the best possible way in keeping with any "local knowledge" they have or are able to gain such as historic events they may effect how locals would look at situations. A joke in England is unlikely to carry the same message in the Middle East for example. They also need to ensure it reflects the original message in the source text once any local "humor" is translated.
  • Metaphors, puns, idioms all make all the text appealing and allow people to keep in mind the brand.
  • Images and Colours are not perceived the same in all languages and cultures. They can be related to different connotations in different cultures. Brand names must be taken into account through a correct and respectful adaptation process if required.

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Many marketing texts are managed through a bilingual approach to maximise the potential readers’ attention.

What happens with brands strongly identified with their belonging culture?

Some researchers think a multiple translations’ approach is not always the right solution. Furthermore, this method could have a negative impact. Indeed many studies show that brands strongly linked with their native culture do not benefit from translations. Culturally generic brands can take advantage of a multilingual approach.

There are some interesting demonstrations of where this has gone wrong in this article from INC.com (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/the-20-worst-brand-translations-of-all-time.html)

Therefore, adaptation must be the key word in marketing translation. Each advert must be analysed accurately to determine the best translation approach for it.

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