Translation and marketing: the latest duo

Does your company market its products or services in other countries? Is it planning to do so? Then there are two aspects that you’ve most certainly considered already: the marketing techniques you’re going to use and your company’s Internet presence in the new market.

Yet there’s also another aspect that often doesn’t get its due consideration, even though it links the preceding two: translation. These days, globalisation and marketing can’t exist without translation, because in the end, who’s going to want a product or service they can’t understand? Who would want to establish a relationship with a company that has no empathy for a person’s language, culture and customs?

When it comes to marketing, one of the first steps is to define the target market. When we cross borders, describing the target market must not only include demographic and socio-economic data, it must also include questions such as the following: What different customs does this new target group have? What specific needs does it have? What form of communication suits that culture the best? Therefore, communication and cultural adaptation are key elements in the marketing strategy.

So as we can see, it’s not merely a matter of translating an ad or the website of a firm. It’s a question of translating content based on each culture so that we can get close to the consumer and connect with them (inbound marketing).

Localisation and transcreation: translation in marketing

There are two basic tools related to translation for marketing:

  • adapting to the culture of the target group (localisation)
  • creating new advertising ideas to transmit the same message and create the same feeling in the new target market (transcreation)

Knowing these two concepts is important so that we ensure a thoughtful, careful and familiar-feeling translation of the content for the foreign target audience.

Both concepts are related not only to translation but also to advertising.

A good example of adapted and familiar-feeling advertising for a target audience was the “T’estiu molt” campaign by Barcelona’s City Hall (2017). The slogan plays on the closeness between the sound of the sentence “T’estimo molt” (I love you a lot) and the word “estiu” (summer), with the campaign designed to promote summer activities for children and young people.

Translating content for the World Wide Web

1. When you create a website, you clearly want to create content for consumers, yet also for the Internet. As a company, you want to position your website using SEO techniques through a good selection of keywords. And this always has to be done while adapting to the company’s needs.

An example of this would be the automotive company Seat (pronounced ‘sā-ȯt’ in Spanish), which requires considerable SEO and SEM work in Anglo-Saxon countries because of the similarity between the company’s name and the word “seat”.

2. You can also write by focusing on the user’s experience (UX-writing) in order to adequately guide users on your website. For example, colour connotations should be kept in mind for each culture: in the West, we are more attracted to a green purchase button than a black one.

3. Write texts while keeping in mind the desires and emotions of the end consumer (copywriting) and not those of the consumer of the home country. An example is the famous case of Nissan’s “Moco” cars: the name (meaning “snot” in Spanish) wasn’t the exactly ideal for a native Spanish speaker.

Tips for translating from a marketing point of view

In summary, we’d like to share a few recommendations for when you have to translate your website or advertising for markets abroad:

  • Always think about the needs, emotions and customs of the target market.
  • Remember that your intention is familiar-feeling communication and empathy with the target consumer.
  • Adapt all the necessary content, including images (not just the words!).

Therefore, make sure that your translation provider is a language professional who also specialises in marketing. A good translator who specialises in the field knows that they have to research and adapt to ensure that your products and services have an impact beyond your borders.