Globalization: translating your marketing to best communicate your brand

By Acclaro
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Globalization translating your marketing to best communicate your brand

Trying to take a marketing campaign global or expand into a new market? You may realize that of all your business materials, marketing and sales copy are particularly difficult to translate. The nature of advertising—using colors, images, slogans, and clever turns of phrase—can cause a campaign that is successful in one area to fall flat in another. Here are 4 strategies to most effectively translate your marketing content.

Transcreation: translate beyond language

One key to success when globalizing your marketing and sales copy is to use a process called “transcreation.” In this process, skilled translators alter the language to preserve the intent and “feeling” of the original copy (its intent, style, tone, and context). They may suggest words, images, and metaphors to convey the original message most effectively in the target languages, even if the exact phrasing or imagery is different from the original campaign.

For example, a pet name like “sweet pea” may not translate with the same affectionate intention when developing a Paris-focused version of an ad campaign, but the French expression “mon petit chou” captures essentially the same idea (“my little sweet pastry”).

Transcreation is especially useful with names and slogans. Brand and product names, even those that are “made up” or meaningless words in their original language, can mean something different or sound like other meaningful words when translated. Since slogans often incorporate plays on words, rhyming sounds, and other language-specific qualities, it’s challenging to get a slogan to work effectively across all markets. This is why a global slogan is rare. Names, slogans, and or taglines may need to change slightly or significantly in a target language to properly convey your intended message.

Localization: tailor your marketing to your audience

Your marketing copy needs to reflect the habits, tastes, and lifestyle of its target audience. If you choose only a “global” version of a language when translating your branding or marketing campaign, this may save you money, but it may result in content that is too neutral to be effective. Content that appeals to “everyone” runs the risk of resonating with no one.

Failing to consider localization of your language can mean that due to regional differences and colloquialisms your marketing message doesn’t sound the way you intended. Even if your new market doesn’t require translation into a new language for the campaign, localization can prevent amusing, confusing consequences.

Consider the risks and benefits of localizing vs. not localizing. Working with a translation service from the very beginning, while you’re developing your marketing campaigns, can help you craft marketing materials that can be easily and cost-effectively localized to more specific regions.

Visualization: make sure you look your best

Many languages take up more space than English, so if English is your source language on printed or visual materials, translations may impact your layout and design. Revisions may be necessary to the overall design of the materials to preserve the aesthetic appeal while ensuring readability.


When designing an entirely new campaign, think ahead, even if your initial campaign is only for your home market. Considering localization and translation from the very beginning, during the initial design phase and layout, can allow you to leave adequate room for any future target languages, reducing the necessity and cost of later redesigns.

Be careful when using non-standard symbols, custom designs, or logos in your layout, which may take on a different meaning in another culture or may be too confusing to effectively convey your meaning. Many countries, especially in Europe, utilize helpful standard and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved symbols to convey a message without having to translate it. Using these can help your marketing materials look good while resonating well across cultures.

Evaluation: use care from source to finish

Before you begin translation of your marketing content, undertake a professional, thorough review of all source material, including logos, slogans, images, and copy. This review should involve translation and interpretation professionals, marketing professionals, focus groups, cultural consultants, and other strategic decision-makers. The goal is to identify images, phrases, or concepts that might not translate effectively, such as culturally specific pictures, metaphors, and idiomatic expressions.

This process helps ensure your materials, when translated, are not inadvertently confusing, nonsensical, or conveying an otherwise unintended meaning. Ideally, the writer of your source materials should be trained in writing global-friendly content, which enables easier translation without significant changes to the original ideas.

What’s allowed and prohibited in advertising differs greatly by country and region. It’s essential that your entire team understand what the local restrictions are on advertising images, text, and video. In addition to differing rules about violence, language, or nudity, there may also be regulations forbidding certain kinds of direct marketing, comparisons to other brands, or “puffery” (using exaggerated claims or praise to promote a product).

Acclaro translates global business across cultures and beyond borders. From localizing products to transcreating global ad campaigns, we use a personal touch to help you open new markets and gain a competitive edge in over 100 languages worldwide. More than translation, we enable you to communicate with your brand’s voice and style. With the right team, brand awareness, and cultural insights, your marketing campaign can create the right buzz and build your business in your target language market. Learn more about launching successful marketing campaigns across cultures in our eBook.

When you’re ready to put your global strategy into action, contact us to learn how we can help you succeed across cultures.

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