Launching a marketing campaign in a new language market requires a thoughtful approach. What colors, images or phrases will resonate with the local audience? Which could be offensive? Without a keen cultural eye, even the best-planned campaign can falter. Here are our top-10 tips for taking a corporate website, product packaging, social media or ad campaign across cultures.
1. Analyze the original content
An in-market expert should review your source text for images, phrases or concepts that might not resonate globally, such as some sports pictures, metaphors and idiomatic expressions. Having this feedback before translation begins can help you decide whether to change aspects of your original campaign to more global-friendly content, or target areas to localize so you can maintain consistency across various markets.
This extra preparation gives your translation provider the license to consult on the images and metaphors that will be most effective in the target language and culture. In an ideal scenario, the writer of the source text will also be trained in writing global-ready content.
2. Allow enough time and budget
Marketing translation takes time. Don’t expect the same timeline or costs as when translating technical or general business document translation. Marketing copy tends to be more nuanced and its meaning more open to cultural interpretation. Headlines, tag lines and creative copy will require extra attention and usually involve transcreation. You’ll also want to count on linguists who know your brand voice, since style consistency is especially important for global marketing content.
3. Determine target audience
Before you send your text to the linguist, determine if the project is global or regional. This, along with your budget, will determine your target languages. If your audience is global, then you may consider “global” Spanish. If you’re targeting only certain Latin American audiences, you may want to choose specific regional Spanish translations (i.e. Peruvian Spanish, Colombian Spanish, etc.).
To be effective, marketing content needs to reflect the habits, tastes and lifestyle of your target audience. If you choose a “global” version of a language like Spanish, it’s important to weigh out the pros and cons. Using “global” language may save you money, but it also may be too neutral to have the impact you’re looking for. You’ll want to consider the risks and benefits with each scenario.
4. Define the desired style and tone
Are your communications formal or informal? Is there a different audience for different types of communications? Should the translated content mirror the source content’s style or be more localized? Establish this ahead of time to maintain consistency.
5. Share the knowledge
To produce copy that consistently meets your expectations, your translation partner needs to understand the purpose of the text, the goal, the target audience and your brand’s voice and style. A thorough translation glossary and style guide are important to getting the message right.
6. Review an early sample
Set up a review team in advance — ideally including one reviewer for each language who will be involved from the start. Make sure your translation partner is on the right track by reviewing a sample of the translation piece early in the process. At this stage, you’ll want to check for style and tone. Reworking style is very time consuming, so it’s better to correct it right away.
7. Expect a lot of feedback
Language is subjective and reactions can be strong when it comes to marketing or stylistic texts. When scheduling, allow enough time for a final refinement step where the feedback is analyzed, synthesized (if you have more than one reviewer) and implemented.
8. Use universal symbols
Many countries (especially in Europe) have standard and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved symbols to convey key concepts. For example, recycling, shelf life, and ironing symbols can be used throughout the European Union (EU), which saves a lot of space and also complying with local regulations.
9. Know that slogans are tricky
Slogans and tag lines are extremely challenging and time consuming to localize and may need to change slightly or significantly in the target language. It’s hard to land on a slogan that works across all markets, which is why a global slogan is rare. McDonald’s didn’t create their first global slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” until 2003, and it was kept in English for most countries.
10. Be aware of space limitations
Realize that most spacing requirements can be very different across various languages. For instance, if English is the source language, most other languages will take up more space. So packaging and its respective instruction sheets with limited space may need to be revised once localization is complete. You’ll want to allow extra time for this, or even better, consider localization during the initial design and leave adequate room for the target languages.
Effective marketing translation starts with the right partner With the right team, brand awareness and cultural insights, your marketing campaign can create a buzz and build your business in your target language market. Check out our eBook to learn more about setting up your marketing content for cross-cultural success. Then, contact us for a consultation.