Traps for the Unwary About Marketing Translation

Last Updated On: May 21, 2020

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English - a Corporate Language

Marketing translation is a necessary part of a business’s expansion outside its own borders. With online sales growing every year, marketing translation becomes even more of a necessity. The contradiction is that many businesses are compromising their image and brand by not taking marketing translation seriously enough or treating it like any other translation task.

Marketing translation skills are different from other kinds of translation

Marketing translation is not as literal as other translation, especially technical translation. In some ways it is more like literary translation, but even then there are significant differences. Businesses that intend to do a lot of marketing translation should use professional translation agencies that specialise in this type of translation.
The essential difference between marketing translation and other kinds of translation is that the former has to translate idiomatic expressions, slogans, brand messages and must do so taking into account potentially different cultural and social meanings. Marketing translators tend to have a very good in depth knowledge of both the two cultures that belong to the business itself and the target market.
To give an example, take a typical technical translation task: the translation of a manual explaining how to use a medical device. There is no room for cultural differences here. The device will be used in the same way in the country in which the device was developed and built as well as the country or countries where it is being sold.

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Good marketing translation is culturally sensitive

Compare that with an advertising message for a new drink. The message in the country of origin may be totally unacceptable in the target country where the drink is being marketed. The message may offend the local community, disturb it, annoy it, or perhaps it may be just misunderstood. Marketing messages and slogans can be very culture specific and these messages don’t always translate very well at all.
That doesn’t mean that a translation can’t be made when there are substantial cultural differences involved. Marketing is all about conveying the message that a product (or service) is worth buying. All it means is that the translator is given the job of converting the message into something that will make the new market sit up and take interest. This is known as transcreation and is a distinctive feature of marketing translation.

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