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Seven steps to perfect advertising translation

Published on April 30th, 2020

Advertising translation connects brands with multilingual audiences. There are no second languages in marketing; brands need to reach every target audience, in their own native language, and establish an emotional response that inspires purchase decisions – either now or in the foreseeable future.

Successful advertising campaigns not only sell products, but also etch brand stories into the minds of consumers. Global brands like Nike and Coca-Cola excel at this because they know what they want their brand to mean to people in each target market and the kind of message that builds this image in the minds of each audience.

Advertising translation in seven steps

Advertising translation is a by-product of international marketing, which means you are dealing with a complex group of target audiences spread out across vast locations, cultures and language barriers – all of which need to be addressed in your translation process.

To achieve this, you need to incorporate the following steps into your workflow:

  1. Goal definition: Define your goal for each target audience and individual translation project.
  2. Audience research: Conduct thorough research of each target audience to understand what makes them unique and the challenges of translating content for them.
  3. Adaptation: While it might be tempting to translate one message for multiple audiences, there is every chance your original message will need to be adapted to match the unique needs and challenges of certain audiences (precisely why thorough research is so important).
  4. Translation: With your goals and messages defined, the translation process begins.
  5. Review: Once your content is translated, the review and editing process ensures everything is in order.
  6. Delivery: This is where you ensure all of your content is delivered on the right platforms and optimised accordingly (e.g. print, online, video, etc.).
  7. Analytics: Once your campaign is launched, you need to measure performance and optimise to achieve the best results.

The seven-step process above is fairly typical for any kind of translation project, but the audience research and adaptation stages are particularly important. As with any marketing campaign, you need to ensure your messages are as relevant and compelling as possible to every defined audience.

In many cases, you will find your original message does not hold its meaning prior to translation. In others, you will encounter foreign-speaking audiences that simply have different interests and needs to the equivalent audience in another language, so simply translating the same message for them will not deliver the desired result.

This is why it is very important to adapt your messages to the interests of local audiences and understand that translation alone doesn’t always get the job done. You may need to localise your messages or even change them more radically through transcreation to overcome the unique nuances of both source and target languages.

The importance of speaking their language

The biggest mistake brands make with advertising translation is assuming the same message is going to elicit the same response in each market. For some brands, this can work relatively effectively when the overall brand or product image is similar in each market.

For example, luxury cars are aimed at high earners in every market so the images and emotions such brands play on are very similar. Which is why we often see the same video ad being used in multiple markets for luxury brands, as there is a strong consistency in the emotional triggers being used.

Most brands have to work harder, though, and this is what we see from the likes of Coca-Cola, L’Oréal, Nike and other big brands that heavily adapt their messages for each target market. Generally speaking, the broader your collective target markets are, the more you will need to do this.

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Posted on: April 30th, 2020