Translation and advertising: 7 tips to rock your global ad campaigns

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Translation in advertising is crucial for anybody wishing to operate internationally. Successful adverts must engage and appeal to their market, and addressing this audience with the appropriate vocabulary is key to an effective advertising campaign. Adverts often rely on subtle nuances in the text, so literal translation is not enough. Instead, ads must be sensitively translated into a foreign language.

Follow this quick seven-part guide to ensure that your advertising translation services don’t fall prey to the most common industry fails and that any international advertising campaign requiring a translation is hitting the right spot with its intended audience.

1. Know everything about your audience

Language does not just differ across borders. Within any country, there will be stark differences in vocabulary and speech between generations. This makes it imperative to know exactly who you are producing the translation for. If the intended audience is from a younger demographic then consider using a less formal style of advert text. If attempting to capture older audiences, it might be effective to use a more formal variety of language. However, the exact tone will depend on what is commonly used in each target market. It is important to specifically target an audience with an advert, so it could be necessary to have a selection of adverts tailored for different consumers.

2. Recognize the importance of transcreation

The most common mistake in advertising translation is a literal translation that misses the entire point of the advert. Marketing literature needs transcreation — the adaptation of wording and tone to suitably appeal to the target market. It is imperative that any foreign translation destined for an advertising campaign is tackled by someone who knows the local market and can make the advert sound just as good in the output language.

Pro tip: Find translators specializing in advertising on Smartcat

3. Avoid machine translation

Services such as Google Translate promise to deliver easy and accurate results. And while they may indeed be easy and quick to use, what they possess in efficiency, they lack in accuracy. Simply running text through Google Translate is not a good idea with any translation, especially not a translation for advertising purposes. Machine translation is literal. It runs the text through its online dictionary and discharges it at the other end of the process, applying no human intelligence in the process. The result not only makes little sense but can seriously damage the integrity of the intended message. Advertising campaigns and associated marketing literature do not come out well when translated using machine translation tools.

4. Understand the culture

What appears to be a good idea in one market could very well be entirely inappropriate in another country or culture. Effective and intelligent advertising translation relies on more than translating the meaning of a message. It involves measuring and assessing the suitability of a communication. An insensitive marketing campaign will at best annoy a potential customer, and, at worst, could offend an entire nation, damaging a company's reputation and shattering customer relations. This extends beyond the words themselves. It is vital to examine all marketing and advertising material, including the individual design elements of a campaign.

“An insensitive marketing campaign will at best annoy a potential customer, and, at worst, could offend an entire nation”

5. Multilingual typesetting and layout

It may be that a translation requires reproduction and reformatting in an unfamiliar typeface or layout. In this instance, basic translation might not be adequate and the services of a highly skilled and professional translator are essential. In order that the advertising translation has the highest resonance with the customer in every global market, a specialist in non-Roman alphabets or uncommon diacritical marks could be required.

6. Adapt SEO to the target market

Chances are you’re well prepped on all things SEO in your domestic market, and that all online content is carefully created with this in mind. But you might be missing a trick by assuming that the same strategy can be applied internationally. SEO must be tailored and adapted to each individual market to ensure it achieves maximum traction with its audience. A translator or native speaker fully versed on the intricacies of professional translation is essential in obtaining the maximum reach online.

7. Trust local experts

Maintaining consistency is vital for a brand to establish itself internationally. But this doesn’t mean that advertising campaigns can be rolled out using identical templates. Consultation should be employed by experts familiar with issues of localization in each and every market, especially when considering the use of appropriate and effective language. And it is important to trust these experts. While you may have an innate understanding of what makes your customers tick in familiar territories, you might not be best placed to make decisions in all markets. Some expert suggestions may appear unusual or even odd, but just because they are not what you’d normally choose, they shouldn't be discounted. Instead, all opinions and voices should be heard and a decision formulated from a local perspective.

It takes more than a person who can simply translate a foreign language to successfully navigate global markets. It takes native speakers who live and breathe the local culture and completely understand the subtleties of the language. Effective translation in advertising relies on experts who can use their knowledge and experience to thoughtfully translate and recreate messages for the target audience.

If you are ready to take your advertising global, find expert native translators and specialized translation companies on Smartcat.