So, you’ve got great marketing copy in one language and a burning desire to reach out to customers around the world. How do you make sure that your copy works in the languages of your international target audience and convinces them as well as the customers at home?

You need a team that is intimately familiar with the culture and the language that your copy was initially produced for but that also knows your brand, marketing approach and target audience well. This is where a professional, creative language services team comes in.

Here’s a how to for empowering such a team to produce content that helps expand your brand and presence into new international markets:

1. Write an informative project brief

You know who your text is aimed at, what your brand is about and how you want your message to come across – tell us. Better yet, show us!

“Ideally, we need a detailed brief that specifies how far from literal the translation can go, but that also includes the branding guidelines, information about the target platform and audience, and any linguistic style guides you may have for the source or target languages.”

Mihaela Ikonomova, Project Management Team Leader

Our ISEO and marketing services

We provide expert multilingual marketing services, including international search engine optimisation (SEO), copy adaptation and cultural consultation.

2. Share any reference materials you might have

If there are previous translations, terms you use consistently or content that is related to the product or service at hand, share them with us. That way, we can use the same type of language and get a better idea of what you need.

“Reference material should always include the source content in its presentation format, whether it be a PDF, website or video. This enables the translator to see the context and whether there are visual cues that might give the text a different meaning or flavour.”

Emma Norlin, Senior Swedish Translator

3. Send your copy in an editable format

Any language service provider worth their salt will be able to work with multiple file formats. But for the translators to ensure consistency and use translation technology as efficiently as possible, we recommend sending editable, non-restrictive formats.

“For marketing translations, editing in a format like Word lets me play about with the sentence structure more easily. The segment structure of translation memory environments can stifle creativity – but not always, of course! When I work on marketing texts in memoQ, I like to use term bases so I can add and see a number of alternatives as a way of reducing repetition (unless repetition is required as a style device, of course). That is the strength of translation memories and glossaries with this type of content, to serve as inspiration even more than as a consistency checking tool.”

Danielle Davis, Nordic-English Lead Translator

4. Tell us what you need from our workflow

In the translation industry, a standard quality-assurance workflow involves having two linguists work on each text: a translator and a reviser. Usually, the original translator finalises the copy before it’s delivered to the client.

Compared to text that’s translated for information purposes or that needs to stay true to the original for legal reasons, marketing translation is a different beast. For transcreation projects, we can add a third pair of eyes to the process. The outcome needs to be effective – and that might mean different things in different languages.

“Whenever a client enquires about our marketing and transcreation services, we make sure to ask the client plenty of questions to determine what workflow would be suitable for their requirements. Sometimes two linguists are sufficient, other times we might recommend involvement of a third linguist, who reviews the target in isolation from the source, with a focus on readability and fluency, and of course in accordance with the brief. This last option is especially useful for high-visibility marketing copy.”

Amy Cottrell, Key Account Manager

5. Define how localised you want the final product to be

If your copy has been written for an American audience, for example, it is simply not going to work for a Swedish one as is – even if your translator does a good job of rendering it into idiomatic Swedish. The style, cultural references, the length of the sentences and the way the audience is addressed would still not be quite right.

The service you want to enquire about is transcreation: a process that involves customising the copy in order to transfer the intent and impact of the message for your target market.

“We worked on an account where ‘hot girls’ were regularly used to advertise a ‘manly’ everyday product. The cultural context meant that mere translation just wasn’t going to cut it for the Nordic countries, which is our regional market of expertise. Our translators flagged that this kind of marketing approach would absolutely not resonate culturally in the Nordic countries and would be detrimental to the product rather than beneficial.”

Katherine Walters, Project Management Team Leader

6. Be prepared to provide clarification

You are the expert on your copy and your product. To match the quality and confidence of the translated content to that of the original, we may send you queries. A productive dialogue helps us produce the best possible target text.

“I will send a query if there is anything in the source that is unclear or if there is an error that makes it difficult to parse the actual meaning or intention. Sometimes, it’s necessary to check preferred terms as well. An unambiguous response helps me create a text that is suitable for the intended purpose and target culture and conveys the correct meaning.”

Emma Norlin, Senior Swedish Translator

7. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to linguistic services

Perhaps you need us to translate a campaign slogan or a title, maybe you need guidance on cultural connotations before launching an advertising campaign. These need an in-depth understanding of the source and the culture that it was created for, but also creative flair and an intimate knowledge of the target culture and language.

“We offer a variety of creative language services. One client asks us to translate film titles. We love these jobs where they might ask for a literal translation and a separate title recreation based on the plot, and then a back translation to explain what the recreation means. They also invite us to provide comments about our rationale. For another client, we work on connotation checks, where we ask linguists to look at marketing terms and provide their thoughts on whether the terms have the connotations the client is looking for.”

Katherine Walters, Project Management Team Leader

8. The devil is in the (final) details

When your copy will be highly visible and heavily formatted, even small changes to the length of a paragraph or a longer word (hello, Nordic compound nouns!) can result in the need to modify the final layout. We recommend a final linguistic check after any layout changes to ensure that none of the quality produced in the translation has been lost in the formatting process.

“The way a text is laid out will always impact the message. An in-context review once the translation and revision are done helps make sure that the layout is correct and that the text works with the paragraph breaks, the title placement and the visuals.”

Emma Norlin, Senior Swedish Translator

9. And repeat

Once you find a stellar team of copywriters, you don’t let them go. Good creative translators are similarly skilled at crafting copy that reflects the source. Since each professional has their own creative process – and creative output is only effective if there’s a personal touch – it doesn’t make sense to use a different team for each project.

“When you go back to the same team, you know they are familiar with the expected style and register and aware of the target audience. They also have a key role in maintaining the language assets and reference materials, such as translation memories and glossaries, which helps keep style and terminology consistent and provide the same high quality quicker in the long run.”

Martta Mäkinen, Account Linguist Team Leader

Creative services, Editor’s Pick, Marketing translation, Translation industry