What many marketers don’t realise is that advertising translation entails much more than a simple linguistic approach. Advertising translation includes a set of complex activities which involve cultural differences and shifting contexts.
A concept that one audience understands fluently will be totally different to another and a native-speaking, experienced translator will be aware of the reference points audiences are familiar with. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the best practices for advertising translation to ensure your brand avoids embarrassing faux pas in new markets.
As alluded to, adverts often include cultural reference points which act as a memorable hook for the target audience. However, when translating adverts between languages and cultures, these associations can get lost in translation.
When advertising, businesses are always competing in a crowded field. So, using catchy reference points helps a business stand out from the competition. This might be an idiom, song lyric, or if it’s a video advert – a catchy melody that the audience is familiar with.
When translated into a new language, these touches can go unnoticed or sound strange. That’s why when planning a global campaign, it is important for a marketer to rethink the themes of an advert to create messaging that can be adapted to each audience with ease.
All advertising is shaped and informed by the culture the creators are from. Cultural insights about the way a target audience perceives the world around them can be used to develop a message by the advert’s creators which resonate with the audience when going global.
However, people from different backgrounds or cultures may feel the same advert is jarring and even potentially offensive.
To successfully translate an advert for a new audience, marketers (and translators) must be fully aware of the cultural associations included within.
When translating your advert into new markets, your brand will need to think very carefully about the words used. A literal translation can prove fatal to the success of your campaign – when two disparate languages come together the result can be clumsy, inaccurate or even meaningless.
Metaphors, idioms, jargon and alliteration can be tricky to translate between languages in an elegant way. So, when creating a new global campaign from scratch be mindful of your headlines and straplines, try to embrace universal themes where possible and keep things concise.
All of these factors need to be considered alongside maintaining the voice of your brand. Staying on brand is a challenge when advertising in multiple languages, especially if you do not have language experts in your business. We’ve written on the importance of this before – SMEs with language skills have 30 per cent more success when exporting.
At Bubbles, our language experts can act as an extension of your brand, honouring your brand style when writing in multiple languages, while taking into account cultural nuances.
The medium being translated and adapted for is also relevant – be it digital or print, audio or video we have the experience to tailor your copy to the medium it appears on.
Context is key, we always ensure our translators have the expertise to translate for the medium you are working in and your specific needs. When there is a visual aspect to your marketing, this influences the words chosen. We understand how crucial visuals are to advertising and we like to ensure our translators are exposed to your visuals before they commit pen to paper. In this way, our translations work perfectly in the medium they will appear in.
This is an important point to note as some languages are wordier than others. Last month, in our article covering 10 essential elements of translation we discussed the 39 letter German word “Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften” (meaning automobile liability insurance). Marketers always need to be aware how much visual or print space certain languages require.
English isn’t shy of long words either. Many schoolchildren consider being able to say “Antidisestablishmentarianism” a badge of honour. Coming in at 28 letters long, it has nothing on “Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften”, falling more than 10 letters short. If you were wondering, “Antidisestablishmentarianism” was a 19th century movement against the disestablishment of the Church of England.
For a while, there was a myth that it was the longest English word. Indeed, until 2013 the longest word in the world was “Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz”, another German word, referring to a law relating to the labelling of beef for sale. This word is now out of use. Interestingly, as you can see, it is almost impossible to fit “Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” onto one line, showing the challenges translators face.
Fascinatingly, the longest word in the world is “methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylalanyl…isoleucine”. Why is there an ellipsis in the middle of this word you ask, well because its full length is 189,819 letters. This word is the name of a drug and it’s so long because it is a technical word, which can grow to incredible lengths. Even more interestingly, technically the longest word could be of infinite length; this is due to the nature of compound words where smaller words are joined together to make a new meaning. Compound words are common in German, Finnish, Estonian and English.
While, “hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia” (fear of long words) might not be a pleasant thing for the general public, it’s an occupational hazard for writers, as well as a safety net for translators.
The key to successful advertising translation
The degree to which translation stays faithful to the original text is a key concern. Of course, the ultimate objective of an international marketing campaign is return on investment. The crucial factor influencing ROI is how effectively your messaging is adapted for each target audience.
To benefit from our professional translation services and create awesome international marketing campaigns, which help you reach your expansion goals, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated project managers.