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Accuracy when translating Marketing Collateral

How important is accuracy when translating Marketing Collateral?

For documentation aimed at capturing people’s attention and imagination, a slightly less literal approach to translation is often appropriate. When translating marketing collateral, the aim should be to produce a translated text which ‘speaks’ to the market to which it is destined. Remember, if it took five people half a day to agree on the phrasing of one sentence in the original text; this negotiation will be even more challenging in translation! With this sort of project, there is always a payoff between accuracy and appropriate phrasing; and two translators will often give different (but equally good!) versions of the same collateral.

Marketing collateral and effective localisation

A company’s marketing collateral (in the broadest sense of the term) should be one of its greatest strengths. There is now no doubt that if company literature is not written in the language of the target market, that company will lose business. It’s important to translate brochures, advertising, website and product catalogues into the language, tone, and register that the target customers speak. Furthermore, consideration should be given to differing cultural values and preferences. The quality of your translated content speaks volumes for your own commitment to quality, and respect for local cultures. After all, we’ve all had the experience of reading advertising copy which feels clumsy or inaccurate, simply because it is written in a different ‘version’ of our language.

Take English. A British consumer is unlikely to be won over by an advertising campaign which is primarily addressed to Australians. Although these two countries speak the same language, the cultural differences between them are vast. Consumers have different priorities, different values, different needs. An Australian brewer, for example, might emphasise how refreshing their product is, whilst a British beerseller might concentrate on the flavour.

Find out more: What is Globalisation, Internationalisation and Localisation?

Who is the translation for?

Whether a document is intended for internal or external use will also have an impact on your translation needs.

Clearly, if a document is aimed at potential or existing customers, or any other external stakeholder (such as shareholders) it must be perfect. A more-or-less passable, free, internet-translated version of the target market’s language is simply not enough.

Find out more: Who is the translation really for?

Find out more: Machine Translation: Tips And Tricks

On the other hand, if the only people who will see the document are employees, that document does not really need to be precise. In this case, clients sometimes decide that the quality of translation is not a priority (relative to price and speed, that is). Therefore a client may decide to optimise speed and cost, and forego the quality checking stage of the translation process. This inevitably means that some mistakes slip through, and the phrasing will occasionally be remote from the original. But it will, nonetheless, be a basically readable and comprehensible text.

That said, there is an argument that a company should respect its employees as much as its customers. And, if a multi-national uses a low quality of translation for internal communications, this may ultimately impact on productivity. But now we are straying into management strategy!

The right translator and reviewer

For this and other reasons, a good language service provider (LSP) only works with translators who are native speakers of the target language. In addition, during the final stage of the review process, marketing translations should be evaluated on their own merits; that is, without comparing them to the source text. Having been edited thoroughly for accuracy, a good LSP will check that all translations are phrased in a way that a native speaker would use.

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