How to “transcreate” your marketing materials to serve a global audience

Dear Marketers,

When publishing a new blog post, website update, or important press release for your international users, there’s a key step you can’t afford to neglect: translation / transcreation / copy adaptation.

This step is far more involved than simply seeking a word-for-word translation from your translation services provider, and hoping your international users will benefit.

Marketing content requires attention that is distinct from your app or website’s continuous translation, which typically involves ongoing translations by a single linguistic team. These materials requires the expertise of a linguistic team that specializes in such creative translation, or transcreation as it’s called in the localization industry.

Think of how much effort you poured into crafting your message—you spent hours coming up with the voice, tone, and phrasing to best represent your brand. The same amount of effort, if not more, is required when translating your English copy into a foreign language. Your marketing materials require a full-scale copy adaptation, as opposed to the word-by-word translation that is typical of standard or continuous translation.

A linguist specializing in marketing translation must:

  • Understand the English copy in full. A linguist may need to request clarification on your product, intended audience, tone, or word choice, as some idioms and references resonate exclusively with English audiences (baseball references, for example).
  • Exercise creativity in adapting your message to fit the market-specific requirements of your target language. This involves writing and re-writing, conducting supplemental research, brainstorming, and testing an adapted message.

The copy adaptation task requires a) time and b) an absence of pressure; otherwise, linguists will have their hands forced by impending deadlines, impeding their ability to deliver high-quality text (our French copywriter weighs in on this here … in French!).

It’s a lose-lose situation when linguists find themselves racing the clock:

  • Highly-specialized linguists are unsatisfied with the quality of their work, but must send in deliverables by the deadline. Often, they’ll continue brainstorming beyond the project’s deadline, and come up with a better idea once it’s too late.
  • You will end up publishing lower-quality content in a non-English language, to the detriment of the non-English audience. On a larger scale, this can affect your brand image and credibility among international users.

We highly recommend factoring the need to transcreate your marketing materials into your internal publishing schedule. Leave plenty of time and space for your invisible multilingual colleagues to deliver high-quality translations that properly capture your original message. Your non-English audience members deserve a translated piece that is just as compelling as its English counterpart.

At e2f, we have a team specialized in translation of marketing content, transcreation and copy adaptation. Contact us to discuss your project.