What is marketing translation and why it is important

importance marketing translation

What is marketing translation and why it is important


Any brand aiming at reaching new markets and new countries needs marketing translation, if they want to attract their new multilingual customers.


A simple translation of the source text won’t make the magic happen: depending on their culture, people are attracted by different product features, they do not share the same sense of humor, and may get offended by content which is perfectly acceptable in other cultures. That is why it is crucial to analyze the clients’ goals and their target audience first thing. After that, the target text can be accordingly adapted in order to meet the expected brand’s objectives.

When doing a marketing translation, the main challenge is writing a text that resonates with the new audience, without betraying the original brand voice. Anywhere they go and whatever content they see, people must be able to recognize a brand, which is usually associated with a specific set of values.

The high visibility of marketing texts is another aspect to consider. They will not be read by a small group of experts of a specific field. On the contrary, they target a very broad audience and virtually anyone can access them. Cultural errors or lack of accuracy will be immediately noticed and it will be difficult to win back the customers’ trust.

Getting a professional translation service will ensure you that the work is done flawlessly and successfully. This will strengthen the brand’s identity, while preserving its uniqueness.


Text types


Think about marketing translation: which text types do you think of? Ad texts, brochures, taglines and slogans, marketing campaigns to run abroad and so on. These are correct answers, but if we take a broader perspective, we’ll notice that marketing content may be hiding in different (unexpected) places. Let’s see them together.

  • Market researches and press releases: they seem to have an official and detached tone, but still they must convey the voice of the brand publishing them. Moreover, do not forget that a more friendly tone is now becoming a more preferred solution following to the last trends.
  • Catalogues and product descriptions: don’t be misled by the abundance of technical terms. When reading these texts, the potential buyer must be able to recognize the brand and its values. Moreover, adjustments are often needed to address worries or take advantage of motivations that change a lot from one culture to another.
  • Websites: marketing translation is everywhere in websites, especially in those pages aiming at introducing the digital or physical product the business wants to sell. Microcopies (i.e. call to action buttons, notifications, messages) also share this marketing component. More and more brands are deciding to shift from a standard and impersonal communication (“Enter full name”) to one closer to the user (“What’s your name?”), in order to inspire positive emotions and thus foster the product promotion.


How marketing translation differs from “classic” specialized translation?


Basically, a marketing text is a combination of sentences and words accurately chosen to attract the readers’ attention and provoke a reaction, such as encouraging them to buy a product or subscribe to a service. Translators do not generally have the time to do such a deep linguistic analysis and almost rewrite the text. However, this is not an excuse for completely adhering to the source and writing a word-for-word translation.

A technical translator must write a text terminologically accurate, with a simple, clear and direct style that can often mimic the source’s. A marketing translator, instead, must focus on transposing meaning, brand values and tone of voice. We’re not saying that marketing texts do not contain terms (on the contrary, using the correct marketing terminology is of the upmost importance), but everything is considered in a broader perspective, to improve cultural adaptation. While a technical translator must be an expert of the industry they are specialized in, a marketing translator must have an extensive knowledge of the target audience, be able to take into account demographic aspects, interests, religious influences, expectations, sensibilities, and be aware of how the brand will be perceived.


Differences between a prepared and unprepared translator

Translations done by unprepared marketing translators are often linguistically correct, but they do not seem to be conceived and written in the target audience language and for that specific market. Lack of rhythm, non-fluent style, heavy linguistic structures, repetitions, unnaturally long sentence, etc. Anyone will immediately understand that they are reading a translation. Literal translations and calques should not be allowed. The translator’s task is to get the main meaning of the text and then rephrase, in order to convey the original message using the language the target audience would naturally use.

Here’s a list of challenges that marketing translators must face every day:

  • Choosing the right register, more or less formal.
  • Using an inclusive language.
  • Translating humor, as people from different cultures do not laugh at the same jokes.
  • Adapting metaphors and idioms.
  • Overcoming cultural barriers, here the client can help to understand how to adapt concepts that are not spread everywhere.
  • Shifting the focus on different values: for example, family has a key role in Italy, while other cultures may focus more on revenues, sense of community, independence, socializing and so on
  • Adding pieces of information to support the user: for example, Italian users are less experienced with technology than their US counterparts, and thus they may need details which are taken for granted in the source text.

Finally, do not underestimate the importance of text length. Many languages, including French or Italian, are well-known for having complex syntactic structures, while single words are generally quite long. As a result, if you are translating from English in one of the above mentioned languages, the target text may be up to 30% longer than the source text. The real challenge is writing the same message with fewer words without depriving it of its original power.


And what about transcreation?

Transcreation can be defined as the “sister” of marketing translation. These two activities are often related and it is not so uncommon to do a bit of transcreation when taking care of a marketing translation. However, this type of service is generally limited to specific parts of texts or documents, such as taglines and slogans, or exceptionally creative titles. Styles, colors and images, which inspire different emotions depending on the target audience, can also be included.

When you do a transcreation, the original words are completely altered and the translation process almost resembles a copywriting task. You add or remove parts of the sentences to recreate puns, repetitions, alliterations and other figures of speech. From a literal point of view, the source and the target texts may seem completely different, but the core message is preserved: different words will communicate to the new audience the same idea that the original audience get from the source text.

If you have read so far, we are sure you have now understood why marketing translation is so important.

But how can this be applied to your content?

Don’t worry. Contact us and ask anything you want to know. Our team will be happy to address your questions and help you!



Cristina Siragusa

Traduttrice e revisore: Lettrice accanita, ama gli animali e adora viaggiare per scoprire nuovi luoghi e culture. Non aspetta altro che arrivi l’estate, ma ha un debole per la cioccolata calda.

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