Marketing translation for global businesses

Marketing translation

There is little doubt that marketing translation plays a key role in the international success of a company, product or service. Translation in the marketing and communication sector is vital to the globalisation of a company and it is about so much more than just translation. Content that is both interesting and attractive must also be written to have an impact on the local market. Unlike in other sectors, marketing translators have to be great writers or "copywriters" as they are known in marketing circles.


Marketing translation is always at odds with non-professional translation

Marketing translation is one area where it is particularly important to adapt the meaning of the content from one language to another. Even so, many marketing managers continue to choose to translate their campaigns using free online translator software or with the help of an employee who has some knowledge of the target language. Big mistake! In order for a marketing translation to be effective and have the same impact internationally, it must be done by a professional native translator, and even better if they are specialised in marketing translation. And, on the other hand, the content must be adapted to the international target market.

In previous articles, we have talked about some embarrassing translation errors which were widely ridiculed. This could have been avoided if these companies had chosen a professional marketing translation.

Blunders committed for lack of a marketing translation

Mango and their slave bracelets

In 2013, the fashion company Mango decided to launch its harem-style bracelets in France. They opted to literally translate the name of this type of bracelet (known in Spanish as a "slave bracelet") and were not aware that this was not the correct translation in the French language. As a result, nobody understood what the pieces were and, despite their success in Spain, nobody in France wanted to buy a bracelet whose name was connected to a lamentable part of French history.


A laxative with your beer?

Coors is an American beer brand from Wisconsin which arrived on Spanish shores with its famous slogan "Turn it loose". But when launching the campaign in Spain, the translation turned the evocative slogan into something altogether more scatalogical, "Let it all out," which caused mirth and mockery. We're sure that Coors employed professional marketing translators once they realised their mistake and will continue to make a splash in the Spanish market.


Pepsi brings the dead back to life

Even the biggest companies can get it wrong: Just ask soft-drink giant Pepsi. For the Taiwanese market Pepsi launched its campaign "Pepsi brings you back to life". The translation for the new target market was far too literal, with the Taiwanese slogan translating as: “Pepsi will bring back your ancestors”. Now that's scary!

With these examples in mind, we're sure you'll agree that counting on a translation agency whose translators specialise in marketing translation is important to avoid putting the proverbial foot in one's mouth.


Beyond marketing translation: transcreation.

Transcreation is a service that is in increasing demand within the marketing sector. If we analyse the word itself, we see the prefix trans means “beyond ”, “through” or “change”.

We can define transcreation as a creative form of translation where the translator has much more freedom to move away from the source text and create a new text - one capable of having the same emotional impact on the target readers. Translators who produce this type of translations, in addition to being native in the target language, are also specialised in copywriting. What type of texts usually require transcreation?

  • Slogans.
  • Publicity campaigns.
  • The core content of a marketing campaign designed to cause an impact.
  • On a website, we could use transcreation to adapt the title of our home page and the most relevant text.
  • Advertising posters.


Some examples of transcreation

With transcreation, the important thing is to capture the essence of the message, how it makes the audience of the source language feel, and to transfer it to the language of the target market. As such, a literal translation of "Freude am Fahren" is "driving pleasure". Transcreation took it to the next level and transformed it into one of the most successful car campaigns in recent years, creating BMW's famous "Pure driving pleasure" slogan. But transcreation goes even further. Sometimes, the marketing translator or transcreator decides not to translate the message and leave the slogan in its original language. This is the case for a number of major campaigns such as Volkswagen's famous "Das Auto," Nike's "Just do it", "Impossible is nothing" from Adidas or McDonald's "I'm loving it".

Along these lines, the fast food chain McDonald's are experts in transcreating not only messages but also menus and even colours.

The typical Coca-Cola bottles and cans with the names printed on them are also a marketing technique to make people feel closer to the brand, as customers search for their names and those of their loved ones whilst also sharing photos on social media. In different countries, these names have been transcreated, adapted to the most popular names in those countries. Viva la marketing translation!


To summarise, because all countries are their own markets with particular characteristics and peculiarities, it is important to opt for a professional marketing translation. Or at least it should be for all companies that want to successfully reach their potential clients. Correct marketing translation does not guarantee success, but its absence can ensure a resounding failure.

If you want to speak to a marketing translation company with extensive experience and native translators in all languages, get in touch!

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