In the course of planning for a new (and very interesting) project from one of our clients we took a look at all the different ways we translate and adapt advertising and marketing content for our clients. We also took a a look at the efforts of our competitors, which were disappointing as usual. We found that despite a growing reliance on metrics to test the promotional punch of a particular phrase or concept, translation of that copy is still done old-school by experienced translators who just sort of know how to write this stuff. Not the case with us, but that secret sauce stuff that my competitors will cut and paste in futile pretends that they can somehow achieve the same standards of excellence. So we’ll stick to overview on this post at least.
Translation to Trans-creation
Rather than simply translating the source material, our trans-creation teams use cultural and linguistic expertise drawn from market knowledge and audience research to produce a culturally appropriate version written for the intended audience in each language/market to inform, entertain and inspire. Job #1: avoid fukuppies
Text featuring creative wordplay based on sound and simile requires won’t work in the target language even if translated accuratetly. Adapting and trans-creating this content — changing the source language to reflect the needs of the target audience — keeps the impact intact. Trans-creation services encompass drafting, testing, and refining stages – similar to the workflow used by advertising agencies to write source copy – in order to achieve the desired effect in the target language.
Translating marketing content requires good style on the part of talented writer/translators. Workflow will vary from project to project but falls generally into these three categories.
- Localization –content is changed to suite local logistics and market requirements.
- Cultural Adaptation –content is adapted to suit local audience attitudes and expectations for professionally styled content indistinguishable from content authored in the original language.
- Trans-creation –content is adapted conceptually to suit local audience requirements as part of the copy-writing process.
So readers, do these categories seem like a a reasonable way to slice this knowledge pie? This is a continuous quality improvement exercise so I would love to hear from the “I’ve got a better idea” team.