When HSBC launched the campaign ‘Assume Nothing’ into new markets, they made a huge oversight. Their tagline, which they had been using for over 5 years, mistranslated to ‘Do Nothing’ in many territories. Whilst the internet certainly got a laugh, it cost HSBC £6.8m to rectify the problem.
It’s easy to pass this aside as a problem for big corporates but mistakes in communications can cost your brand, regardless of your size. One study found that a single spelling mistake can cut your online sales in half.
Whilst you might not be preparing for a global billboard campaign, it’s important to keep consistent high-quality translations in everything you do, whether that’s a social post, video or brochure. The dangers of not doing so are multiple, from your potential customers not understanding your product (and therefore not buying) to being culturally insensitive or risking legal action from unclear instructions. You can read about these risks in our blog about internal comms here.
If you’ve just landed an international client or spent months perfecting a new campaign, don’t ‘do nothing’ and let your hard work fall at the last hurdle. Put as much care into your translations as you do the marketing content, that way you’ll make sure it delivers your message – regardless of the language.
Here are six tips for ensuring high-quality marketing translations:
1. Choose the right level of localisation
It’s common for readers to misinterpret a message even in their native language. Scaling a communication for a global audience makes it even more likely to take on a slightly different meaning. Whilst your campaign might be global, you need to think like a local.
Localising content reduces this risk and helps customers feel like the content was written just for them – boosting their engagement. That’s why we work with linguists who are based in the market we are translating for. Not only are they hand-picked for their subject expertise, but their on the ground knowledge means we can ensure our translations are technically and culturally accurate.
There are different levels of localisation, from translation (the words) through to transcreation (imagery and artwork). The Localisation Spectrum, featured in our guide ‘Making Every Marketing Communication Count’, is a handy tool to help you decide which messages merit the highest levels of localisation.
2. Avoid false economy
Put as much effort into ensuring each translation is correct as you would creating the source content. By cutting corners at the end, you might end up wasting your hard work and costing your brand revenue and reputation. By working with a translation partner front the start of your process, you can avoid pitfalls that might happen along the way. You’ll have a headstart in spotting any possible problems before you reach them.
3. Work with your local market
Having someone who either works for your company or knows it very well, on the ground in the local market can be hugely beneficial. They will give you crucial insight into any nuisances around how the brand is received in their territory and any local industry information that might be useful.
A good translation partner will work directly with your in-market champion from the start to help mitigate challenges, speed up the translation process, meet deadlines and keep costs down.
4. Give your translators the right toolkit
Comprehensive glossaries, style guides and translation memory software all help translators to achieve accurate, authentic and culturally appropriate translations. Your translation partner will ask you to help build these at the start of your relationship and will continue to update them throughout your time working together in order to speed up the process in future.
5. Speed up translations (without sacrificing quality)
Content is könig (king). We’re producing more content than ever thanks to social media making it easier to get your brand out into the world. Between tweets, tik toks and timelines, there are endless opportunities for you to spread your message.
You are trying to keep up with this content demand and you’re turning videos, posts and emails around quicker than you can say hashtag. But when it comes to translations you can’t rely on Google to always get it right. You need a translation partner who understands the pressure you’re under and is flexible and speedy enough to keep up with you. This means making sure you have the right partner to start with (nice to meet you) and the right processes and tools to produce content at the speed you need.
6. Tailor content for the communication channel
As we mentioned in the last point, there are plenty of platforms for your brand message to be delivered on. But in the last few years, none have really taken off quite as much as video. Gone are the days when only big-budget corporations could afford video, with most of us carrying a powerful camera in our pockets, video is open to the masses.
There are a few considerations when it comes to using video, firstly if you’re planning on using a platform like YouTube make sure it’s accessible to that country. Then when it’s time to translate consider whether you need translated subtitles or if you need a voice-over instead.
Localisation is as important in video as it is for written work, some colours, imagery or styles of film might not resonate in different countries. It’s best to speak to your translation partner, before filming if possible, to identify any sensitivities.
Putting quality at the heart of your translations
At Comtec, we believe that quality is essential to customer engagement. To help our clients eliminate the dangers of poor translations, we build quality into all our processes.
All our linguists are based in-market to ensure they have the cultural awareness needed for the effective translation and localisation of our clients’ communications. Each linguist has their own area of specialism, so whether a client is a manufacturer or a creative agency, a law firm or an eLearning developer, we’re able to cherry-pick the right translators to meet their needs. Each translation team is supported with client-specific resources to help them deliver accurate translations, such as glossaries and style guides.
We also help our clients to streamline their translation processes and incorporate feedback from local market champions. This enables our clients to meet urgent deadlines without compromising on quality.
Each year, our systems are re-certified to three separate ISO standards: ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 17100 (Translation Management) and ISO 18587 (Post-editing of Machine Translation).
If you don’t want to end up on an internet list of brand translation fails, then get in touch to see how we can help your brand be seen and heard across the globe.