The translation brief – the recipe for a successful international marketing campaign

We know the thought of working on an international marketing campaign can be both exciting and daunting.

As experts in all things creative, you’ve spent a lot of time, care and effort developing effective and engaging marketing copy in English for your client’s campaign. You’ve also established a detailed and structured brief with your client, which clearly outlines the style and tone of voice they are looking for, their brand identity and desired brand positioning, as well as the goals and results they want to achieve.

So when it comes to translating and localising these materials to deliver the campaign internationally, you’re understandably nervous. How can you ensure that the campaign is delivered as successfully in French, for example, as you’ve delivered it in English?

Enlisting the services of an experienced partner translation agency is the first step to success – as language specialists, they will assign the most appropriate professional, native-speaking translators to work on your project.

But before a marketing translation or website translation project can begin, it’s important that your translation partner fully understands the purpose of the text they’re translating, as well as the background and aims of the campaign. In order for the translations to hit the mark and ensure your campaign is delivered successfully in the target markets, providing your translators with a clear brief is essential.

Below I outline how to put together an excellent brief to achieve the best results.

Discuss localisation with local market teams

Marketing copy is of course written with a clear purpose; raising brand awareness, driving customers to a website, promoting a product or service.

How the copy translates into a different language can have a significant impact on its effectiveness. In some cultures, a direct request to buy a product may be perceived as rude. Conversely, an understated call to action may be lost completely when translated into another language; nuances and subtleties can be very culturally specific things.

We recommend reaching out to your client’s in-market teams to gain invaluable local insights and knowledge. They can look at the original English copy and advise on whether the messages will translate effectively to that target market and how they the style and approach may need to be tweaked in the translations. Their expert feedback on cultural characteristics, consumer behaviour, tone of voice and brand perception can then inform your translation brief.

Collate relevant reference material

Consistency of language, terminology and tone is a key consideration when translating marketing copy. If the client has existing translations or even product information in English these should be provided for reference and to inform the brief.

Collating brand positioning statements is also important. In-market teams should have sight of these so they can feedback on how these brand values and messages will play in the target market. In some cases, it may be necessary to dial up a core value because it carries more weight, whilst another may not resonate so strongly with the target audience and therefore be dialled down.

This is why professional marketing translations combine translation with transcreation – this is where your content is subtly tweaked to make it more relevant, engaging and compelling in your target market. It may involve editing some copy to optimise it for that market, as well as other localisation services such as changing images or graphics so they are appropriate for that market.

What to include in the brief

Now that you’ve gathered valuable information, your brief should clearly define the required tone of voice, terminology, company jargon and stylistic requirements. It’s also important to include many of the points that you would include in a standard creative brief, such as:

  • Objectives: be clear what the purpose of the content is for
  • Target audience: include the buyer personas using the information from the local markets
  • Scope for creativity: does the translation need to adhere strictly to the English version, or is there scope to make changes that help its effectiveness in the target market?

Benefits of a great marketing translation brief

Putting together a detailed brief may seem like extra work, however the results are worth it! The following three benefits are good reasons to spend a little more time developing a brief with your translation agency and the client at the very beginning of the project:

  1. Time Savings: A good brief always results in fewer amends later in the project. Just as with a creative brief, if we all understand each other from the start the work produced is better aligned with the end goals.
  2. Cost Savings: Time is of course money, so with time savings there are also cost savings. There are also long-term cost savings if a client has on-going translation requirements. All this work now can be used again and again. We use translation memory software that stores client-specific terminology and phrases; this means reduced costs on subsequent projects.
  3. Quality: Creative and marketing content has to result in actions, and for this to happen you need a quality translation. By investing time in the brief every stage of the translation will adhere to those guidelines and therefore result in more refined and effective translations.

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail or talk to us about offering marketing translations and transcreation to your clients, please get in touch. We’d be happy to go through the process so you have a better understanding of the services available, and how you can partner with a translation agency to provide your clients with these.

You may also like to learn more about transcreation by reading this blog – What’s the difference between translation, transcreation and copywriting?

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