Go global – but stay local

It creates cost efficiencies, brand consistency and helps companies respond quickly to the market, but businesses must also be mindful when centralising their global  marketing functions.

Volkswagen, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall and Renault have all done so recently. Working with one creative agency and centralising their marketing function, they have created everything from a single advertising campaign to a single set of corporate literature, then translated it into the different languages of their international markets.

But while this delivers results in terms of consistency, cost savings and quick turnaround times, if not undertaken carefully, companies can also make real mistakes.

It’s important to note that each country has its own culture and individual style of communication, legal environment, product consumption pattern and national approach to marketing. So, while a single brand or advertising campaign makes sound commercial sense, to be effective, it must also be adapted to reflect not only each country’s language but also their consumer style.

Simply working with a ‘local’ team or individual in each country will ensure local knowledge and expertise is always captured, best practice is shared and the company remains connected to its local customers.

Comtec Translations considers it crucial to work with ‘local’ teams to successfully translate everything from a company’s website and advertising campaign to highly technical product brochures.

They do this by establishing a relationship with a local team or individual early on, and incorporating their feedback regularly so that the company’s preferred style, tone and terminology is consistently reflected in the material, along with the individual country’s values and culture.

This is what happened when creative agency Cogent Elliott appointed Comtec to translate new marketing content for Jaguar’s website and corporate literature into more than ten different languages.

“Brands as strong as Jaguar have a universal image but will be perceived differently according to a country’s wealth, culture and values,” explains Sophie Howe, Director of Comtec Translations. “Our team of top translators worked closely with Jaguar’s local teams to ensure excellent quality of copy that met local market requirements within the agreed global brand image.”

It may be time-consuming, but putting in place a robust translation review process always pays dividends. Here’s how to approach the task:

  1. Find an appropriate contact (or team) within the local market. This person should be used for the duration of the project for consistency. They should be a native speaker with the appropriate level of experience and understanding of the content, and how it’s intended to be used.
  2. Brief the contact so that they understand the review process, and their role within it. Give them necessary reference material, including a glossary of terms created by the translations partner (e.g. Comtec) for the project.
  3. Establish a clear feedback process. For example, this could be an online review tool for InDesign files where revisions can be made in the content. The translations partner will advise on the best way for the local contact to provide feedback based on the file format.
  4. Organise an introduction meeting between the translations partner and the local market contact. This gives everyone the chance to discuss their roles and define the process going forward.
  5. Test the process on a number of markets before rolling it out as variations may be needed.
  6. Ensure enough time is built into the translation process to collate this feedback and make the resulting revisions.
  7. The translations partner should update the translation memory and glossary once the final content is signed off. This ensures the preferred terminology and style is used in all future content, saving time and money going forward.

Click here to read how Comtec Translations worked with agency Cogent Elliott to effectively translate print and online content for Jaguar in over 20 languages.

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