Automotive translation tips to boost your company’s global reach

automotive translation

Here at Comtec we work with some of the most well known names in the automotive and motorsport industries. Companies like Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover who sell their vehicles around the world are some of our clients; as well as suppliers such as Delphi Automotive, Tool Connection and Impetus Automotive.

That makes us a bit of a specialist when it comes to automotive translation. We’ve built a great team of translators, linguists and project managers who have extensive experience working in the automotive industry. They are without a doubt the best people possible to have on your side when translating product marketing collateral, websites, technical information and other assets for global markets!

Ahead of the RACE TECH World Motorsport Symposium – an event we are proud to be sponsoring this year – I thought it would be useful to share some of this expertise and provide you with three crucial automotive translation tips that will help increase your company’s global reach.

3 tips for better automotive translations

  1. Know your customer

Before you can start any translation project it is important to understand who your company is communicating with. Of course, you’ve done this exercise before when the source content was created; you’ve looked at buyer personas and tailored the copy and visuals (audio too if it’s a video) for consumers in your local market. But now you’re targeting consumers in a different market and they sometimes have very specific ideas about how they like to be communicated with.

There may be a cultural characteristic that means your source content is less effective in that market. For example, the tone might be too casual for a country that is reserved and formal in their approach to marketing communications. Or there may be images that require localisation because they don’t reflect the customer experience in that market.

So my first tip is to ask in market reviewers to look at all your source content and feedback what aspects of it works in your target market, and what doesn’t. You may also like to ask them to review your buyer personas and align these with the market too.

In market reviewers could be native-speaking colleagues working in that market, suppliers or distributors, or your translation service provider can recommend someone to carry out this initial market research.

  1. Agree technical terminology

Automotive translations generally contain a lot of technical terminology. Often there can be more than one word that can be used when translating industry terms and phrases. So for consistency and for ensuring your text flows, a glossary of terminology and common phrases should be created.

However, you may want to create two glossaries. One for industry associates (suppliers, distributors etc.) and one for customers. In English we often use certain words when communicating with customers that we wouldn’t use when talking to people in the industry. The same is true in other countries too.

Again, your in market reviewers can help define the most appropriate technical terminology for the market. Make sure the people who work on this have current industry experience to do this effectively, and also relevant marketing experience for customer-focussed content.

Further down the line your glossary of technical terminology will be invaluable later in the translation project. Translation companies like Comtec use Translation Memory software to speed up the process, and reduce costs. The translated technical terms and phrases in your glossary will become the backbone of this.

  1. Preserve the brand identity but give your translation team creative licence

One of the reasons some marketing translations fail to make the right impact in a new market is when only standard translation services are used. Standard translation involves replacing your source text with words in the target language that mean exactly the same. This works very well for simple messages and technical information, but not so well for more emotive and compelling content.

Straplines, calls to action and advertising copy often contain language that is very specific to the market it was originally created for, and this means it may not resonate as well in a different language or country.

This is where a process called transcreation comes into its own. Transcreation, or ‘creative translation’, will take your source text and adapt it for the market preserving the brand identity and core message. It’s a process of dialling up or down certain elements of the text so it’s just as effective in the new market as it was in the old.

I hope these three tips will help you with your next automotive translation project. If you have any questions or need more advice please get in contact – we’re always happy to share our expertise.

If you’re planning to attend the RACE TECH World Motorsport Symposium at the end of this month why not come and say hello? Comtec has a stand you can visit, or if you would like to arrange a meeting during the event you can contact me on +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or showe@comtectranslations.com

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