ADVERTISING TRANSLATION IS A SPECIALISED BUSINESS

It is rare for a business to not need advertising. The few exceptions would be local monopolies like the corner shop in a remote village. “Take it or leave it” might be the motto! Most businesses cannot rely on word-of-mouth marketing and this is even truer if the business has its sights on an international market.

Competition is the Driver of the Search for Effective Marketing

Advertising material may take the form of traditional adverts in the media, such as on TV, in papers and magazines, in flyers, billboards, and increasingly via social media and the business’s own website. If it wasn’t for the inconvenience of competition, advertising would be a lot simpler. A business could provide useful, truthful information about its products or services and what they might cost and leave it to customers to ask questions or make purchases. However, life tends to be more complicated than that. Competition means that there is a lot of investment in clever marketing to make a business’s products and services more appealing than its competitors. Most marketing emphasises the strengths of what is being advertised and not the weaknesses.

What is Localisation?

The other challenge for businesses marketing their products to an ethnically or linguistically diverse market is that their marketing material needs to be translated into the language of potential customers and translated sensitively so that the content does not offend cultural, religious, or legal peculiarities. 

This type of translation is generally referred to as ‘localisation’. It is a step further than normal translation as the translator must be very familiar with the social and cultural norms of the intended market in addition to being a first-rate translator.
To give an example of the subtle but real difference between translation alone and localisation is a comparison between translating instructions for using a new electronic device and translating just how good the device is to those people who have yet to make a decision about which device to buy. The former doesn’t need localisation skills as such, although in the case of a difference in units (e.g. mm, inches, oC, oF, etc.) the translator must be aware of this. However, marketing the device may very well need sensitive localisation. The very name of the device may need to be changed to suit different markets. A name for the device in English, for instance, maybe profanity or just plain absurd in another language. Things like colours may have cultural significance. If people are used in marketing, what they wear could be significant. Dialects, colloquial phrases, and idioms are all part of normal marketing and need to be adjusted to the market for which the sales are intended to be pitched.
This might seem that it is not entirely the translator’s job. That would be correct – that’s why it is the job of a translator who offers localisation services as well as translation. They may not design the images, colours, and video excerpts in a website for example, but because of their localisation skills can provide advice on how these should be amended to suit a market for which they are translating the text of the business’s marketing material.

Summary

Marketing products or services to a traditional market involves skills that concentrate on promoting the products or services over those of competitors. Effective marketing is necessary whenever there is effective competition. It is when the products and services are t be marketed to a linguistically diverse market that translation skills are essential. The marketing material must be translated into the commonly used languages of the new markets. Localisation is an added dimension to translation as it adjusts the text and often things like colours, images, clothing, and slogans to suit the legal, social, cultural, religious preferences of the target market.