How to Maintain Your Brand Voice In Translated Content

October 18, 2020
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I’m willing to bet that you put a lot of time, effort, and budget into creating top-quality content for your home market.
Am I right?
After all, the content you create is the voice of your brand. Any content that goes out on behalf of your company will affect people’s perception of that brand. Like all good marketers, you like to retain a level of control over your content so that you can ensure that it represents your company in the right way.
This is why it can be so aggravating when you are working with translated content.
As soon as you send your content to the translators, suddenly it feels like you lose all control over it. Unless you speak the target language fluently yourself, it seems like there’s no way you can tell how the content will perform in your international market.
As a result, many marketers have a lot of uncertainty when they are working with translators. It feels like their carefully crafted brand voice has been pulled through the mud.
How can you take control of your brand voice when working with translators?

Why marketers lose control of their translated content

The loss of control is a very common concern when working with translated content.
And this concern is certainly reasonable.
It’s surprisingly common for companies to spend huge amounts of time and budget translating their branded content only for the local representatives in their international markets to completely rewrite the content themselves. When questioned, the representatives say “it just didn’t sound right” but they are often unable to clarify exactly why the content doesn’t work in the target language.
This can be infuriating for any good marketer. We don’t understand why the translated content isn’t working!
Suddenly, it feels like those many hours and significant budget that we spent creating high-quality content was a complete waste of time. Of course, the people in our home market get the benefit of our quality English content… but we want our brand voice to remain consistent throughout our international markets!
At this point, many people just throw up their hands in despair. Maybe it’s just impossible to create brand-consistent marketing content internationally!
Or perhaps you try one, two, or twenty new translation providers before you throw in the towel. Finally, you decide that your international customers will have to get a less-than-perfect experience of your brand (as much as it pains you to admit it).

Why marketing content is trickier to translate

The truth is that it is absolutely possible to create high-quality, brand-consistent content for your international markets.
Even better, you don’t have to break your budget to do it. You don’t have to go the lengths that huge multinational companies go to — like Coca Cola that works with elite marketing companies in each international market to ensure their brand voice works effectively everywhere.
However, you do need to understand the fundamental difference between translating marketing content and translating technical content.

Technical content: an easier translation task

The most common type of content that companies translate is technical content. This includes things like product manuals, specification sheets, frequently asked questions, etc.
Technical content is comparatively simple to translate well because its primary purpose is to communicate information. As long as the information is communicated to the consumer of the content, it has done its job.

Marketing content: the challenge of persuasion

The difficulty that arises with marketing is that it has a very different purpose. Essentially, all marketing content involves persuasion.
Even when your content isn’t specifically trying to persuade people to buy your products or services, it may be persuading them that they have a problem worth solving, persuading them that your company is worth their attention, or persuading them to consider their options.
As soon as persuasion comes into the mix, our content needs to do more than just inform.
This is what makes marketing content more complex to translate.
You’re not just translating the information, you also want to translate the intention, the emotion, and the style of the original content. All of these factors together are what creates your unique brand voice.

The lesser-known fact that affects marketing translation

Many companies don’t realize that this difference affects the translation process.
In fact, both types of content need a different type of translation.
The two types of translation are:
  1. Basic translation — The words themselves are translated into the target language. The primary purpose of this type of translation is to ensure an accurate translation of the meaning of the words.
  2. Transcreation — This translation requires more creativity than basic translation. Instead of just translating the words, the specialist translator works to translate the intention behind those words. They match the emotion and style of the original content and ensure that the content meets the intended purpose.
Marketing content often requires transcreation, not just basic translation.
You want your brand voice in your international markets to evoke similar feelings to those it evokes in your home market. This requires that the translator uses more creativity and has a deeper understanding of your intentions than if you were just translating a user manual.

Is transcreation really different?

It’s worth noting that some people claim that transcreation is no different from translation. They argue that all translation is creative to some degree and that any good translator should be using similar techniques as transcreation all the time.
Although there is an element of truth to this perspective when you are working with one individual translator to translate a single piece of content, it is not true when you reach enterprise-level translations.
When your company is producing many translations on an ongoing basis — perhaps for multiple languages — you will need to implement different processes to use transcreation than you would for basic translation.

Want to learn if transcreation could be right for you?

Are you interested in finding out if transcreation could be the right solution to regain control of your marketing content?
Just give us a call or send us an email to book a free global content strategy session.
We’ll look at your situation and advise you on whether transcreation is right for you. We can also provide you with some specific tools that you can use to ensure that the translated content really does match your brand voice.
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