Have you ever watched a foreign film with English subtitles on, only to find that the subtitles make absolutely no sense in relation to what’s happening on screen?
Don’t worry, you’re not the first – and while you might be tempted to blame whoever translated the dialogue, there’s a little more to the process of translating content from one language to another than you might think.
As an Aussie, I’m a big fan of sayings like, “no dramas” and “hit the nail on the head”. But if you work in marketing for a global company that has a stake in other nations' markets, whose job is it to take the brand's existing content and make sure it translates for international audiences? It’s not as simple as translating the content word-for-word.
What about a marketing campaign initially geared towards Baby Boomers, that now needs to be tweaked to appeal to Millennials? Literally, the language is the same… but the language is different.
From North Americans to Australasians, men to women, senior citizens to fresh-faced teenagers, white collar to blue collar, every demographic responds to a different tone of voice – especially in regards to marketing.
As someone who specialises in transcreation, I take content that was designed for other markets and reword it to cater for local audiences. It might be a matter of adopting some idioms, slang and colloquialism that will directly target local audiences, or it might be a case of tweaking the core message to align with your desired audience's attitudes and values.
However I do it, the result is a clear message that ensures your product or service receives the same response from a new audience that it saw in its original market.