Translating your marketing content? It’s ALL about the words!

In today’s competitive business world where faster, cheaper and bigger (as in bigger market share) are the driving forces, it comes as no surprise that global brands are reaching out to business process automation to optimise their operations and to boost their profit margins.

Whether it’s in production, in the executive office or finance, legal, human resources, marketing or sales department, computers have long been firm part of any typical business operation and have been instrumental in improving efficiencies, increasing productivity and in many cases even assuring quality. It’s hard to think how things were done without them! And the translation industry is no exception.

With machine translation (MT) technologies ever advancing, content can literally be translated at the touch of a button. This can be extremely helpful in personal conversations between friends or colleagues, or also when travelling to a foreign country. Similarly, computer aided translation may also be appropriate for content such as user comments and reviews in forums and on blogs.

However, when it comes to marketing content beware of those machine words!

Here’s why:

  1. Purpose and values make a brand
    The days when brand and brand image were something rather mechanical and manufactured are over. At the heart of successful businesses today are relationships, strategic values and purpose, or as Simon Sinek puts it “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
  2. It’s not what you say, but how you say it
    The most successful brands don’t just have strong values and a compelling message, they also have a tone of voice, a way of saying things, which reflects their personality and conveys emotions as well as culture.
  3. Culture cannot be translated
    Whilst in theory word-for-word translations can be correct, in practice they will lack cultural context and consequently fail to resonate with local target audiences. To prevent this from happening, more than translating, marketing content needs trans creating, a process which combines translating with writing (creating).
  4. Creativity is non-literal
    Marketing copy by its very nature often uses creative language and phrases such as idioms, call-to-actions and straplines. Add to this cultural variations and different language characteristics when localising content and it becomes pretty clear that literal translation will not suffice.
  5. More than knowledge, experience is key 
    More than linguistic, or even creative skills, conveying marketing messages in a different language requires real experience and a deep awareness of local culture and world views.

So with purpose, values, tone of voice, cultural awareness, creativity and experience all being very inherently human characteristics, localising marketing content by machine-translation is clearly no viable option. If anything, it could be quite reputation damaging. Literally!


We say ‘Marketing and marketing translation is a strategic undertaking, not an operational one, and therefore it takes time. And humans.”


Do you need help localising your marketing message?

  • We’ve been helping some of the world’s largest B2B corporations and government agencies localise their marketing content, both for internal and external communications
  • We only provide human translations and all our translators are native speakers as well as industry experts
  • We have our own creative artwork team and are specialists in foreign language typesetting

To find out more please review our Case studies, browse our Language services section or, for a no obligation quote, Contact us!