Translation from English to Chinese is a nightmare. Facebook is full of websites dedicated to ridiculous translations on store signs, billboards and t-shirts. And just last week we had a client ask why their Chinese team was upset that the global team actually used Google Translate for their marketing brochure – can you imagine how mangled that was?
Our dear friends of translation companies often come to the rescue – turning out around 40 pages in a few days of serviceable copy. But this often has to be completely re-written – straight translations always lose unless you are doing very technical translation. But marketing copy or brand messages? Prepare for confusion and perhaps even embarrassment.
Translation is not marketing – if you want to attract target customers and position your company in a foreign market, you’re going to have to put in more effort than just going for a translation. It’s the same with ad campaigns – designed specifically for one market they rarely translate well, or at the least just confuse the target audience.
Transcreation (“translation” + “creation”) is a term used by translation agencies and some marketers to describe their approach – basically writing original copy from a client brief. This is already a much better step than trying to just do translation.
How do we do it?
We take it several steps beyond transcreation. It’s not just about the client brief – we actually need to understand the client’s position, which means understanding competitors, the market, and the company’s strengths.
For brand positioning and messaging we go through a version of the Brandigo brand methodology, which includes:
- defining the company’s points of differentiation,
- analyzing the competition
- interviewing stakeholders, from clients to suppliers and employees
From this we develop a brand narrative, and then work on the messaging, which may even include analyzing the look and feel of the localized marketing collaterals. So this process might affect everything from the visuals to the slogan.
At the end of the day look closely at how you are localizing and translating your brand in China – and other countries.