Insights March 2, 2018

7 useful tips for outsourcing Advertising Translations

Katharine Marr
By Katharine Marr

Finding a reliable translation agency to transcreate your global advertising campaigns can be a challenge. But once you find the right one, how can you get the best from your agency and its linguists?

Even if you don’t speak the target languages, there are a few relatively simple things you can do to help your translation agency deliver the best possible multilingual copy for your campaign.

Here are our 7 top tips to help you to work efficiently with your translation agency.

1. Know what you want, or if you don’t, just ask!

Of course, you know the end result you need: a campaign that works just as well in your foreign languages as it does in English. But what you need to do linguistically to get to that point however, is not always immediately clear.

Managing translations can seem like a mammoth and complex task, and even somewhat mysterious. But if you know your end goal, then it doesn’t need to be difficult. Your translation agency is best placed to guide you in the right direction, and will be aware and sympathetic to the fact that you may not know the ‘ins and outs’ of translation off the bat.

Consider whether you may need translation, transcreation, or strap line adaptation, and ask to your agency what they recommend.


2. Allow enough time.

Your translation agency will be au fait with the demands and deadlines of the advertising world, and will understand the pressures you are under. However, be aware that just as English copy creation takes time, so does translation!

Remember, translation for advertising (transcreation) is a highly creative process, and plenty of time should be allowed for creative thinking and research.

Also, a little notice goes a long way; so be sure to discuss any potential translation requirements with your agency at the start of the campaign. That way, while you are working on the campaign in English, your translation agency can prepare in the background, saving you and your client precious time later on.

NB. A good translation agency will have all copy for publication proofread by a second linguist, as a matter of course. They will check spelling and grammar, as well as style, tone and consistency. So, time should be included for this crucial part of the process too.

3. Let your agency work with you, not just for you.

To get the best possible results from an advertising translation agency, consider them as part of your team. A good agency will want the same thing as you: to deliver the high quality multilingual copy that your campaign deserves. If the campaign is ongoing, part of your concern will be to ensure consistency of quality, style and terminology throughout. Your agency will want this too.

An open dialogue during the process will help you to swerve preventable problems, and iron out any unavoidable issues as you go. Good communication ensures that your translation agency fully understands your requirements and preferences. Given enough feedback, a good agency can create a glossary of common terms, as well as making required adjustments to tonality on each new translation – at no extra cost to you.

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4. Provide Visuals.

Reference material, particular visuals, are really a must for advertising translations. If you can imagine, given just the ‘words’ from a tv spot or head lines from an ad, without visual reference or the purpose behind them – will it make enough sense? It’s not always obvious when you are at the coal face, but your sizzling strap lines and well-honed smart copy may be flat or meaningless without supporting visual information. Knowing the intent behind the concept, and understanding the target audience is a good start – add visuals to that and you are on to a winner!

Also previous, similar transcreated text can also act as a guide for the linguist in terms of style and tone.

Which brings us to…

5. Leave enough room!

Did you know that French copy is approximately 25% longer than English? Your perfectly laid-out brochure may look great after your designer has created it in Indesign, but have you considered the issue of potential word growth?

With advertising copy, you almost certainly won’t want to compromise on the message you’re trying to deliver.


6. Make sure your original copy is accurate.

A translation is only as good as it’s source: well, sort of!

Errors or ambiguities in the source copy will delay the translation process, but worse than that, can also lead to misinterpretation of your original intention. If the source meaning and intention is not totally clear, the translator’s perfectly written prose could mean something quite different!

Always take some extra time to check your source copy for typos, punctuation, grammar, style and tone, and clarity.

If your text is to be typeset, perhaps for a brochure or leaflet, some agencies can arrange to have this done for you, so avoiding any issues when the text is laid out – this is particularly important in non-Latin documents, such as Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Arabic and Urdu.

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7. Finally, know your target audience.

There are several ways to translate any given paragraph or phrase, and the style and tone a translator uses for your copy will depend in part on what they know about the intended audience.

No doubt you clearly defined the client’s intended audience at the start of the campaign, and this will be reflected in a the tone of your source copy. However, this isn’t necessarily the same tone needed for your target markets abroad, which is where a target persona profile comes in. So, pass that information on to your translation agency to give the translators a fighting chance to recreate copy that oozes authenticity.

Don’t worry though, a good translation agency will choose a native speaking translator from their resource pool based on this target market, as well as the nature of the campaign. Linguists who work in translation not only train as translators, but they also choose at least one specialist field. Whether your client is in sportswear or they manufacture cars, there are translators out there who are passionate about both – and that’s who you want on your team!

Living Word has been working with advertising translation, proofreading, creative translation and foreign language typesetting for businesses in the UK, Europe and around the world, since 2004.