How to Translate Your Global Marketing Campaign for Multilingual Countries

You know you need to translate your campaign for other countries, but what happens if those countries happen to be multilingual? You might have the following questions:

  • Do I need to translate in every language that’s spoken in the target market? 
  • What about translating for territories where the same language is spoken in many different variations? 
  • What does it mean to translate or localise for multilingual countries?

Whatever questions you have, we’ve taken the time to explore the challenges associated with working with multiple languages, and created some guidelines so you don’t have to rely on guesswork:

The challenges of working with multiple languages

Translating for multilingual countries can be a real challenge when it comes to global campaigns. If you translate your message poorly in one of the languages, you risk it being culturally irrelevant or politically offensive.

Failure to translate it at all means it won’t even reach your potential customer.

You need to consider two things:

  • How many languages are spoken in your target market? If multiple, which languages are key to reaching your target audience?
  • Which variation of the language is spoken there? There are so many variations that one translation won’t work for everybody. 

Latin America is a good example of a linguistically complex territory. Although around 60% of the population in Latin America speak Spanish – the Spanish they speak is very different from European Spanish. On top of their language having evolved from 16th century colonial Spanish, each Latin American country has adopted different local dialects, as well as rich cultures that influence the languages they speak.

To overcome these challenges, the rule for translating for multilingual countries is the same as any other translation: know your customer base and the language (including any regional variations) and dialect they speak.

We think there’s A Better Way to translate content for multilingual countries — click here to download our guide today.

Aim to create a neutral translation

If you want to reach a wide audience in a country with many regional variations of the same language, it’s paramount that you do your research first.

As an initial step, we recommend briefing an experienced translator (who’s familiar with the local cultures) on the purpose of the copy, and to consult translators from each market to assess whether the localised copy is culturally relevant.

You should aim to produce the most neutral translation possible to ensure it will be understood by the widest population. A global marketing implementation agency like us can advise on the best in-market linguists for the job.

Related Read: Think Like a Translator: How to Implement a Great Global Campaign

Make sure you cover all the main languages

If you’re translating for a multilingual country, rather than a country with many variations of the same language, we recommend producing multiple translations. It’s best to cover both bases in countries like Belgium, for example, where there are large numbers of both Dutch and French speakers.

The same goes for Switzerland, where you have a mix of German, French, and Italian, or in Singapore where there are English, Mandarin, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil speakers.

Adapt your campaign for specific cities

Understanding the language mix in a specific location means you can drill right down to the details and plan campaigns with very specific targets.

By using digital marketing tools, you can adapt campaigns for specific cities. For example, you could target the population with a campaign created in Helsinki that uses Finnish, Swedish, and Russian.

Top tip: Take advantage of online resources to help you understand the local market requirements.

Do your research

India is another strong example of a multilingual country, with a staggering 23 official languages in use and hundreds of variations within these. Not only is the lack of one common language a challenge, there are also linguistic conflicts between communities and territories that you must be aware of before attempting to translation for this country.

Spending time talking with the local marketing team and analysing your audience and market in relation to your product will help you deliver your campaign’s message as intended.

You may find after your research that you need to redirect your campaign — so it’s best to figure this out as early as possible. Your global marketing implementation agency will be able to help you adapt your campaign for multiple target audiences.

Related Read: Better Together: Why Every Creative Team Needs a Marketing Implementation Agency

Be precise about your target market

In the case of a wide market such as Latin America, you’ll need to think carefully about who it is you’re aiming to influence. If your message is only directed to one part of the population, make sure you choose a translator from that particular country. You’ll want someone with specific cultural knowledge as well as writing skills.

In-market linguists’ precision and detailed knowledge of the target market will be key to launching a successful campaign.

6 steps to multilingual campaign success

Translating global marketing campaigns for multilingual countries is no mean feat, but freshly-equipped with the above tips, you’re already well on your way to success. To recap:

  1. Decide who you’re targeting with your translation and research your customers and their needs — thoroughly. 
  2. Analyse the market and identify the languages spoken by your target audience. If applicable, pay close attention to which language is dominant.
  3. Evaluate how to maximise your impact, revenue, and audience reach to keep your costs down.
  4. Prepare a detailed brief for your translators and clearly outline the project’s aim.
  5. Make sure you select relevant and culturally aware linguists.
  6. Call on the expertise of an experienced global marketing implementation agency that’s familiar with multilingual campaigns and can provide advice on how to proceed.


Curious about how to make translations work for global campaigns? Download our free guide, ‘A Better Way’ to find out more today.


Freedman International
Freedman International profile picture

Relevant Articles

global marketing trends 2019

Subscribe to our content

Fill in the form below to join our mailing list to stay up-to-date with all things global marketing, to help your brand thrive, everywhere.

global marketing trends 2019

Subscribe to our content

Fill in the form below to join our mailing list to stay up-to-date with all things global marketing, to help your brand thrive, everywhere.