What type of translation does your project need? | Blog

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Translation, transcreation, copywriting, localisation… All these terms are used to describe language services and can be a little daunting for anyone that hasn’t dealt with localising content before. It’s all quite confusing and you may be wondering why you can’t simply Google translate the content.

Read on, and you might learn something new.

What’s the project?

Okay, the first thing to know is that when it comes to language services, you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Each project is unique, so thefirst step towards getting your translation right is to be clear on what you’re dealing with. Is your project highly technical or specialist? Is it a campaign with a big creative idea that needs to resonate strongly across different markets? Or is it long copy marketing content, such as a brochure or website content?

Once you’ve got a good understanding of the type of content needing translation, you’ll have to identify the translation services better suited for your project. You may need straight translation, transcreation, copywriting – or perhaps a mix of all the above.

Which service is right for your project?

We’ve put together a brief summary of the different language services, along with our recommendation on which approach to use for which type of project:

Translation: We use translation when the primary aim of the source text is to inform, with no creative or emotional dimension to it. It’s not a word-for-word transposition, but the target language text should very closely resemble the meaning and intention of the source language text.

Good for: technical, informational or legal copy dealing with facts

Transcreation: We use transcreation for creative marketing content that aims to convince or provoke an emotion in the target audience. When transcreating into a target language the writer must take the target audience’s cultural and marketing context into consideration.

Good for: advertising and marketing creative copy, headlines, attention grabbers.

Copywriting:  A service used to create copy from scratch based on a creative brief, without any source text, for the purpose of advertising or marketing. The copy is written to persuade a target audience to buy a product or influence their behaviour – meaning the tone and content can differ from one market to another.

Good for: creating strong marketing copy in native language

Localisation: the visual and linguistic adaptation of marketing content into a target language. Localisation considers the marketing content from all angles – language, culture, design and creative – ensuring it looks the part and addresses the audience as it should.

Good for: Marketing content across media

For some projects you may need to combine translation, transcreation, copywriting and localisation to achieve the optimum result.

What writer do I need?

A translator will typically work on longer, less creative copy and will often specialise in a field. Technical materials generally require someone with deep, and current, technical knowledge of the subject matter – their writing style is less critical. It is important to combine human translation with the use of extensive glossaries and translation memories. For highly technical materials or high volumes of copy, machine translation can be used to assist in the translation, which brings the cost down and speeds the process.

For advertising and marketing trancreation you’ll need a strong writer, who can ensure that the translated copy reads as if it was originated in the target language, while conveying the original intention and brand tone of voice.

Copywriters combine a creative mind and in-depth marketing knowledge, to produce copy that delivers a brand message with impact.

Translation is usually charged on a per word basis, while transcreation and copywriting are charged on an hourly or day rate. Costs can vary depending on the language and the linguist chosen, but don’t hesitate to negotiate a little, especially if you’ve got a large volume of content to localise – translators will generally offer volume discounts.

Is Google Translate a good cheap shortcut?

The short answer is no. Google Translate and other online translation tools should be used with great caution if your intention is to get quality copy. They can be useful to get a general meaning for foreign language copy. Do not use for back translations to judge your linguist’s work – it won’t do any justice to your linguist’s talent.

Key points to remember

  • Think about what type of language service you need before you go and get help
  • Use pure translation for technical materials and informative content
  • Transcreation is best for advertising and marketing communications
  • Localisation should be used to adapt marketing content both visually and linguistically
  • Use Google Translate sparingly, with care
  • Combine different approaches for optimal balance of cost and quality

Why not let us handle it for you?

At Freedman we can guide you through all of the pitfalls or do it all for you. Our experts will offer the right solution for you and can be with you throughout the creative process of a marketing campaign to ensure that everything you create will resonate in every language. Our focus is on quality, to ensure that everyone gets the intended message no matter the language, with all the brand and cultural nuances required.

Drop us a line to see how we can alleviate the complexities of translations, or download our Better Way Guide to learn everything you should know before your next global campaign.

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