Whether you’re planning on taking over the world and going global with your marketing, or wanting to simply hit a new ‘locale’, making the right impression takes more than just being brand consistent. There are some chunky actions you need to take…
Get thinking area specific
At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, we feel this needs saying: Regardless of whether you’re going to be operating at a regional level, a country level, or an extensive common-language level, catering for cultural differences and population tastes matters. Not being seduced into thinking a single language makes things easier is important, therefore, from the start. True enough, implementing marketing plans in one country does open up options for then extending campaigns to other countries that speak the same lingo, but ‘normal’ marketing rules still apply. A blanket approach to more than one country is unlikely to be as effective as you’d like. Language is one thing, but legal frameworks, financial constraints, and social expectations are another.
Start tackling translation
But if you’ve straightened out your thinking on language, the next thing to tackle is the realities (and potential opportunities) springing from that decision.
Opening up new French markets, for example, could see your business extend its operations in France (obviously), Switzerland, Canada… even Africa (actually particularly Africa). Preparing your brand in another language, therefore, can have considerable reach. But putting aside the significant cultural differences that messages and content need to cater for, understanding the process of effective translation is critical. The ideal position to be in eventually is one where your translators, regardless of whether they’re freelance or through an agency, feel like they’re one of the team. Why’s that? Because you’ll be surprised how quickly you come to rely on them for advice on the country, region, culture, as well as the language!
Kick things off by choosing an agency
When you first dip your toe in the new market’s water, using a translation agency is probably your best bet. Not only will they have the actual language covered, but they’ll have freelancers all over the world who can also cater culturally for what you need.
The downside to this is that unless you make things clear early on, you won’t get the same person for every project, which can lead to inconsistencies in quality, tone and voice. So put your foot down and insist. If the same translators work on your brand each time, their familiarity and interest in it builds, and that in turn will add a richness to communications.
But if that’s not always possible, panic not, there are steps you can take to help mitigate the issues of working with multiple translators:
- Have a very clear style guide, with examples of
past work (good and bad, with comments on why). This information could include:
- Style guide re brand logo usage etc.
- Tone of voice guide
- Glossary of terms
- Be prepared to arm translators with plenty of information about your company, brand, products, target audience, and marketing plans.
- If a potential agency doesn’t ask for this… don’t work with them.
- Only work with agencies who have done some homework before your first meeting; their interest in your brand is paramount.
- Ask for agency recommendations from partner businesses, companies you collaborate with, and any other contacts you have.
- Make sure their translators are clued up in your particular subject matter. Educating them in the nuts and bolts of things need not be your starting point.
- Choose an agency that is close to its freelance translators. This can often mean that big is not better. Small, but perfectly formed may be a more fruitful route.
- Insist on direct access to each translator. Chinese whispers can cost you time, money… and reputation!
And remember… patience is a virtue
Yes, you may have finally got everyone excited about your global expansion plans. And yes, no doubt the board is now chomping at the bit for updates and results. But it’s critical you set realistic deadlines for these new kids on the block. If you push too hard at the beginning, they’ll be forced to skimp on their research and quality will suffer. Instead, take the time to build up a relationship with a translator through meetings, phone calls, video conferencing and suchlike. It really is time well spent. And you can be assured that every minute invested early on in this way will reap rewards on time saved in the future.