“I have bumble bees in my butt”, I once told a friend. He couldn’t stop laughing. Apparently, unlike Germans, the English don’t get bitten by bumble bees when they feel restless – they have ants in their pants. Both seems equally uncomfortable. But knowing these little nuances of languages is the first step to really understanding a different culture.
A good marketing translation requires thorough knowledge of your target culture. It means that sometimes not only the sales text needs to be localised, but also the brand’s visual language. Can you imagine why the following German Waldbusch advert “2 Hemden zum Preis von 1” (buy 1 shirt, get one free) could be offensive to a British audience?
Example of good transcreation
If you are launching your product or services into foreign realms for the first time, you should make sure your message sounds natural and professional in your target language. This is where creative translation or transcreation comes in. It means not literally translating a sentence or marketing message, but to use the carefully crafted original text as a point of reference in order to create equally enchanting foreign copy. A good example of a well-transcreated brand message is Haribo’s German tagline “Haribo macht Kinder froh und Erwachsene ebenso”. Literally translated it reads “Haribo makes children happy, and adults as well” – not very catchy in English. So instead the marketing team came up with “Happy world of Haribo”, which rhymes perfectly with “Kids and adults love it so” and has become just as widely known abroad as the original at home.
First impressions count
To get your marketing translation right from the start is crucial. It sets the tone of your entire international campaign and gives a first impression of your company to customers abroad. High quality copy will resonate with the target audience, whereas poorly translated sales text will fail to build trust in your brand. Ideally, your marketing copy should not only be translated in a clever and catchy way, it should also take into consideration the cultural context and language connotations of both your own and your target language and culture.
Vorsprung durch Technik
The German car industry provides us with prime examples of how culturally loaded language is – and how this can be fully exploited when taking your brand abroad. Both Audi and Volkswagen decided to keep their German slogans “Vorsprung durch Technik” and “Das Auto” in its original language. This is a marketing stroke of genius. The German slogans not only carry their brand across borders, they’re using the language as a signifier to export cultural connotations, or in other words, all those attributes Germans are known for: High quality, innovative engineering and reliability. When it comes to technology, “Made in Germany” is a quality seal that people trust in.
In some circumstances keeping parts of your marketing message in its original language can be just as important as an inventive and high quality transcreation of other parts of your sales copy. Would you like your marketing message to be on everyone’s lips soon – at home and abroad? Get in touch and learn more about our creative translation services.