How To Translate Marketing Content

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Written by: pTranslate Contributors


Marketing content is unlike any other type of translation. Advertising and marketing materials contain a lot of cultural and linguistic nuances, and it is incredibly difficult to keep these nuances intact in the translation process. That is why people are afraid that their messages are “lost in translation”.

When a part of a message is lost in translation, it won’t be as powerful as the original. Copywriters have spent a lot of time and effort into writing the marketing content, and it’s up to the translator to preserve the essence of that copy. Companies who care about their brand message and brand voice will invest into high-quality marketing translation services to ensure that they get their message across all languages and regions.

Good marketing translators can also recognize inappropriate wordings and cultural/religious offenses in the translation and get rid of all of them or make changes if necessary to ensure that the ideas being communicated will be well-received.

pTranslate, being an experienced marketing translation agency, understands the challenges of marketing translation. In this article, we will provide businesses and marketers with a thorough guide on how to translate marketing content.

how to translate marketing content

Factors to Consider when Doing Marketing Translation

Marketing Translation is all about the “right” choice of words. Although translators aren’t allow to make drastic changes to the original text, they still have control over what words and/or sentence structures they can use to keep the brand voice intact. 

Some of the linguistic and non-linguistic factors that Marketing translators take into account when doing Marketing translation include:

1. Brand Voice

We want to keep the voice of the writing consistent across all languages. Although the concept of “voice” in a writing is intangible and somewhat abstract, it is its essence. Changing the voice can ruin the entire marketing copy. 

Marketing documents for different brands and industries can have different voices: 

  • A marketing copy for Luxury Cars sounds raw, powerful, magnetic. It has the “boss” voice.
  • A marketing copy for Skin Care products sounds playful, fresh, clean, and graceful. It has the “beauty” voice.
  • A marketing copy for children toys sounds innocent and playful. Short sentences and simple language are preferred.
  • A marketing copy for the elder sounds uplifting and relaxed. 

Brands that differentiate themselves from the competitors through their brand image also want to keep the brand voice that they have developed intact. For the same product, one brand can have a motivating, uplifting, encouraging voice, while the other can have a humorous, friendly voice. 

2. Cultural Factors

Culture is not universal. Cultural differences can cause a lot of problems, misunderstanding, confusion, and even offenses in the audience and customers. Translating culture is complex because culture is a very broad concept. There are a lot of aspects to take into consideration:

  • Idiomatic Expressions

Idiomatic expressions reflect culture. Different regions with different cultures have different idioms. Idiom is extremely complex and have lots of nuances, and it can be challenging to find an exact translation for any particular idiom from one language to another. 

  • Dialects and language variants

When adapting Marketing content to countries with more than one official language, translators need to be aware of the complexity of the languages the region use. For example, in Canada, people use both English and French, and the type of French that Canadians use is different from the type of French that native French people use.

Similarly, Chinese is a complex language in the Marketing translation world. Mainland China uses Simplified Chinese, an easier and simpler version of Traditional Chinese. When expanding your business to Mainland China and advertising your marketing content to Chinese people, you need to use Simplified Chinese. However, if you want to market your products/services to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, or other Chinese communities outside of Mainland China, you need to use Traditional Chinese.

Read more: Differences between Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese

India is the same. India doesn’t have an official language. Hindi is the most common, but English is also very popular. Other language variants include Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Urdu, and many more. It’s clear that things get complicated for Marketing translators very fast.

  • Slang

In official documents, slang is not common. However, in Marketing translation, slang can be very common, especially in Marketing documents for niche products. Slang connects users with brands on a much stronger level. Slang is also a great way to connect with a generation or a demographic. If a brand’s customer base is dominated by a specific demographic, incorporating slang popular in that demographic will bring the brand closer to the customers. 

It takes real experience with the field and industry to know the slang, and it takes even more experience to know the equivalent of the slang in the target language. 

  • Customs and Taboos

All cultures have their own unique sets of customs and taboos. It is important for Marketing translators to understand these customs and taboos in the country of the source language and the country of the target language. They need to know what is acceptable and what isn’t for their customers. After that, they need to recognize those cultural nuances in the text and make changes where necessary. 

For example, in Japan and China, the number “4” is considered unlucky, similar to the number “13” in many Western countries. Similarly, in Middle Eastern countries, images displaying uncovered arms and legs are considered offensive. There are also other cultural factors in the form of numbers, colors, symbols, and the translators have to change, edit, or remove those entirely, if the client allows.

How to Translate Marketing Content

To properly translate a Marketing document, the translator must plan out all of the cultural aspects they need to consider in the process before getting down to work. There will be a lot of things to do. Taking a methodical approach to Marketing translation helps immensely, as the translator can have a better idea of what they should do and how they go about doing it.

There are 6 steps to take when performing Marketing translation:

1. Briefing

2. Document Analysis

3. Culture Analysis

4. Translation

5. Transcreation

6. Review and Revision

1. Briefing - All Marketing translation projects should start with a brief

A detailed, well-written brief lays the foundation for the translation project and guides the translator in the right direction. Translators love clients who know what they want. It’s better to be clear and direct with the requirements for your marketing translation projects.

What should you – the client – include in the translation brief?

The answer is exactly what you envision your translation turns out to be. The translator will try their best to meet your expectations. Some of the things that you should include in your brief are:

– Voice (humorous, formal, serious)
– Style guide
– Cultural notes
– Language notes
– Other requirements

2. Document Analysis

After taking on the project, the translator needs to perform a quick scan to understand the main ideas in the document.

This step is important, because it allows the translator to develop a direction for the project. Some translators prefer to analyze the document as they translate, and do not perform pre-translation analysis. However, having had years of experience in Marketing translation, we believe that pre-translation document analysis is a good approach, because Marketing copies tend to have a consistent voice, and a quick read will give the translator a better “feel” of the voice. While skimming through the document, the translator is actually brainstorming the vocabulary that will later be used in the translation.

3. Cultural Analysis

Once they understand the source material, they need to envision the end result: the translation intended for the targeted country/region/demographic. The Marketing translator will compare the differences and gaps between the culture of the source country and the target country, and note down the parts that require adjustment in the source document.

As we have mentioned earlier, cultural factors that Marketing translators take into consideration include:

– Language Variants and Dialects
– Idioms
– Slang
– Customs and Taboos
– Symbols
– Imagery and Color

Once everything is envisioned, the translator can start what they love to do the most: translation.

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4. Translation

While translating, the translator can leverage the power of modern technology to improve translation quality.

  • Dictionary: a dictionary is a must for any translator. There are a lot of dictionaries too. There are dictionaries solely for idioms, phrasal verbs, and even slang. 
  • Google: Google is a translator’s best friend. In a lot of cases, the translator can simply do a quick Google search to find out the information that they need to complete their translation. For specialist translators, Google is a wonderful tool to keep themselves updated on the industry’s latest news. 
  • Translators’ Forums: This is where translators gather. Google is not the best assistant when it comes to translating difficult words. Translators can find fellow translators on translators forums and ask them for help on the tricky words they need to translate
  • Translation memory: Translation memory is a technology that helps translators greatly in their translation process. Translation Memory stores frequently encountered words and make suggestions for those words. Translators can choose to use the suggestions, or translate the word on their own. Thanks to Translation Memory, translators can speed up their translation process and improve consistency. For brands with a brand voice, Translation Memory can help them keep the brand voice across all languages, which is powerful from the Marketing perspective.

5. Transcreation

Sometimes, translation is not enough. We need transcreation. Transcreation is much more complicated, challenging, but also more mentally stimulating and creative than translation. Simply put, transcreation is when “translation” and “creation” meets. The transcreator will use the source material only as a reference point to create an entirely new document in the target language.

Transcreation is usually only done on request of the client. It allows the translator to break the limitations that translation puts on them and brings them the freedom to create something truly unique and original.

For more information on transcreation, read our guide on transcreation here.

6. Review and Revision

The hardest part of this entire process is done. The client receives the final file. They can review the end result and provide any feedbacks if needed.

If the target language is not the client’s native language, they can request a back translation to help them understand the translated version better. For example, a client orders a translation for a marketing copy from English to Swedish, but has absolutely no knowledge of Swedish, they can request a “reverse” translation of the final file from Swedish to English. This is particularly common in Marketing translation, where the translated content may have meaning that strayed away from the original.


Marketing Translation is a fascinating branch of Translation. There is a lot of analysis that goes into Marketing Translation, and the translator must not only have good linguistic proficiency but also native-level cultural sensitivity to handle Marketing Translation tasks.

Do you have anything to ask, or share about Marketing Translation? Feel free to comment down below. We are eager to hear your thoughts!

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