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It is rare for a business to not need advertising. The few exceptions would be local
monopolies like the corner shop in a remote village.

ADVERTISING TRANSLATION IS A SPECIALISED BUSINESS

“Take it or leave it” might be the
motto! Most businesses cannot rely on word-of-mouth marketing and this is even truer
if the business has its sights on an international market.

Competition is the driver of the search for effective marketing

Advertising material may take the form of traditional adverts in the media, such as on
TV, papers and magazines, flyers, billboards, and increasingly via social media and the
business’s own website. If it wasn’t for the inconvenience of competition, advertising
would be a lot simpler. A business could provide useful, truthful information about its
products or services and what they might cost and leave it to customers to ask
questions or make purchases. However, life tends to be more complicated than that.
Competition means that there is a lot of investment in clever marketing to make a
business’s products and services more appealing than its competitors. Most marketing
emphasizes the strengths of what is being advertised and not the weaknesses.

What is localization?

The other challenge for businesses marketing their products to an ethnically or
the linguistically diverse market is that their marketing material needs to be translated into
the language of potential customers and translated sensitively so that the content does
not offend cultural, religious, or legal peculiarities.
This type of translation is generally referred to as ‘localization’. It is a step further than
normal translation as the translator must be very familiar with the social and cultural
norms of the intended market in addition to being a first-rate translator.
To give an example of the subtle but real difference between translation alone and
localization is a comparison between translating instructions for using a new electronic
device and translating just how good the device is to those who have yet to decide which device to buy. The former doesn’t need localization skills as
such, although in the case of a difference in units (e.g. mm, inches, o C, o F, etc.) the
translator must be aware of this. However, marketing the device may very well need
sensitive localization. The very name of the device may need to be changed to suit
different markets. A name for the device in English, for instance, maybe profanity or
just plain absurd in another language. Things like colors may have cultural
significance. If people are used in the marketing, what they wear could be significant.
Dialects, colloquial phrases, and idioms are all part of normal marketing and need to be
adjusted to the market for which the sales are intended to be pitched.
This might seem that it is not entirely the translator’s job. That would be correct – that’s
why it is the job of a translator who offers localization services as well as translation.
They may not design the images, colors, and video excerpts in a website for example,
but because of their localization skills can provide advice on how these should be
amended to suit a market for which they are translating the text of the business’s
marketing material.

Summary

Marketing products or services to a traditional market involves skills that concentrate
on promoting the products or services over those of competitors. Effective marketing is
necessary whenever there is effective competition. When the products and services
are t be marketed to a linguistically diverse market, translation skills are essential.
The marketing material must be translated into the commonly used languages of the
new markets. Localization is an added dimension to translation as it adjusts the text and
often things like colors, images, clothing, and slogans to suit the legal, social, cultural,
religious preferences of the target market.