Localized Marketing – Why Translation Isn’t Enough

In two earlier posts (here and here), I discussed the growing importance of localized marketing, and I described how technology enables and supports localized marketing efforts. In a recent survey by the CMO Council, 86% of respondents said they intend to look for ways to better localize their marketing content.

Global enterprises face several complex challenges in delivering relevant, localized marketing content. The most obvious challenge is the need to deliver marketing messages and materials in the primary language of the target audience. According to Ethnologue, there are 6,909 known living languages in the world today. While no company may need to communicate in every known language, it’s very conceivable that a global enterprise will be required to create and manage a few dozen versions of many marketing content resources.

Beyond the language challenge, global marketers must also develop marketing content for multiple ethnic and cultural environments.

Global enterprises can address content localization challenges in a variety of ways. At one end of the spectrum, a company can simply translate its marketing content resources from the original source language to the primary languages of the target audiences. With basic translation, the objective is to remain faithful to the text of the original document, while taking into account the vocabulary, grammar, and local usage of the target audience. Basic translation does not typically adapt marketing content to reflect cultural differences that are not language related.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a company can develop separate marketing strategies and unique marketing content for all significant markets. With this approach, the brand promise, value propositions, and creative motif are developed ‘from the ground up’ for each market.

Between these two ‘extremes’, is an approach that is typically called transcreation. Transcreation is still a relatively new term, but it is generally defined as the process of adapting marketing content from one language and culture to another. With transcreation, the idea is to maintain the intent and objective of the original content asset without requiring the local version to be completely faithful to the words and images used in the original.

Transcreation, therefore, balances the need for brand consistency with the need to tailor marketing content for local audiences.

Technology plays an important role in content localization. Whatever approach to localization is used, there are two inevitable results.

  • The number of marketing assets that must be created and managed grows dramatically.
  • The processes and workflows required to develop and approve marketing assets become more complex.

A robust digital asset management system that includes strong business process automation capabilities can enable global enterprises to effectively and efficiently address the complexities of localized marketing.

This post was previously published on the ADAM Software blog.


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Author:Jan Dejosse

CMO - ADAM Software

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