To translate its slogan "I'm lovin' it," McDonald's had either to translate the phrase literally, leave it in English, or adapt it to local cultures. Finally, the company decided that each country would deal with the slogan in its own way. In French, the slogan was rendered 'c'est tout ce que j'aime', when translated roughly means “That is all I like." This expression is more culturally appropriate for food, as opposed to “j'adore."
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This example shows that the art of marketing translation is the ability to render not only the idea behind the words, but also to keep it as persuasive and attractive as in the original language. And this ability was given a name: transcreation. Often, it is not just a text. It also includes claims and slogans.
In the specialized field of marketing, a claim is a promise about the attributes of a product or a service that are offered to an audience through marketing channels; whereas a slogan is a motto, a distinctive advertising phrase, to convey a purpose or an ideal. So it is important to be a professional of marketing before being a marketing translator because it requires linguistic skills as well as non-linguistic skills.
We will take note of the word audience, which is a central word for transcreation since it implies taking into account the culture and the environment in the target language. Here are some tips and tricks for beautiful and professional transcreation.
1. Awareness: carefully analyze the original text to understand its purposes. The main concern is to make sure the target text fulfills the purpose for which it is intended. So before the translation begins, the source text has to be reviewed to see if the literal ideas and the metaphors will be acceptable in the target language and for the audience targeted.
2. Persuasiveness: your style and tone should be chosen in order to lure the targeted audience into the desired course of action. Be sure to adapt the ideas and metaphors to accommodate the targeted audience values. Here the translator has to do a little of localization by, for example, having a native professional of the industry review his message.
3. Originality: also the end result of the two first tips, is the ability to produce genuine texts that cleverly mix both the language and the visual cues in the target language and still respect the original text concept (phonetic appeal, association with historical figures and legends). It has to follow the local regulations. The translator has to know how to correctly assess both the medium and the channel used for the promotion (press, posters, leaflets, radio, television, Internet, etc.)
• Space limitation: limited space on the packaging or the instructions sheets needs to be accommodated. The use of universal symbols like ISO symbols can help save a lot of space.
• Slogans: very hard to fit all markets. They require a lot of time for localization (see introductory example). They also need good cooperation with the outsourcer; providing multiple versions may help.
• Allow enough time: marketing translation requires enough time and revisions to produce the right translated message. It is not advisable to split the work among multiple translators to preserve style consistency.
Indeed, such a creative work has to merit its value. That is why marketing translation is more costly than plain translation or even technical translation. Its rate is about U.S. $15 - 25 cents per word, but the translator is free to negotiate depending on the complexity or the degree of localization required.
Some tools that may help
The series ‘Translation practices explained’, Ira Torresi, St. Jerome Publishing, 2010.