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International copywriting: write for the World

International copywriting: write for the World

So you’ve received your copy back from your professional translation services supplier and had it checked by an agent and it comes back with red marks and a big thumbs down. D’oh, what happened there then?

Working on the assumption that the translation agency employed a qualified translator who ticked all the boxes, there are several explanations which could explain the red marks not that it was a duff translation.

Copy writing is an art. Translation is likewise. But the right steps need to be installed to bridge the arts.

We often write just (normally unwittingly) with our UK heads on. We then translate. The translation reflects the original. To the target audience the translation then may come across as wooden. Wooden not in the sense of bad grammar or typo’s but wooden as in not reaching them in a style which best serves them.

So what went wrong? Translation is in fact the first step. Think of it this way, how many approvals did the English go through before being finalised? At least two maybe three, four or even five. Why? Getting the words right to make sure they speak to the customer whilst carrying the brand.

That’s quite a bit to load onto a translator with the remit to translate and expect them to get it right first time.

The translator who maybe well versed in everything to do with your industry but to take a text so it speaks not just internationally but also reaches those key clients on a local basis requires revision, localisation services, proofreading and in the cases of web site translations: SEO content writing and a few extra steps.

Good content writing applies to the translation just as much as it does to the original. Translations need to be worked up, played with, customised, polished, keywords researched and adapted not just translated before everything is ready to launch.

Getting to the point where all sides are happy and can deliver not just to expectation but also provide added value, starts with a clear brief. The agency can help you devise and plan one or you can come ready armed with all the things you want your translations to do for you.

Once the brief is agreed, then the right levels of service can be applied and a quality model produced, with timings, schedules and budgets built-in. Our advice: make your translation agency part of your marketing team. You’ll be surprised just how much more you can get and kiss goodbye to red marks and big thumbs down.

Darren Elliott