why translation fails
Translating a business strategy into revenue is doubly challenging when facing the barriers of language and culture. When companies notice poor marketing performance in foreign markets, translators are often the first ones to be blamed for it.
However, translation in an international marketing context, no matter how you call it—localisation, marketing translation, cultural and linguistic adaptation, transcreation or anything else—is not only a translator's job.
Translation is a value-creation process and everyone involved in it contributes to, or hinders, its success. Without translator-friendly processes and management practices, translation fails.
Translators know that "Can we get it translated?" is not a strategy for success, but too often those who outsource translation rely on it—because they know too little about translation, have too little time or do not consider the impact poor translation can have on the business.
As a result, translators have to guess what is expected of them by reading it between the lines. It is also hard to be motivated to grow someone's business when your work is paid a few cents per unit of output.
And sometimes translation is expected to achieve what only localisation strategy can. If a business model is incompatible with the local culture or the local industry landscape does not allow to achieve a product-market fit, there is not much translation can do.
why marketing gets lost in translation
Below are some of the reasons for international marketing underperformance that companies I helped had attributed to a lack of experience within their translators' teams.
what to do when translation fails