Connecting Authentically with Multilingual Audiences

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One in five US residents speaks a language other than English at home, and just a quarter of internet users across the globe are native speakers of English. According to the American Marketing Association, organizations that limit their marketing strategies to one language are missing out on a significant opportunity to connect with and engage potential customers. As a brand, you need to navigate the cultural and linguistic nuances of your multilingual audience, and luckily, we’re here to help you do so!

The American Marketing Association recently came to Multilingual Connections for insight to share with brands looking to connect authentically with their multilingual audiences. In the interview with AMA, Dr. Jill Kushner Bishop, Founder and CEO of Multilingual Connections, emphasizes the importance of transcreation when localizing your marketing campaigns.

Here are some highlights from their conversation:

Dr. Jill Kushner Bishop, Founder and CEO of Multilingual Connections
Dr. Jill Kushner Bishop, Founder and CEO of Multilingual Connections

1. Transcreation of Content

When marketing your message across cultures, a direct translation from one language to another isn’t enough. You must go beyond words and work to convey the original intention and feeling of your message in order for people to engage with your brand’s message. Transcreation is the process of adapting and re-writing a brand message from one language to another while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context of the source text.

“If you’re a marketer, you don’t want to lose the relevance or immediacy of something just by going with a translation where people will understand the words but not the feeling,” Dr. Bishop says. She offers sports metaphors as an example of a language device that can easily become lost in a direct translation: They’re prevalent in the English language, but for an audience that doesn’t play baseball, expressions like “out of left field”, “off base” or “three strikes” are meaningless – and therefore a direct translation is not the right approach. Sometimes expressions like these are so embedded in a culture that it’s not always obvious what their origin is, and that’s why it’s essential that you have a cultural insider working on your copy to ensure that your message will resonate with your audience. 

2. Focus on Regions and Dialects

In translating content, marketers should also give thought to the nuances of the language across different regions and dialects, even if they are a part of the same parent language. For example, if your target market is Spain, your content will likely be different than if your target market were Mexico or Argentina. But even within a country, you have to think about who your audience is. As Bishop says, “If you’re [writing] something that’s very slang-heavy – where you’re trying to reach out to young people or a particular subsection of the community – you’re going to want to understand the way they talk among themselves and make sure you’re connecting with that.”

3. Invest in Authentic Connections

Another piece of advice from Dr. Bishop centers around the investment in resources and tools to support your multilingual marketing efforts. If you’re looking to launch a global campaign, Bishop recommends setting aside the time and budget to do it right. 

“If you really want to connect with [a multilingual audience], you have to build a relationship,” Bishop says. “You must spend the time and the money to do that. When companies just put up a Google-translated version of their website, it’s as if they’re telling customers, ‘We care about you and we want your business, but not enough to really invest.’”

Getting a multilingual campaign right might take time, and marketers must be prepared to seek feedback and be open to employing new strategies. “It’s important to educate our clients and it sometimes must be through error,” Bishop says. “They go out and they don’t do it right the first time, and that’s when they understand the value of spending time and money, talking to experts and using the approaches they would in English within those other languages.”

By translating your marketing campaigns to the language of your audience, you build trust, credibility, and connections – and you demonstrate to consumers that you’re a brand worth investing in. Multilingual Connections can help you create connections that matter to you and your audience, no matter the language.

Read the full Marketing News post on the American Marketing Association website and connect with us to discuss your next marketing translation project! 

Want to see more like this?

We periodically share news and updates about language and our business. We’ll never share your contact information with anyone.