Transcreation: Why people win over machines.

Automated translation

The growing prevalence of technology has been the biggest driving force for brands to go global, enabling brands to share their messaging worldwide. For consumers, automated translation also allows them to discover brands from anywhere in the world. We have seen significant developments in consumer-facing automated translation (such as Google Translate), and the insurgence of mobile and browser technologies that automatically translate foreign language web or social media pages. As a result, it has become easier than ever for consumers to seek out brands across markets.

In recent years, smarter AI-powered tools have given rise to the wider use of automated translation. These no longer exist existing just for personal use, they can now offer a fast, cheap option for businesses seeking to go global.

Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is a form of AI-based translation that uses neural network models to learn a statistical model that allows one single system to be trained to map input to output text. To put it simply – NMT is touted as an end-to-end means of translation that works for businesses.

Yet despite significant technological process development in the translation sector, marketers should not be rushing to switch out their human translators for technology. Language is a highly emotive, personal aspect of a brand, and the importance of hitting the right tone in your local marketing efforts can never be underestimated. Here’s why people still win over machines, every time:

Understanding of cultural nuance

Even the most advanced AI and machine-powered translators are yet to fully comprehend the full impact of cultural sensitivities in language. Language is a subjective medium, and a single word can have vastly different meanings across cultures. Words of course need to make grammatical sense, but also need to hit the right note within the market in which they are being distributed.

Nuance is an aspect of the global marketing process that cannot yet be taught to machines. In-market, native language speakers have a natural and practiced knack for dissecting the essence of a message, rather than simply the words alone. Machines may work for communicating the gist of a message or a literal word-for-word translation. However, a human touch is required to help build deep, lasting connections that will allow brand messages to resonate across markets.

Considered brand guardianship

Brands seeking automated translation solutions are often seeking both speed and cost-efficiencies. Yet, we have often seen even the world’s largest brands make spectacular cross-market blunders. The short-term benefit of a ‘quick and cheap’ solution can so easily become unravelled when something goes wrong, leading to long term repercussions for brand equity.

Instead, businesses must protect the integrity of their brand by enlisting the services of a true transcreation or localisation partner. A trusted brand guardian will be able to digest brand guidelines to truly understand a brand’s essence, and replicate this across languages and markets. After all, a brand is so much more than a logo, colour or font.

The language and tone that is used in a brand’s messaging plays a major role in building brand affinity. This unique tone of voice is another aspect that technology will forever struggle to replace when translating across languages.

Transcreation over translation

All global brands need to be aware that even when words translate, imagery or other campaign themes can’t always be seamlessly deployed across markets without running into issues. Rather than executing first, translating later, global brands should instead create marketing campaigns with transcreation and localisation in mind. Enlisting the help of a cultural consultant or an agency offering transcreation services early in the process will help brands take their global marketing further.

Marketers who are concerned about cost efficiencies and ROI must weigh up the short-term cost of a ‘cheap and cheerful’ solution vs. the impact on their long-term brand equity. As AI technology continues to advance, machines may be able to create a word-for-word translation of any given sentence with increasing accuracy. However, it takes the work of a trained transcreation expert to ensure your brand will be able to stand out globally.

At Tag, we work with brand marketers to ensure marketing messages resonate around the world. With our global team of translators, transcreators and cultural consultants, we help our clients reach multiple markets at scale, across regions and cultures. As trusted guardians of your brand, we protect your identity and integrity throughout the marketing mix.