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Marketing and PR

“If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen


So said Willy Brandt, former Chancellor of Germany, highlighting the importance of speaking directly to your target audience. And how right he was!


Ensuring that your marketing message is right and that it sounds good in another language is key to being able to sell your products and services successfully abroad.

In some sectors and for certain products, such as medical devices, all packaging and user information should be translated as a matter of health and safety, and to comply with the law.

Avoid the pitfalls

It is vital that the marketing materials, packaging and instructions for use are produced professionally in the target language. This shows respect for your target market and shows that you are serious about doing business there.

After all, it is your reputation as a company that is on the line. You can use machine translation if you wish, but it will be very obvious to your intended audience what it is (never mind some of the awful and potentially embarrassing mistakes it may contain).

What’s more, it will show that you aren’t prepared to invest in doing business in their market. That will send out all the wrong signals.

No go

No-one wants to make the sort of mistakes that various car companies have made over the years.

A classic example was General Motors, who tried to sell the “Chevy Nova” model in Spanish-speaking countries. In Spanish “Nova” means “It doesn’t go” and nobody wants to buy a car with that sort of name. Once General Motors renamed the model to the Caribe, sales really took off.


In many cases, you can’t just take a marketing concept in one language and simply translate it into another. The concept may have no meaning in another country, or may prove to be an embarrassment for your organisation.

The aim of transcreation is to take your core message and recreate it so that it is meaningful and culturally appropriate in another language, whilst staying true to your company’s style guidelines.

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Hints & Tips

Ensure that any advertising and marketing materials are not only translated by professional translators, but are also looked at from the cultural perspective of the target market. This way, you will avoid embarrassing and costly mistakes.


It is also important to look at any images that you wish to use. In many Middle Eastern countries, it is not acceptable to use images of women in advertising.

In China, red is a very lucky colour and it symbolises good fortune and happiness, so this is a good colour to use. White, on the other hand, symbolises mourning. In much of the Western world, white is associated with purity.

Target audience

It is really important to consider your target audience and to pitch the language accordingly:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • What sort of tone and style do you want?
  • Is this acceptable to your target audience?
  • Have you researched competitors’ advertising to see how they are phrasing things?


Hints & Tips

It is important to set the tone and style before you start. In some languages, for example, you can use the informal “you”, whereas in others, this would never be done in advertising and marketing materials.


We can handle a wide variety of formats, including Adobe InDesign, Quark XPress, Adobe Illustrator, InPage, PageMaker, Flash and Freehand, on both Mac and PC platforms. To find out more about our DTP services, please take a look at our typesetting services page.