The Global Summer Series held in Barcelona was hosted by TransPerfect and featured the Chief Marketing Officers and Translation departments of some of the biggest corporations in the world; Shell Oil, Wrangler Jeans, Harman (SamSung), Dometic, to name only a few.
The focus is internationalisation of companies, and this is an area that is incredibly important, yet many companies are not paying any attention to the fact that users can now buy products from around the world, and a presence in different countries is easily attainable with a bit of lateral thinking.
How do you produce content for users in Malaysia who speak Bahasa Malaysia as a first language? You can’t simply copy and paste a Google Translated blog post, as this is unreadable by local people, and even if it’s good enough, is there a risk that you will offend your clients with content that is not suitable for Muslim countries?
What we learned
The main focus of this conference was to highlight the strategies implemented at large corporations to streamline and automate translations in the digital sector. By automate, we are not talking about machine translation.
Fundamental to everything these companies do is to synchronise messages across the territories in which they operate, and machine translation is not yet of sufficient quality to do this, later in this article we will look at why. We at x-port love marketing, we love writing, and we love results.
Many people do not pay attention to marketing and see it only as an expenditure, so it’s great to mix with large companies that pay immaculate detail to their marketing messages and their brand, to build content that is engaging, drives traffic and increases sales is fundamentally what we are about, and to see this at a high level was fantastic, absolutely fantastic!
Global marketing projects
The levels of effort involved, moving entire marketing departments to new systems, and placing new focus on brand and voice to deliver the company message and key value propositions is simply immense.
The implementation of new technologies, allowing for clearer consultation is clearly a core business strategy of TransPerfect. Their business is to give companies the tools they need to sell their products across regions, varying from on-page direct translation to backend databases, with translation memory built-in, TransPerfect are offering new ideas and solutions that aren’t on most companies’ radars, yet.
The statistics provided by the presenters showed the increase in marketing consumption by media, and the increase in sales through online and ecommerce platforms. That packaging and shipping of products now takes place across borders, opens up huge potential for product developers and business strategists; the flipside is that websites must be translated into an average of 14 languages.
How is it done?
The two new acronyms we really took from this weekend are PIM (Product Information Management) and DAM (Data Asset Management).
These are software systems that organise content and work as a repository for the inventories of e-commerce websites. The implementation of these systems by companies such as Dometic and Harmann was amazing.
The clever people in charge of these projects did incredible work harmonise all of the information in the website and make sure that anybody who makes any changes to the website, can only make those changes to the information stored in the PIM and the DAM.
Why is this a good thing?
Because now, value position, brand voice, images, logos, icons, fonts, basically everything that PR, marketing and design do, is double locked against renegade workers or third party providers who may break away from brand guidelines.
Why were we happy to see this?
The information we took away from the event was exactly what we feel is important for our own clients and the services provided by X-port; that brand is key to growth.
If you have logos of many different colours, if your brand lacks a consistent voice, if you use different fonts across all of your materials, the recognition in the minds of your potential buyers will suffer. Check out the Dometic website if you want to see how a company can implement a brand strategy across the world and make it harmonious, this to us is the pinnacle of modern digital marketing. A huge amount of effort, done right.
Rainbows and lobsters
Dinner following the first day was held in the Agua restaurant in the port of Barcelona and it was great to chat to reps from Transperfect, as well as technology consultors from Finland, fashion designers from Italy, and engineers from the UK. It rained pretty hard and we were rewarded with a double rainbow to finish an excellent day.
Brand voice across language and culture
The second day was free so the attendance was much higher. Gautier Robial from Wrangler did a great presentation on how to use the Old School to be cool in your branding. It was really interesting to see how Wrangler have shifted their brand by using images from the 1970s and recreate them with current day trends for the modern wearer.
But most of all, and from our point of view,
We were most impressed to see how Gautier managed the brand voice across languages and culture. This is an important consideration. The USA team felt that a campaign mustn’t be seen as “too young”, they felt that in the mind of their buyer in the USA, Wrangler is a traditional brand, that conveys trust, tradition…and basically cowboys. But the European mindset does not contain these semantics, apart from western films that made it across the ocean.
The solution was to create landing pages with locations to be clicked on. This, from X-port’s point of view is an inconsistent solution. It is true that brand voice has to be different, but this then spreads down into colour and image, and the extra click to go to the right campaign is off-putting for the user. Implementing a redirect according to the country of the IP address, crossed with the browser language would be more efficient, better for the user, and keep the differences separate.
Having said that, Gautier Robial is not a programmer, he is an avant-garde brand marketeer, pure and simple; his style is cool, he understands marketing better than anybody I have ever seen at these conferences, and for his age, his management of the EMEA team and the Wrangler brand looks fantastic.
But the point remains. How do you translate your marketing messages? It is not sufficient to simply take a sentence and translate it. Because phrases like “Just do it”, translated into “solo hazlo” do not work, messages like this are fundamental to inspiration, to the brand and to the buyer.
Consistency has to be delivered across a company, and talented people need to be involved in translation. Machine translation is not, and will never be able to pick up the minute and subtle nuances of culture. And sub-standard human translation will translate messages into a language, but will not hit the same notes as the original message.
There are so many things to consider in translation, culture, latest news, taboos, false-friends, and all of the things that can mean the difference between engaging a user with great content, or losing a user because they were offended by a phrase that was incorrectly translated.
Overall, the conference was great success. It was great to learn from people who have years of experience in marketing across territories. The ideas that these companies have implemented through their need for consistency can be implemented for small to medium businesses as well.
Technology now allows us to keep our marketing assets in one place, making sure that translations can be memorised (for example the word “marca” is always translated as “brand” and never as “trademark”). It is these fine details that make the difference between a successful global marketing strategy, and it is this strategy that makes life easier for your sales teams and ultimately for your business.