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Marketing and Localization Teams: Friends or Foes?

comedy/tragedy mask- friend or foeMarketing and Localization 

Localization is a complex process involving many stakeholders in the company: developers, testers, product team, marketing team (often in-country), of course localization and internationalization team, including localization project manager(s), in-house/freelancers and editors etc.

In trying to maintain a single, focused message globally, in-house marketing team often steps in during the process of final quality review, setting up/changing translation of core terminology, and organizing in-country events. Different companies have different models of marketing team involvement. Some, like Adobe, prefer more centralized approach when regional offices have to adhere to general brand guidelines but they can provide feedback on the source and create their own content. In other cases, regional offices cooperate directly with translation and localization vendors.

In fact, working with in-house marketing team could be challenging sometimes. They can, for example, change translation of some terms without coordination with the localization manager, so this leads to inconsistency in terminology which is important for quality localization. In this case, severe discussions may arise between terminologists and in-house marketers. The best way to avoid this is to settle common terminology sheet/database, agree on translation of main terms ideally during the start of localization process, and implement changes simultaneously.

As you can tell, working with marketing team requires a lot of diplomacy and good communication skills. Sometimes they can point out that translation sounds not natural enough for native speakers (or even unacceptable for the target market) and propose more “fluent” variants, which are often inconsistent with other materials, guidelines and terminology. So you have to find common ground with them and work out variants that suit both sides.

There are also cases when, for example, some marketing materials (videos, ads, presentations etc.) were translated by in-house team and sent for review to external/internal translation teams, and editors become furious when see results of work with inconsistent terminology, not grammatically correct phrases, inappropriate use of punctuation…etc. And there can be long battles on the right choice. Again there should be mutual agreement reached between the teams.

Other way to control quality of translations is to involve SME – subject-matter experts. They are often in charge of the final review stage of localization projects, closely working with localization project managers and language leads. SMEs ensure that translations are not only of the highest quality in linguistic terms, but technically and legally accurate. Their main purpose is to review translations, ensuring technical content is translated correctly; terminology is adopted in accordance with glossaries and legacy content. Ideally, SMEs should be based in the country of origin, and in touch with latest trends when it comes to local language.

Besides moderating content on forums with local clients/users and creating local content (copywriting tasks), subject-matter experts can provide quality review, knowledge of appropriate terminology, and updates on legislative developments. Therefore, involving SMEs in translation projects is an important step in ensuring the highest quality translation, especially in highly specialized domains like life science, IT, games, electronics, machinery to name a few.

SMEs not only provide precious feedback to translators and editors, but also can perform industry trainings to improve translations. Yet despite these benefits, you should be aware of some potential pitfalls during the collaboration with SMEs. Since they are more concentrated on the “technical” correctness of translation, they can often ignore consistency, grammar and punctuation rules when rewriting content or making changes in it. By paying more attention to these areas, you can spot and correct potential problems ahead of time.

So working with marketing teams and subject-matter experts is an important step in ensuring the highest quality and correctness of translations both from linguistic and technical sides. But on the other hand, it is like balancing on the rope with continues discussions, feedbacks and changes. You have to be more patient, diplomatic and open to other people suggestions, as well as educate them on common translation and localization processes and best practices. Just remind them that you share the same goal – conveying massage to local users so they can’t even suspect that it was originally created in other language.

Image source: Flickr

Marta Chereshnovska

Written by Marta Chereshnovska

Marta Chereshnovska is a translation and localization specialist (English>Ukrainian, English>Russian). She has seven years of translation, localization, and subtitling experience. She has worked on information technology, telecom, marketing translation, and localization projects (software, hardware, web, mobile, games).