How to Write for a Global Audience and Not Lose Your Message in Translation

As you plan your external and internal communication strategies, it pays to keep international business audiences in mind. If you write from a place of knowing that your audience will be diverse, you can keep your corporate communications messages in line with a wide variety of regions. Tips for doing so tend to be quite easy to keep in mind, from avoiding local references to writing in ways that include an awareness of multiple and diverse traditions. Writing this way will help engage your international audience and keep messages easier for business translation services like Offshoreally to handle, which can mean a faster and smoother business translation turnaround.

Watch Figurative Language in Corporate Communications

One of the easiest ways to make sure business translation goes smoothly when you write for a global audience is to avoid culturally specific, figurative language. One of the most common examples of this is the use of idioms. Idioms are expressions that have a meaning that isn’t immediately apparent from the individual words. Examples include “when pigs fly” and “raining cats and dogs.” Since the phrases are nonsensical outside of their context, they can be impossible to translate for global audiences.

The world is full of idioms that can’t be literally translated. An interesting idiom in Tamil translates as, “Showing water to someone.” It means becoming someone’s enemy. Good luck guessing that from the line itself. It’s best to avoid idioms entirely if you don’t want your message to get lost during the business translation process.

You might also want to keep language more straightforward. The more linguistically creative a message gets, the tougher it is to translate. Excessive use of metaphor, simile and wordplay could be difficult to make sense of in another language. For instance, much wordplay relies on terms sounding the same, but the rules change when you move to another language.

Avoid Local References in Corporate Communications

Another feature that is common in corporate communications and marketing is tying content into the local culture in order to appeal to a certain demographic. However, if you have a global audience, that can lead to confusion. One example might be if you use a famous spokesperson from a local sports team. The minute you leave that region, few people might know who that athlete is. This is especially true in regions that tend to watch different sporting events entirely.

Keep Diversity in Mind to Make Business Translation Easier

When you write for a global audience, you’re writing to people from a wide variety of different cultural backgrounds. Consider the example of holiday celebrations. In India and China, Christmas is a much smaller festival. In Japan, Christmas Eve is often celebrated as more of a dating holiday, like Valentine’s Day in the West. As such, it has been a common trend to say a more generic “happy holidays” in corporate communications settings. This is even more important if you plan on using business translation services to extend your message to as many global demographics as possible.

It’s also important to understand the different traditions in other countries, so that your internal communication doesn’t accidentally come off as offensive or out of touch with the local culture. One example is that many Asian countries often use red envelopes to give money, especially as part of New Year celebrations. A Western company operating in an Asian region might make the mistake of giving out holiday cards in festive red envelopes, disappointing all those who open them only to find them lacking in cash.

Be Aware of Corporate Communications Graphics During Translation

What is a business translator? Translation technically covers converting written text from one language into another. As such, it can be easy to forget about the graphical elements in a corporate communications message. However, these often have to be translated, too. Infographics, tables, even captions under images all need to be included in the translation process when you’re trying to get your message across to a global audience.

If you want the translation process to go more smoothly and quickly, saving both time and money, keep images in mind as well. One common example is if an ad uses models. Often ads have to be re-photographed with models depicting someone more in line with local demographics. If you want to avoid having to completely redo ads to this extent, you may want to avoid using models, if possible, or else use a sufficiently diverse bunch of individuals when shooting the ads in the first place.

You should also keep in mind how much text your graphic elements are using. For instance, many companies that operate globally have adopted logos that work in any region. These logos tend to rely on universal shapes rather than lettering in a certain language. One example is the ubiquitous Apple computer logo, which could fit in just about anywhere. It takes consumers 10 seconds to form a first impression of a logo, so it’s important to get a logo that works well in any region.

From graphics to your main content, keep the process streamlined and simple in order to ensure that your message doesn’t get lost in translation when you communicate with global audiences. Doing so can also save time and reduce pressure on your corporate communications budget, so everyone wins.

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