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Marketing translations is a vital step across all industries. With so many different cultures affecting global markets, it’s important to present branding messages in a way that is culturally sensitive as well as linguistically accurate for product’s or service’s success. Unlike technical documents, marketing communications material is highly visible and often written in highly expressive language. To reach global audiences, it is essential to ensure that the marketing messages resonate cross-culturally. Transcreation makes this possible.

Logos, slogans or tag-lines, and promotional materials need to be tailored to best reflect the message of the content as well as the target market. Often, a slogan that works well in one culture translates into something with a completely different meaning, and one that is not intended.

For life sciences, this presents some unique challenges, as health and personal care products often take different approaches than other industries. Attitudes towards health, given the personal nature of the subject matter, can vary drastically and can cause potentially disastrous results. What may convey a message of excitement with one audience, may be embarrassing, or even offensive, for another.

Mistaken Messaging Blunders

There are a lot of examples to see just how integral tailoring to the message to the client can be. Take a look at a couple of these from A Short Course in International Marketing Blunders by Michael White:

Pepsodent Toothpaste
When Colgate-Palmolive tried to market Pepsodent toothpaste in South-East Asia and its tooth whitening properties, they failed to accurately assess the market. In the region, dark teeth were a sign of prestige. In actuality, locals chew betel nuts to stain their teeth. The slogan, “You’ll wonder where the yellow went”, was not only undesirable but also seen as racist by some.

Vicks cough drops launched a marketing campaign in Germany without taking pronunciations into account. Unfortunately, the pronunciation was the same as the slang for sexual intercourse.

What You Need to Consider During Transcreation

During the transcreation process, it is important to perform a cultural assessment. Looking at past marketing experiences and cultural preferences in the target market enables understanding of how to convey brand messages to the appropriate audience successfully.

A significant advantage when working with a language service provider (LSP) during the cultural assessment process is the resource of in-country subject matter experts. In-country subject matter experts have extensive knowledge and understanding of the target market, with specific expertise beyond translation in copywriting, marketing, design, and branding.

In addition to in-country subject matter experts, style guides are another crucial component of transcreation. Creating a style guide, or utilizing an existing one, enables LSPs to help global life science companies protect the nature of the marketing message. Determining which branding elements such as terminology, graphics, and messages will resonate best with the target audience is crucial in ensuring success of the service or product entering the new market.

Another key component, part of the quality assurance process for brand accuracy in transcreation, is back translation. Back translation ensures that the look and feel is consistent throughout the transcreation process, to help mitigate any potential problems before the product reaches the market.

The Art of Social Media Patient Engagement

For the life science industry, one area that recently has seen dramatic growth in requesting subject matter experts in the transcreation process is patient recruitment. While there are many ways to recruit patients for clinical trials, like TV and radio ads, cold calling, or mailing marketing material, social media is an increasingly popular and innovative way of reaching patients. Unlike other modes of patient engagement, social media allows for patients to respond directly with their feedback and interact with the advertisements, as well as also share among their own network, facilitating the potential to reach more patients in the target population much easier.  In order for these advertisements to work and attract the target patients for the clinical study, the social media posts must be adapted to be culturally sensitive as well as engaging and dynamic to stand out among other clinical trial advertisements.

Patient engagement, including recruitment and retention of the target patients, is a crucial part of the drug development process for clinical trials. In order to attract and retain patients, highly engaging marketing materials that are accurately and professionally transcreated by in-country linguists with cultural and demographic understanding. Shaping the right message through keywords, ideas, and themes helps drive patient engagement, therefore leading to a better clinical trial, and ultimately ensuring drug efficacy and safety before entering the target market.