Speed is a premium commodity.  We know it.  We are all in a hurry, never doing just one thing at a time: text while on the phone, listen to a webinar while checking e-mail, eat and work …   We hate delays, long lines, getting voice mail.  And we will pay for speed. 

“Slow” is expensive.  Every minute we can save on time-to-market means more money.[1] Speed builds more speed, and it’s not going away.

Translation is not exempt from the pressures of speed, either.  The most common feedback we receive from clients “get projects back faster.” The ultimate goal for us word-nerds is to obsess over providing the highest quality translation, while also providing the quickest turnaround time.  But speed doesn’t fit well in the quality equation.  Try making your grandma’s slow cooked pot roast in 15 minutes and see what you get.   Even the best of translation companies struggle to meet the sometimes unrealistic turnaround times in order to make clients happy, often at the risk of their reputation. 

Believe it or not, you can control the turnaround time of you translation projects and achieve quality for good measure. Here are some tips to get your translation projects back faster, without sacrificing quality or diluting your brand voice, by turning your focus to your ad agency.

“Huh? Our ad agency?” you ask. And the answer is a resounding, “YES!” Consider how long it takes an ad agency to roll out a global marketing campaign compared with the time allocated for translation and cultural adaptation. It’s about 3 to 1.  

Let me offer some tips that will help get you back in the fast lane, controlling your brand voice in foreign markets. You will be hailed as hero if you can manage this process correctly. 

  1. Let go of tradition. The traditional marketing and branding initiatives of the past included language and culture only as an afterthought. Think: “Here is my fantastic new ad campaign to sell Widgets! Now let’s head to the translation company and have it translated.”  Instead, determine to put language, culture and transcreation in the forefront of your global initiatives.  Transcreation is the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. It includes translation, but it goes farther. A successfully transcreated ad campaign delivers the same message, evokes the same emotions, and carries the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language. So, instead of just translation of the words in your already-created ad campaign, start with understanding that selling your widgets in different places, in different languages, and in different cultures may mean anything from picking different colors to developing completely different campaigns to ensure that your message is heard and understood around the globe.
  2. Pick a good one.  Work with a great ad agency that gets it.  Don’t go backwards. A good agency will include the transcreation (with the translation team) process upstream by integrating culture and language into the core strategy.   If your ad agency isn’t doing this, insist on it.  This step is critical in helping your brand feel local in the global marketplace.  
  3. Create and transcreate at the same time.  Put the ad agency on notice to provide you with completed source content as it is developed.  You should be in control.  Why?  To ensure that your brand voice is not diluted.  Substantial amounts of the multilingual content can be developed in parallel to the rest of the marketing implementation process. The translation of content should begin immediately upon completion of source content, enabling translators and multilingual copywriters to do their cultural adaptation magic. By making time during the development of your ad campaign to focus on your brand voice around the globe, you eliminate last-minute, “rush job” translations that have not given the multilingual content creators insight into the idiosyncrasies of the campaign.  
  4. Focus on technology.  Ensure that your ad agency works with a translation company that uses state-of-the-art software. The translation process is both faster and easier where global content creation extremely automated. Great systems used by translation companies that “get it” automate the typically manual processes associated with translation, localization and transcreation and centralizes them in a single, cloud-based platform, which speeds time to market. This methodology has become an imperative for companies that are serious about global marketing.  You, as the client, should keep the pulse of this because time to market means money.

If you follow these tips, you might notice something strange. Your marketing timeline has gotten far shorter! Why? When you work with an ad agency that puts language and culture up front, integrates transcreation throughout the process (not just at the end), and uses high tech language automation, you can get things done faster. You might not be able to fully control the many moving parts of the marketing implementation process.  But you can control the integration of the language-culture process by following these tips (especially #3 and #4!).

Companies have the right to demand fast translation turnaround time. The need for speed is gaining uncontainable momentum due to factors like technology, automation and the internet. You can control it by ensuring synchronicity between linguistics and the marketing implementation process to maintain your brand voice and gain speed-to-market, too.

[1] It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small … It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow: How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business, Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton (2002).