Language Translation: Sending the Right Retail Message

One of the most important aspects of expanding your retail business into foreign markets is accurate language translation. A literal translation is inadequate, as you run the risk of mistakes in vocabulary, grammar, syntax and cultural references that cause your content to appear incompetent. To be taken seriously in your proposed market, you need professional marketing content and food pack translation that to a consumer appears locally crafted. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering language translation for your retail business.


Clear Source Material

Before you have someone translate your material, be sure that it is expressed as clearly as possible. This may involve the elimination or specific explanation of obscure metaphors or other references that only work in English. You also may need to provide translators with background material, glossaries, style guides and anything else needed to help them understand the crux and nuances of what you are trying to say.


Casual Translation

When you require retail language translation, do not rely on subordinates, friends or business colleagues. Though they may be adequate as casual interpreters, they may not have the skills and training to handle marketing materials. Many people with excellent command of their native language are not trained as writers and editors. If you want to have professional-sounding content on your products, you need to have professionals write that content.


Machine and Computer-Assisted Translation

Professional computer-assisted translation is not the same as the machine translation you get at a site such as Google Translate. In machine translation, specifically programmed translation engines deal with basic texts. The translations are then revised by human editors. For more complex and specific tasks, however, human translators do computer-assisted translation with the aid of translation management systems. These are software programs used by human translators. They use translation memory technology to store phrases, sentences and paragraphs to enable translators to maintain continuity. This is efficient when a large body of content needs to be translated, as it speeds up the process by remembering previously translated material. However, it is important that the software be customized for each task and that the human translator render the message of the content and not merely the component parts. Computer-assisted translation also makes use of such software as spell checks, grammar checks, dictionaries, glossaries, terminology managers and other tools.



Transcreation is a relatively new term in advertising. It refers to the adaptation of an overall message to match the cultural context of your target market. This involves not just accurate text translation, but also imagery and visual design. A lot of nuance and cultural references go into the creation of marketing content, and literal translation of product packaging material without regard for consumer sensibility can result in advertising and packaging copy that is misleading or downright offensive. Transcreation takes the core of the message you are trying to convey and reworks it so it is suitable for the target language and culture. This goes beyond mere translation, or even localization, which is adapting language translations for specific locales.


In this era of globalization, expanding into international markets is easier than ever. However, it is imperative that you maintain the value of your brand and products by ensuring that your retail translations are suited for local consumers. Find a professional translation provider that uses local language translators and editors and offers services that include not just literal or machine-generated translation but integration into the cultural and legal needs of your target market.