Can I just translate this campaign into Spanish?

In short, the answer is no. We get this question a lot. It is a common misconception that marketing and advertising materials geared for the general market will work just as well in the Hispanic market. This is where many companies get it wrong. Directly translating a strategic message and related materials from English to Spanish (or any other language, for that matter) will rarely get you the results you’re hoping to achieve. Here’s why:

Understanding Differences

Imagine you’re marketing a new clothing line for women aged 60-75 and girls aged 8-12. Would you produce the exact same ads targeting both demographics at the same time? Probably not. Just like you would not market a clothing line to adults and children in the same ways, you shouldn’t market to both the general market and Hispanic market using the exact same messages and tactics.

Lost in Translation

“That assignment was easy as pie!” “This pair of jeans cost me an arm and a leg.” “Buy this one, and you’ll get more bang for your buck.” Each of these common U.S. phrases paints a very clear picture in the mind of a native English speaker. What would happen if you translated them directly to another language? Sure, you may be able to say something similar in German, French or Spanish, but the words will are not likely to convey they same meaning. This same concept applies both to language and to messages. Successfully appealing to the Hispanic market is far more than translating phrases and sentences. It’s understanding cultural, societal and linguistic connotations to directly appeal to this unique audience.

What Can Be Directly Translated?

Some items may be directly translated and still convey the same message. For example, a “buy one get one free” coupon or a “50% off” discount card with its rules and regulations does not hold any particular connotation with its message. It simply states an offer and its disclosures. Aside from these small exceptions, most campaigns will need to take a different route in appealing to bilinguals or Spanish-only speakers.

Understanding your target audience is the number one step in successfully creating and implementing a campaign. Need help connecting with the U.S. Hispanic population? You’ve come to the right place. Give us a call at 816-283-8300 or contact us online. We have helped businesses large and small across the entire nation and would love to do the same for you.