As Robin Williams once said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” This sentiment is especially true in advertising. As any Creative Director will tell you: Every word matters when there is so little space and time to get a message across. And when advertising to Hispanics, one challenge is: Do you need original copywriting? Or is translating an effective option? What’s the difference? A copywriter writes copy. A translator translates words. Translating just the words may not be enough because it doesn’t always translate (pun intended) into good copy.
Copywriting gives meaning to words beyond the words themselves, so that a relevant and emotional connection is built between the consumer and the brand. This is especially important when it comes to Hispanics, who are more inclined to react emotionally to advertising. As such, copywriting for this segment requires strategic thinking and market knowledge, plus the all-important skill of creativity to help make a message memorable. Translating English copy can sometimes result in a loss of any emotion that was created in English (or worse, be devoid of emotion altogether to begin with).
You’d think that words have the same meaning in any language, yet they do not. In fact, there are words in Spanish that don’t even exist in English, and vice versa. So how do you translate English copy into Spanish and still communicate your intended message? Well, you have to make sure that the strategy behind the message is relevant to the target, first and foremost. Then, translate the message, not necessarily the actual words.
Clients are sometimes frustrated when they hear: “You can’t say that in Spanish,” or, “That saying has no meaning in Spanish.” A great phrase or idiom from the English language cannot usually be literally translated, but the message can. So “a walk in the park” in English becomes “bread eaten” in Spanish—different words, same meaning.
Translation can be effective when messages are simple and not dependent on colloquialisms or idioms, as noted earlier. But be careful. These days, almost everything is a colloquialism, slang or a new term invented by technology. So even the best translation may not deliver anything more than an ad full of words with little meaning.
For legal, medical, or highly technical text, translating is just fine. But, if you need to build a brand personality and bond with your consumer, copywriting is the better bet. It’s the difference between saying what you mean and giving meaning to what you say.
If you need help ensuring your message is delivered exactly how it was intended, let Anderson’s skilled bilingual copywriters adapt your content as well as create new copy to reach your target audience/market (and when needed, we’re skilled translators too!).