Idiomatic Case Study - New Frontiers

Idiomatic Case Studies: Africa, Latin America and the Middle East

As the world becomes more interconnected and living standards continue to improve around the world, many previously neglected countries are entering the global economy with important roles. These so-called emerging markets - including many in the Middle East, South America and Africa - are experiencing population growth, high levels of internet connectivity and an increasingly educated workforce. These markets represent huge growth opportunities for any company. Investors and entrepreneurs need to look beyond the traditional markets of Western Europe and the United States.

Idiomatic Dubai was recently approached by a large tech startup (we'll call it Acme Inc.) at our Middle East headquarters to help them with a series of ongoing translations. The United Arab Emirates-based technology company had recently acquired a subsidiary of a famous multinational media company and hoped to gain a significant market share in French-speaking Africa and Latin America.

Acme Inc. understood that in order to best attract potential consumers, it would be necessary to offer high-quality multilingual content in the mother tongue of the target audience. Acme Inc. provided in-house Arabic translations, while Idiomatic Dubai would provide French and Spanish language materials.

Building Trust

After initial contact and receipt of marketing materials from Acme Inc., the native speaking Idiomatic translators got to work. After a thorough review of the translation according to ISO standards, the translation was delivered to Acme Inc., whose CEO and founder was quick to say he wasn't at all happy with the end result.

Idiomatic Dubai, with the assistance of the Canadian and US branches, open a non-conformity investigation for translation review and to provide a quality audit. However, the reviewers agreed that the translation was correct and represented the original text well. Some stylistic and grammatical changes were made and the translation was re-delivered to the CEO. Again, he was not happy.

Idiomatic proposed a meeting with the CEO of Acme Inc. to solve the problem. Interestingly, the CEO was not disappointed with the technical quality of the translation, but felt that the tone of the translation was inappropriate. He wanted his company's message to be bold and fresh, but that the translations as they were didn't mesh with his vision. He wanted marketing materials to be fun, youthful, imaginative and, in his own words, "disruptive." He didn't want the translation to be very similar to the original, rather that the original should be used as a creative springboard for the target language.

Before continuing, Idiomatic asked the CEO to specify the why, what and how of their product. Why would you bring your product to the world, what is the purpose of your product, and how will you use it to change people's lives?

Transcreation, not translation

A few days later, the CEO of Acme Inc. came back to Idiomatic and clearly defined his creative vision. He told us that he wanted to break the rules in the startup space, and in turn, needed multilingual content that supported his goal.

We learned that Acme Inc. was actually looking for transcreation of their marketing materials, not creative translation. Transcreation is a term derived from the words "translation" and "create" and is used in translation studies to describe the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context. Idiomatic Dubai essentially had full creative authority to develop content in French and Spanish as long as it adhered to the brand's core principles. Our linguists created new slogans, used puns and provided creative references. After much discussion back and forth with Acme Inc., Idiomatic produced a series of marketing materials that reflected the company philosophy envisioned by its founder and CEO.

Although the translation itself was technically difficult, the most difficult aspect was understanding the client's needs and goals. Many translation companies, especially larger ones, try to use a one-size-fits-all approach to achieve economies of scale. On the other hand, Idiomatic has a global reach, but is still small enough that our executives can sit down and talk directly to clients. By listening to our clients' needs, we can find creative solutions to creative problems, thereby building business relationships based on trust.

At Idiomatic Canada, we love a challenge. Do you have complex translation needs? In this case, you can contact us here.