The Future of Translation: Our Predictions For Global Conversations in 2023

These days, it can be hard to keep up with the ever-changing digital marketing landscape. In fact, you might feel like you’re learning a whole new language every week just to keep up with the latest Google algorithm update, TikTok challenge or who’s running Twitter. Luckily, we’re language and marketing experts and although we can’t predict Elon’s next move, we do have some valuable insights into the future of translation and transcreation that can help you take your brand global in 2023. 

What is Transcreation?

Transcreation could be described as ‘creative translation’. Rather than directly translating the copy into the chosen new language, linguists will infuse the copy with cultural insights and local knowledge to ensure the message resonates with the target audience. This may mean adapting the wording or even suggesting a design alteration.

Learn more about Managed Language’s transcreation services.

As the world becomes ever more connected, our communication needs to change. Although language and translation have been continuously evolving for hundreds of years, artificial intelligence, chatbots and machine learning have revolutionised the field. Below are our predictions for the biggest translation trends for the next 12 months.

Trend 1: AI and Machine Translation

Machine translation is nothing new, in fact, we’ve been tinkering with updates to our own software for years. But, with significant advances in artificial intelligence, it’s now possible to simulate human reasoning — meaning the output is more reliable and more readable. 

But what exactly is AI translation? It’s a machine translation process based on algorithms and deep learning, giving it the ability to reason and understand the source text to construct new sentences in the target language. By employing a system of neural networks inspired by the human brain, AI allows software programmes to learn new words, structure sentences and even interpret contextual information. Impressive, right?

AI image

This is likely to go from strength to strength in the next 12 months as AI technology such as ChatGPT and Jasper AI become more widely used. Recently, ChatGPT has been all over social media, with digital marketers around the globe waxing lyrical about its ability to respond to technical and intricate questions with well-reasoned responses and thoughtful translations. 

However, there are drawbacks to AI-driven translations. The time and vast data sets needed to train a machine translation programme to give you high-quality results can be costly, and that’s before considering the ‘trial and error’ phase. Most importantly, AI is still not a perfect substitute for living, breathing linguists. Despite being based on human reasoning, machine translation cannot replicate the emotional nuances and cultural insights that make marketing copy so engaging. And sarcasm or irony? No chance. 

Trend 2: Emerging Markets

Over the last few years, trying to make waves in emerging markets has been a risky move. But with trade deals being struck, supply chains solidifying and exchange rates strengthening, the future is looking much brighter for global expansion

But, when aiming for world domination (or something slightly less sinister), brands need to consider how their marketing campaigns will capture the attention of their new target audience. A cultural misstep when choosing the tone, imagery or even overall messaging can dramatically damage brand reputation, which is why more and more companies are turning to transcreation agencies to help them navigate new markets.

Although a historical example, Parker Pens’ attempt at capturing the Mexico market is infamous. Attempting to take the “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” slogan global, the company believed the Spanish translation for ‘embarrass’ was embarazar.  In fact, it means ‘impregnate’, leading to…

Parker marketing message translated to "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant"

The lack of human insight and linguistic nuance led to a very awkward marketing campaign — albeit a funny one. 

A quick Google search of ‘translation marketing mistakes’ will offer a whole host of similarly cringe-worthy campaigns from some of the biggest brands in the world such as adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonalds. And while large-scale household names may be able to weather blunders like these, smaller companies need to take this into consideration before entering a new market. 

Over the coming year, India, China and Brazil (among others) will be building their spending power and become top targets for expanding businesses. Cultural norms and local values play a crucial role in the success of marketing campaigns in these countries, as well as the longevity of businesses in general. Finding a reputable and reliable transcreation agency to guide your growth will be imperative for breaking into these emerging marketings in 2023.

Trend 3: Localization

Did you know that at least 65% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if the website they’re browsing is written in their native language? And with the advent of machine translation and AI providing users with, at least, a basic native translation, this trend is only going to become more pronounced in the coming months.

With so many brands vying for a position in the global market, investing time and money into understanding the local culture could be the difference between a successful brand, and a failed one. Localization is so much more than just translation – it can give brands an insight into payment methods, design and even what products they should market in different regions. 

Slack is a great example of this. As the company expanded to other countries, the developers were able to use their valuable local research to adapt its helpful hints to engage and build trust with the target market. 

As we move forward into 2023, user experience will be at the forefront of every digital marketer’s mind: from interpreting local idioms to promoting products for just one region, understanding what the target audience wants and needs is the best way to build a brand.

Trend 4: Cultural Sensitivity

Accessibility and inclusivity has never been more important to consumers than it is now, and they’re quick to point out when a brand falls short. Whether it’s a badly worded campaign or an awkward attempt at celebrating Pride Month, brands can easily damage their reputation with a cultural faux pas. 

We’ve seen a lot of social, political and economic unrest over the last few years, and marketing blunders go hand-in-hand with this. Look at Pepsi’s collab with Kendall Jenner in 2017 that is still talked about for its trivialisation of Black Lives Matter. Unfortunately, this is not a unique example — one quick Google search for ‘insensitive ad campaigns’ will bring up a myriad of cringe-worthy, unsympathetic marketing attempts. 

It is always best to approach such sensitive topics with caution — maybe sleep on your ‘genius’ marketing slant before pitching it to the boss. But if the go-ahead is given, it’s vital to take social cues, regional beliefs and local customs into account. A cultural review of your new market may be the only thing standing between a win and a loss.

Final Thoughts

We don’t presume to know the future, however we are experts when it comes to language and marketing. Over the past few years, the industry has had its ups and downs, but one thing remains constant: consumers respond to personalisation. Tailoring your site, or promotional materials, to your target audience is well worth the time, effort and money. 

Here at Managed Language, we’ve been working with these ideas in mind for years already. We have a full roster of talented, local writers who can transform your marketing content with cultural insights, local nuances and expert linguistic knowledge. Get in touch today to find out how we can take your brand global.


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