Why Are Brands Leapfrogging to Creative LSPs?

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Armed with a wealth of data in the digital era, now more than ever, brands are putting their customers at the center of their strategies and are in search of more direct and effective ways to engage with their audiences. Data-driven insights help brands to forge stronger and more meaningful relationships with their customers, consequently enhancing the customer experience and boosting sales.

With global expansion at the top of the agenda, understanding the differing needs of international audiences is paramount. No less important is conveying the essence of the brand to these customers, in a way that is faithful to its original positioning, while considering local sensitivities and culture. Increasingly, brands are coming straight to creative LSPs to deliver both.

Where do LSPs fit in?

Traditionally, brands employ an advertising agency to plan strategies and build global campaigns. Within the marketing vertical, these agencies then task transcreation specialist vendors to adapt the messaging, instructing them to keep faithful to the original concept, but still inject cultural relevance in the target language versions. The creative LSP sits at the end of the chain in this model, with multiple intermediaries between them and the brand. Here, deadlines are often at their shortest and briefs at their most streamlined – stripped of the delicate details that featured in the original and leaving the LSP to fill in the blanks.

This time-old workflow creates distance between the transcreation buyer and supplier. The party originating a creative concept is far removed from the side responsible for rendering it into other languages whilst retaining the brand’s integrity. Such distance can sometimes be felt in the output, with written copy that may not fully connect with its target market. When time constraints are at play, creative translators often have little opportunity to seek clarifications or all-important context. Nor do such stringent deadlines allow the linguist enough creative space to re-imagine the concept for their specific market. The LSP then ends up boxed in, and as a result, the foreign copy can be tinged with that same one-dimensional tone.

Creating additional steps that complicate the process also increases the chances of inaccurate or incomplete information being passed on, leading to potential misunderstandings. The outcome could be a disjointed global campaign, which can jeopardize relationships between brands and their customers and require further expense to iron out the cultural creases.

With creative LSPs sitting at the last stage, the transcreation buyer loses a valuable opportunity to benefit from local market expertise. After all, it is harder to create an effective worldwide marketing campaign without considering localization from the off. And this short-circuit approach means they miss out on the chance to culture check their copy before any concepts are set in stone.

Going direct: transparency and trust

Involving the localization and transcreation vendor from the outset has numerous advantages, including time and cost efficiencies and useful knowledge sharing. When LSPs and brands work directly together, the entire process is tailored in a way that works for everyone involved, from choosing technology, tracking progress and data, to allocating responsibilities, and implementing feedback. For the transcreation vendor, not only does eliminating the additional intermediaries help overall turnaround times of projects, but every stage is simplified, with easier, quicker exchanges. Translator queries can be addressed efficiently by those making the decisions. They can receive the full context of the task at hand, direct from the source. Ultimately, this avoids any answers being lost in translation, whilst awarding creative translators a sense of ownership over their work – leading to greater engagement with the copy they are dealing with. Feedback is reframed as constructive collaboration to create the most appropriate and effective final messaging, as opposed to a one-way workflow which can place blame solely on the translator. There is recognizable trust between the two entities, with each feeling valued and pulling together towards the same goal.

From the transcreation buyer’s point of view, this type of partnership gives them full transparency over the project. They can be given access to track the progress of the work, and in some cases, even choose the talent appointed for every language. Involvement in talent allocation humanizes the process, creating compassion for the person on the end of the keyboard and building trust in the transcreation vendor. Since not everyone on the brand’s side can understand each target language, these cemented relationships mean they can now rest assured their desired style and preference will be catered for across the board. Direct contact with the creative LSPs also means brands benefit from first-hand knowledge of each market, helping them to rapidly change messaging when needed. But most importantly, filtering back to strategy stage, it educates them to create campaigns that are driven by local insights and geared up for global success. It is this transparency and communication that builds trust and encourages agility within the workflow, with the brand able to have more control over their marketing around the globe.

Flexibility first

In the last couple of years, never has the need for a flexible attitude been more apparent. In the wake of the pandemic, the shift to digital has dramatically accelerated. The role of social media has played a huge part in galvanizing so many people worldwide amid new urgencies surrounding racial tragedies. Access to information about the crises has been of utmost importance. And the power of online advertising to reach every community has never been greater.

The outbreak of Covid-19 and the unprecedented events that ensued shook the marketing industry. It brought with it a necessity for fast communication and timely updates at a moment’s notice. This was not a one-country concern; it affected the whole world and communications in every language. Coupled with a growing global economic crisis, brands turned inwards to develop their messaging, create, and change it at pace and own their own voice. The localized content had to mirror this dexterity and provide solutions in facing each country’s differing journey through the pandemic.

The digital age has shone a light on racial injustices in recent years with social movements getting more and more traction. We witnessed the video of George Floyd’s murder ricochet around the web very quickly. Individual and community reactions were felt immediately and publicly. The outpouring of online support for the Black Lives Matter movement could not go unnoticed; it gained huge global momentum in a matter of weeks. And the vocal backlash on the internet has meant brands could not sit back and ignore trending issues. They were compelled to speak to their customers everywhere and address the narrative that occupied the spaces in which they advertise.

Brands require a communication partner they can trust to navigate through market reactions to hard-hitting topics and handle the localization of sensitive content. Updating every message, quickly and appropriately. Avoiding a consistent global approach and instead creating a tailored, targeted one. To always be conscious, culturally appropriate, and reactive to the ever-changing situation in each community. Brands needed to reassure their audience wherever they were in the world, that they care. And this could be fulfilled by working directly with creative language service providers.

A connected customer

Transcreation is, and always has been, about the customer. A dynamic partnership between a brand and transcreation vendor fosters a collaborative way of working, which directly translates down to the customer. And facilitating access to information on both sides has propelled the quality of localized marketing messaging – brands benefit from actionable insights to get them ahead of the trends and can take advantage of the vendor’s adaptability when needing to change communications in the face of difficult, rapidly changing circumstances.

When shifting to work directly with LSPs, there is visible brand equity in outgoing communications across all channels and languages. Direct contact enables the suppliers to educate stakeholders about the importance of involving localization from the outset of their campaign. Creative LSPs can provide cultural and linguistic insights that affect a brand’s marketing strategy and prompt them to develop one with a global perspective in mind. In the end, the joint commitment to consider the target market at every stage and in every render of messaging ensures long-term brand affinity from their customers.