Better business Results with Multilingual Voiceover

How do you find the perfect voice for your multilingual voice over?

When it comes to multilingual voiceovers, depending on what content you’re creating, you need a voice/accent to match. If you’re a Swiss private bank, then a jovial, jokey voice won’t cut it. After all, you’d want to convey trustworthiness and dependability. Likewise, if you’re advertising a sporting event or a pop concert, you wouldn’t want a stuffy, professional-sounding narrator voice. It’d just be too boring. 

But how do you decide? There is a wealth of research on how various voices and accents affect audience engagement. Read on to find out more. 

Accent bias

Whether you like it or not, we live in a hierarchical society. Some people believe that changing your accent is as important as dressing smartly for a job interview. In the UK, received pronunciation, or RP, is the term for what many would call an upper-class accent. BBC broadcasters used to train in this accent to convey authority, hence its ‘BBC English’ moniker. And former prime minister Margaret Thatcher ditched her north Lincolnshire accent and deepened her narrator voice to convey authority in what was then a male-dominated arena. It worked.

Going in the opposite direction, upper-class politicians, such as former UK chancellor George Osbourne, who attended boarding school and Oxford University, have been known to adopt a more working-class accent to appeal to a wider section of the electorate. Comedians have parodied this as a ‘mockney’ accent. But why bother?

Research shows it takes listeners just 30 milliseconds to form an opinion as to what a person’s accent reveals about the speaker’s ethnic and social background. This process comprises an element of bias and assumption. This is bias in action. 

These assumptions can encompass sexuality, ethnic identity, socioeconomic status and even character. Listeners, research shows, react differently to different accents, even if there is no evidence on which to base these assumptions. Knowing how this process works will help you identify which type of narrator voice and accent are most suitable for your content voiceover.

Attitudes to accents

Though we should all try to challenge our unfounded accent biases, the truth is that these prejudices exist and are likely to continue. Accents that are commonly perceived to be standard, whether that’s Beijing accented Mandarin or RP, are perceived to be of higher prestige and thus are better suited for higher-status professional content. 

One element of standard pronunciation that has been proven is that listeners generally think speakers with this accent are smarter than the general population. Pleasantness is also attributed to standard accent speakers. This is true across various cultures. For example, in Singapore, which has a sizeable Chinese population, research shows citizens perceive Taiwanese, Beijing and Singaporean-accented Mandarin differently. Beijing-accented Chinese is viewed more favourably than the local accent. Only a highly experienced multilingual voice-over services provider could advise on the type of accent/voice needed to match the content. 

multilingual voice over

Accents convey a lot of information about the speaker and, therefore the product or service they are talking about

Positive vs negative traits

Discrimination based on accents is very real and is part of what makes us human. After all, when competing with fellow tribes over resources millennia ago, it was important to distinguish which person belonged to what group. 

In the modern day, this is reflected in the numerous polls that seek to find the world’s sexiest or most trustworthy accent. In a recent global poll of 2,500 single men and women, Scottish men (think Outlander) and Spanish women (think Penelope Cruz) were determined to have the world’s sexiest accents, though these findings tend to change with each new survey.

Women favoured the following accents:

Scottish 86%

Irish 77%

Italian 68%

French 61%

Spanish 56%

Brazilian Portuguese 48%

Queen’s English 47%

Australian 35%

South African 29%

Mexican 23%

Men favoured the following accents:

Spanish 88%

Brazilian Portuguese 76%

Australian 72%

French 69%

American 62%

Kiwi 54%

Czech 47%

Italian 43%

Mexican 31%

Scottish 29%

In Asia, one study found that listeners expressed a positive perception of Taiwanese-accented Chinese, even though it is thought of as a non-standard dialect. 

It’s not only the voice that can prompt accent bias. One study found that a person’s face can affect how a listener perceives their voice. This research shows that seeing an Asian face makes American English appear more accented. However, this aspect isn’t so important when it comes to voiceovers. 

multilingual voice over

What accent do you find to be the most trustworthy?

Multilingual voice-over tips

Given the myriad perceptions different voices and accents can convey, an expert voice-over service provider can recommend the perfect match for your content. Most importantly, you’ll need to identify your consumer persona. You need to determine exactly who you want to engage. Is it middle-aged dads, young students, or female retirees? The voice will need to match. Also, you’ll need to align the voice and accent with your product or service. For example, if you’re selling legal or financial services, a deeper standard accent tends to convey authority and dependability. If you’re targeting a younger demographic and your service is music-streaming, a young voice and hip accent are more appropriate. Also, consider the reach of the language and accent/voice. For example, if you’re in Hong Kong, consider whether Mandarin or Cantonese would be the best fit. One consideration to bear in mind is where in China they speak Cantonese. Then you’d need to settle on the accent.

When looking for a voice-over service provider, make sure they can provide a range of voices and accents. You don’t want to be shoe-horned into an inappropriate voice if the service provider doesn’t have a wide enough range on offer. 

If the voiceover is part of a social media marketing campaign, it’s worth considering engaging a popular influencer that appeals to your audience persona. 

Final thoughts

Whether you’re looking at eLearning voice-over or voice-over podcasts, navigating the nuances of voice-overs is much more complicated than first appears. Getting it wrong could result in a waste of resources and a product or service that flops. Seek the advice of an expert and professional voice dubbing service provider. They will be able to determine the right fit for not only the audience segment you’re targeting but for the product or service you are selling and will find the most appropriate narrator’s voice. Whether you’re doing eLearning translation, multilingual SEO, additional dialogue recording or animation production, getting the voice-over right is critical. It is this alignment that determines the success of a voice-over project. Get in touch today to explore your voice-over options.

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Better marketing Results with Language Localization

Marketing language is crucial to business success, no matter what sector or location you work in. But with more than a dozen types of marketing strategies to deploy to meet your goals, including brand awareness, influencer, video, SEO, email and public relations campaigns, picking the right one to achieve your business objectives is a fine art. And on top of that, you have cultural and linguistic challenges to contend with when marketing across borders. 

Successful marketing campaigns share several determining characteristics: clearly defined goals, the right platform and engaging content. But what constitutes the optimal platform and engaging content varies according to cultural and linguistic differences.

What is localisation?

This is where localisation, the process of adapting content to look and feel right in another culture, comes in. The end result is content that aligns with local sensibilities and is sensitive to cultural idiosyncrasies. But why go to all that trouble? Quite simply, nine out of 10 global users will ignore a product or service if it’s not in their native language, Nimdzi data show.

When localisation goes right, the rewards can be huge, especially if you’re venturing into a large market like mainland China, home to some 782.4 million online shoppers alone. But when it goes wrong, not only are resources wasted, but reputations can be shredded. For example, Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, launched three videos in November 2018 on Chinese social media to market its upcoming runway show. The clips feature models clumsily attempting to eat Italian food like pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks. This was seen by many Chinese consumers as insulting, with the backlash resulting in a canceled show and dismal sales results. This ruined the firm’s China marketing strategy. Therefore, entering China market requires the help of an expert localisation partner.

Dolce & Gabbana’s confusing chopsticks campaign was perceived as insulting in China

So, how do you deploy localisation in your marketing language to maximum effect, and avoid the pitfalls? Read on for Into23’s expert tips on optimally engaging across cultures.

Localisation best practice

Seek expert local knowledge

The long list of marketing localisation bloopers that has been reported can be partly attributed to companies failing to enlist the help of an expert and highly experienced localisation partner, not just in the target marketing language spoken, but also its prevalent cultural nuances. Skimping on this element may seem like a cost-effective strategy, but the risk is that the campaign will fall flat, wasting resources, or worse, it could elicit a public backlash, which would require time and money to fix. Many firms outsource this element, especially if they don’t have an established, on-the-ground team in the target market. For example, outsourcing is a great option if you don’t have a China branch office.

Outsourcing marketing campaign localisation has grown in popularity over the past couple of years, partly because of travel restrictions, but also to minimise the risks involved in the process. Rather than hiring local talent, companies can access expert help that can be scaled up or down fairly quickly. 

Open up the creative process

Localisation experts are creative talents. Not only are they adept at executing a marketing campaign, they are also wizards at creatively adapting the marketing goals and tactics to appeal to local audiences. In short, they see the big picture and the tiny details. This creative process is most effective when the client’s marketing team are open to creative input. A collegial, open and collaborative working relationship yields the best localisation results. 

Competitor analysis 

While marketers often conduct a competitor analysis in their home market to uncover where rivals are missing a beat, there’s a strong case for extending the analysis to cover all markets that a campaign will be rolled out in. The rationale is the same. When consumers are considering which product or service to make use of, they compare similar offerings. This comparative range is often very different in each market. For example, if you’re a fried chicken fast-food chain looking to tap the Philippines, your main competitor would be Jollibee, not KFC.  

Tapping into the Philippines fried chicken market? Your main competitor is Jollibee, not KFC

Test, test, test

The aforementioned marketing localisation bloopers could have easily been prevented though the use of localisation testing. For example, it’s far more efficient to engage a focus group and test a marketing campaign content and language before rolling it out. If HSBC Bank had deployed this tactic, its marketers would have probably discovered that the quality translation of its slogan “Assume Nothing” into “Do Nothing” in 2009 wouldn’t elicit much engagement. Look for a localisation partner that offers multimedia localisation services. Not only that, but look for a partner with experience in your niche. For example, if you’re a crypto company, look for crypto currency and blockchain localization services. Moreover, make sure the company can also cover linguistic testing and localization services.

HSBC could’ve avoided its ‘Do Nothing’ campaign through localisation testing

Audit results

Marketing return on investment (ROI) is the ultimate key performance indicator (KPI) for campaigns. It’s what measures success (or failure). Auditing the results of localisation can serve two purposes. Firstly, it will show what’s working and what’s not, which enables marketers to rejig campaigns for maximum effect. The results are also useful for guiding future localisation efforts. Second, these metrics justify the resources expended on cross-border marketing campaigns. The latter point is especially useful if senior management aren’t convinced of the efficacy of assigning marketing resources to localisation. A detailed audit will identify areas that should be avoided, or areas that could be most efficiently expanded. For example, if you’re a US-based company that goes all out on a WeChat campaign to tap mainland China’s legions of consumers, then an audit would identify what content and messages worked. 

Metrics to include in an audit are the number of newly acquired customers in the target market, and conversion rate, the size of the increase in traffic, and any changes to market share and ROI.

Deploy full brand localisation

Finally, rather than just localising a marketing campaign, it’s well worth considering localising the whole brand. A localised marketing campaign for a product or service from a non-localised brand is asking a lot of consumers. Essentially, you’d be marketing to people with no association to your brand. Therefore, earning trust, either for your brand as a reputable company or the product, would be much harder. Having an established localised brand lays the groundwork. You may have a great China-focused marketing language, but if your target consumers don’t know your brand, it might not work. Any comprehensive China entry strategy would include full brand localisation.

An expert and highly experienced translation and localization team will suggest options that work in your target markets, and act as an extension of your marketing team, working hand-in-hand to produce content that resonates. 

To explore your marketing localisation options, get in touch with Into23’s team of highly experienced advertising transcreation and creative translation specialists. 

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Are Less People Speaking English now?

How languages rise and fall & why English’s dominance is waning

Humans have utilised language for some 100,000 years. In that time, some languages have risen, and others have fallen into obscurity. The list of today’s endangered languages, those heading toward extinction, includes dozens of languages with just a handful of speakers, like Ainu, which is spoken in Hokkaido, Japan. The National Geographic Society estimates that out of the 7,000 or so languages spoken on Earth, one dies every two weeks. On the other hand there’s English, which is the most widely spoken language since humans started using language.

Languages Mapped

This world map of languages is the result of a complex set of processes. Two of these processes that have had a particularly outsized impact on the languages we speak today are colonisation and the globalisation of communication, as outlined by Professor R.M.W. Dixon in his 2012 book The Rise and Fall of Languages.

Both for changes within languages and for changes to languages, there are two main modes of change: abrupt or gradual (language splitting). Professor Dixon outlines how profound linguistic changes do not occur gradually, but rather abruptly, typically over the course of a generation or two. Change, in other words, is more like a succession of steps than a constant climb. But how do these abrupt changes occur, and can we expect that today’s dominant languages – Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi, and Arabic, in order of native speakers – will undergo the same process?

Lingua franca

Linguist and historian Nicholas Ostler in his 2010 book The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel examines how English became a lingua franca.

English, while indisputably the world’s dominant language today, is not without flaws. Its use has generated societal issues in certain nations, leading to its rejection, while in others it has provided a compromise communication option.

The globalisation of English occurred as a result of a number of historical developments, each of which has left its mark. Languages spoken over broad swaths of land are first and foremost produced and preserved by big polities—empires—and English is no different. However, an empire’s choice of language has historically mostly been pragmatic; nationalism has only lately motivated governments.

The British Empire in 1920

History & English

At its zenith, the British Empire in 1922 ruled over 458 million people or 25% of the world’s landmass. The impact of the British Empire on its constituent countries’ culture, legal systems, and language was immense. In the colonisation process, indigenous inhabitants experienced the erosion of their native languages, belief systems, and cultural traditions.

 The current status of English is without precedent, Ostler argues. At the same time, it plays a major part in finance, science, tourism, commerce, politics, sport, and even entertainment and popular music around the world. 

It appears practically embedded, with no clearly comparable opponent; even in China, one of the only countries with a language with more native speakers, every schoolchild today studies English. And India, which is expected to surpass China in population by 2050, is already capitalising on an English proficiency inherited from the British Empire and meticulously preserved and nurtured since then. If it keeps its usefulness as a worldwide medium of communication, English is unlikely to break into a family of languages, Ostler argues. 

Language imperialism

If we survey humankind’s linguistic history, there are numerous examples of languages that rose to prominence and then fell into disuse. Perhaps the most widely known one is Latin. While it is still learned and studied, it’s not spoken. It’s dead, not extinct. The spread of Latin was the result of the expansion of the Roman Empire, and subsequent use by the Catholic Church. This process is known as language imperialism.

The working definition of linguistic imperialism, according to linguist Robert Phillipson is: “the dominance asserted and maintained by the establishment and continuous reconstitution of structural and cultural inequalities between English and other languages.” 

An estimated 1.5 billion people in the world speak English, according to the World Economic Forum

Indeed the author argues that the mere teaching of English is an act of linguistic imperialism. One of the key ideas in this school of thought is that the spread of English, largely through language education around the world, has undermined other languages and marginalised the opportunity for broad multilingual education. 

More about the Spread

From the 18th century, English’s spread, according to Phillipson, was the result of English-speaking countries’ desire to conquer and quell other nations. This process negatively affected the life chances of many non-English speakers, and put pressure on indigenous languages. And this isn’t a process that’s confined to dusty old history books.

For example, in the US, the predominance of English has driven the demise of many Native-American languages. Ethnologue today lists 245 indigenous languages in the US, with 65 already extinct and 75 near extinction, many with only a handful of elder speakers remaining. One aspect of this demise is that many of the languages spoken around the world have yet to be documented, or preserved in the form of a dictionary.

As with English, the spread of Latin was due to language imperialism

The final curtain

There are several stages to a language’s demise and terminology to match. 

  • A vulnerable language is one where children speak their parents’ language only at home or when conversing with relatives.
  • An endangered language is one that children no longer study, although it is their mother tongue.
  • A critically endangered language is one where the youngest speakers are grandparents.

While language pedants may lament a perceived decline in the usage of English, with adults mimicking teen slang and the populace’s understanding of grammar diminishing, resulting in what’s argued to be an expressive decline, it’s clear that the prevalence of English in much of the world is here to stay. 

However, that’s not to say that English isn’t evolving. In fact, it has been subject to constant evolution since its earliest roots. There is no one standard form of English that’s spoken around the world – there are many versions of English. 

From Germanic settlers who moved to England, through the Norman conquerors from France and the influence of the Celts and Angles, English roots form a rich tapestry of influences. This diversity, as well as its recent past as the language of the Empire, indicates that English’s reach and influence will likely continue.

When looking at the languages used in modern multilingual translation services, English is always a core language. These services range from translation services Chinese to English, multilingual translation services, and localization and translation services, to technical translation services, academic translation services and gaming translation services. Whether you’re looking for legal translations Spanish to english, american voice over services, content translation service, or an ecommerce translation services, Into23 can help with all your translation requirements. 

To access expert quality translation help, get in touch with Into23 today.

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Great Tips for translating a press release

Marketing and public relations form the backbone of publicising products and services, and with globalisation and internationalisation gathering pace, more companies are selling more of their wares to different markets. Not only that, but economic power is shifting eastward, making Asian markets evermore important to companies looking to expand. To successfully tap foreign markets, a number of considerations need to be thoroughly thought through and strategize, including how to translate marketing materials and press releases

However, there are numerous pitfalls to avoid when translating a press release. For example, regulations covering the claims that can be made about a product or service differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and the rules around financial, legal and healthcare content are particularly strict. Any translation should comply with the letter with these rules. Other pitfalls come in the form of conventions, from the date format (is it year, month or date first?), to the currency used and general tone of a release.

Running your press release through machine translation solutions alone just won’t cut it. In fact, it’ll likely be a waste of resources as the mistakes and lack of context in any release that’s processed this way will reflect poorly on the quality of the services or products being publicised.

Read on to discover Into23’s top tips for translating a press release with impact. 

What is a press release?

Before running through the top tips that’ll make your press release translation pop, it’s worth thinking about what a release is intended to achieve. This type of content comprises compelling, short news stories, often written by press officers. It’s an official statement from a company, person or other entity that’s sent to the media with a view to conveying key messages.

Ensuring that these messages are conveyed optimally for each different market is the optimal approach. For example, in the US, press releases tend to be very short and to the point, whereas in China, releases tend to be longer and contain more background and supplementary information. The goal is to convey the right information in the clearest possible manner. 

Tailoring press releases to the nuances in the target market maximises engagement

How best to translate a press release

Target precisely 

On paper, appealing to as many people as possible with your press release might seem like the sensible approach, but targeting a release to appeal to the most suitable demographic optimises the return on investment. For example, if you’re announcing the launch of a dog toy, appealing to cat owners and people that don’t have any pets is not an efficient strategy. 

Key targeting considerations include the language pair to be translated. For instance, press releases in the US are often issued in Spanish as it is the second most-spoken language in the country. This consideration will help guide your choice of translation services partner, so you can collaborate with the most appropriate agency, whether you’re looking at a release in farsi vs Arabic, or assessing whether to translate from Chinese to Japanese.

Tone of Voice

Also, tone of voice is important. It will vary according to the type of person you’re targeting, whether investors, communications partners, media or consumers, and the type of message you’re conveying. Do you want your release to resonate with middle-aged investors looking to increase their retirement investments, or is it young parents in newly formed families?

If you’re looking to generate media coverage, then the media landscape in each market where the release will be unveiled needs to be thoroughly researched and covered in the release strategy. If you’re publicising a business-to-business service, for example, then targeting the trade press is a common approach. However, the depth and breadth of the trade media vary between markets. As a world financial centre, Hong Kong has a vibrant finance trade press, whereas Vietnam doesn’t.

The above considerations will guide the choice of words used in the translation in terms of cultural appropriateness, which will help maximise engagement. 

Date formats are essential to keep in mind when proofreading your press release

Pay attention to convention

Dates, currencies and phone number formats are just three examples of how information is conveyed differently in various markets. Another consideration is the release format. European releases tend to be shorter than US or British versions, for example, whereas in Germany, the media is especially keen on data in releases. European readers are also sensitive to anglicisms, so these are best avoided, where possible.

These are nuances that a highly experienced translation agency will be able to expertly navigate. 

Draw on industry expertise 

Though a press release is usually a short text, the level of precision needed to convey key messages that resonate means that a translator with industry expertise in the target market is the best approach. They’ll understand the nuances and conventions and be able to tailor the messages and content accordingly to achieve maximum impact.

You wouldn’t want a translator with no experience of the gaming industry translating news about your latest game update, for instance. Therefore, partnering with a gaming translation services agency would be the best approach to access this particularly creative translation expertise.

The gaming industry is a prime example of a press release requiring translation expertise

Localise, don’t just translate

Translation is the process of reworking a text from a source language into another language, maintaining the original meaning. Meanwhile, localisation is the process of adapting content or a product or service for a specific culture or market, and transcreation, a portmanteau of translate and creation, is a form of translation that preserves the original context, emotion, tone and intent. 

Take the boilerplate for example. If a US-headquartered business is issuing a release, the boilerplate, a piece of text that gives info about a company that’s included at the end of releases, will be US-centric. If that’s directly translated, then that’s a missed opportunity.

A better approach would be to tailor the boilerplate to convey the company’s experience and relevance in the target market, which is an example of localisation in practice. The best global marketing language strategies include localised content. 

Localising is a more sophisticated service, but one that creates a release that is more nuanced and attuned to the specific local conditions were it is being disseminated. Find out more about the importance of marketing localisation in this article LINK blog 14.

Streamline the process

Translating or localising releases can be time-consuming, which is why partnering with an expert agency with a wide network of industry experts and solid track-record of impactful release translations can cut down the turnaround time. 

The rewards for getting press release translation and localisation right can be vast: new markets, new clients / consumers, more sales, better brand recognition. Partnering with an expert marketing translation services agency will help you get the most out of your press release. 

To discuss your options for getting your press release translated, get in touch with Into23 today.

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