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  • Writer's pictureAna Catarina Lopes

What is cultural consultancy and why is it so important?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

If you want to succeed in placing your product in international markets, you have to ensure its linguistic and cultural adequacy to your target consumers. Here’s how a cultural consultant will help you to address every aspect of your marketing efforts.

What is cultural consultancy and why is it so important

When thinking about a translator’s work you might imagine that it consists solely of translating words from one language into another. Well, that is only part of the job. A translator also provides an insight into the target language culture, making the texts not only linguistically correct but also culturally adequate and relevant.

This becomes particularly relevant when dealing with marketing projects. Translating marketing contents requires a creative approach, which is why the process is called transcreation.

Transcreation is all about cultural and language aspects, rather than fidelity to the source. Several languages, such as English, Spanish or Portuguese, are spoken in more than one country, and although the language may be similar enough to allow people to understand one another, local culture and lifestyles are not. Also, we cannot overlook the linguistic differences between the multiple variants of the same language: what might sound appealing and glamorous in one country might come across as rude or nonsensical in another.

The stories about brands that failed to succeed in foreign countries due to cultural faux pas, texts that don’t make any sense in the target language or don’t address the intended audience are well known and reflect what can go wrong when you disregard the cultural consultancy step in your projects.

How can a cultural consultant help you?

Usually, a cultural consultant is a linguist, translator, transcreator or writer who has a deep knowledge not only of their working languages but also of the culture, economy, pop culture or other field-specific aspects of the countries involved.

A cultural consultant will provide you with a target market analysis that can be either input regarding the adequacy of a brand or product name or even a thorough check for any registered brands or products with a similar name.

Working closely with you and your team, the cultural consultant will help you set up an effective way to communicate your brand towards the intended audience, avoiding the use of slang, racial, religious, political or gender-related vocabulary that might raise any issues.

Is it just about language?

Not at all. When dealing with the non-verbal aspects of your campaign or brand communication, cultural consultancy is also key to get the results you desire. A cultural consultant will assist you in choosing the right colors, fonts, visual elements and graphics.

How do I know if I need cultural consultancy for my project?

If you work with marketing projects, or with any other type of materials aimed at consumers, hiring a cultural consultant will probably add great value to your work, saving you time and money.

When placing a product in international markets, overlooking cultural and linguistic differences might cost you a lot of money if you need to restructure your whole campaign after the fact, or even negatively affect the product lifespan in those markets.

If you regard cultural consultancy as a redundant step in transcreation, cutting it off to save some time and money, you risk ending up spending that time and money or even more afterwards trying to salvage your campaign. A cultural consultant will help you bridge the gap between markets and help you reach your target audience with culturally adapted content and products.

If you still have questions about this or if you are looking for an English to Portuguese cultural consultant, get in touch!


About the author:

Ana Catarina is an English to Portuguese translator specialized in Healthcare and Marketing. She helps foreign companies to launch their brand and products in the Portuguese market by translating, localizing and transcreating their client-targeted contents to make them appealing to the Portuguese public.


Med & Mark - A blog about medical and marketing translation
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