Our client, a popular jeans and sportswear brand, came to Scriptis for English copywriting followed by French translation for the Canadian market. Since 2020, Scriptis has translated retail content for the parent company, a leading global apparel and accessories company with a portfolio of licensed and owned brands. As the preferred translation provider for some of the largest retailers in Canada, the in-house Scriptis team regularly translates English product descriptions into lively, compelling French. And, as a full-service language partner specializing in retail, Scriptis also provides English-language copywriting.
As we’ve explained elsewhere, global languages such as English, French, and Spanish are not used uniformly around the globe. Regional differences in terminology, grammar, and spelling are even more pronounced in the realm of consumer goods. From a global retailer’s point of view, the same technical or internal content might be fine for use in different countries. However, customer-facing content needs to incorporate the popular terms used by regional audiences, and it needs to communicate an appealing and distinctive brand personality as well. Our customer needed a team with the right skillsets for creating marketing content to appeal to Canadians in both English and French.
A second challenge posed by this type of project has to do with the turnaround time. The client required batches of product descriptions at a fast pace. The tempo of retail communications leaves very little flexibility. The client needed a language partner with a strong reputation for delivering accurate, compelling bilingual content while meeting tight deadlines.
An essential first step for onboarding a new retail client is to gather as much information about the brand personality as possible. Style guides, glossaries, and samples of marketing content used in the past are all useful. These are the building blocks for a client-specific termbase: a bilingual glossary that lists a brand’s favored English terminology and provides its French equivalents. Translators use the termbase to ensure consistent usage across all content. In product descriptions, a particular item or feature might be offered by many different brands. However, each brand might describe it differently to reflect the brand personality. For this reason, our team would never use the same termbase for different clients in the same industry.
The termbase becomes the foundation for the translation memory. Professional translators use tools to save source content together with its target translation in a bilingual database. Once established, the translation memory assists the translator by confirming terminology and recognizing and auto-filling repeated or boilerplate phrases. Beyond its utility in a single project, where phrases may be repeated across several sections, the translation memory provides an invaluable resource for updates and future projects.
After onboarding, for each new batch of product descriptions, the client provided general descriptions of the type of article, types of fabrics, and color codes. Most importantly, they provided images of the clothing and accessories for their online listings. Our English-language copywriters chose the correct keywords and phrases to create descriptions to capture the spirit of the collection and express the personality of the brand. These English product descriptions were then reviewed and approved by the brand manager on the client’s side.
Once approved, our in-house team translated the product descriptions into French. The translators also used the product images for reference and ensured that the French terms describing color and fit were also consistent with the brand personality. Unlike technical translation, marketing translation allows the translator a great deal more creative flexibility. This type of work is sometimes called transcreation because of the creative writing skills required of the translators.
For this project, coordination between the client’s brand manager and the Scriptis team paid off. As of this writing, Scriptis has completed several English copywriting and French translation projects to showcase seasonal collections for the bilingual online marketplace. We hope to work with this client, and with their parent company, for many years to come.
The project succeeded because of responsive project management, strong writing and translation skills, and clear communication between our team and our client. Longtime clients have stayed with us for many reasons, not the least of which is the consistent quality provided by our seasoned in-house translators. Scriptis never loses sight of the “human in the loop” – the skilled, experienced individuals at the center of everything we do.