Since you’ve found this article, you probably know that Video Marketing is one of the most important tools for marketing and sales. Videos can be watched and understood all over the world. But there are a few important countries that deserve a translation, and Germany is one of them. Why? Read more to find out!
- Why you should translate your video into German
- Be aware of different German dialects
- Why you shouldn’t translate to German 1 to 1
- Change the tonality to fit the German market
- Double the language, double the views
- Don’t be satisfied with “Native Germans”
Why you should translate your video into German
Germany is one of the biggest economies in the world. Not only in terms of industry and export, but also in terms of entertainment. Because of that, Germany has always been one of the few countries to translate and dub every media, leading even to weird cases where voice actors are more famous than the original actor (e.g. Bruce Willis and Eddie Murphy).
On average, Germans understand quite a good piece of english. But especially in the classic industrial branches, decision-makers are still 50+. So, in order to reach the German market and people, you’re better off translating and/or dubbing your videos.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to do it right:
Be aware of different German dialects
You might have heard it already: Germany has some variations to the standard German languages, up to a point where one part cannot understand the other (seriously!). The internationally most known dialects are Bavarian (due to the Munich Octoberfest) and “Kölsch” (like the beer, spoken and drunken in Cologne).
While it’s not important to know (less to understand) them all, it’s still important to know when to use them and when to avoid them.
In most cases, it’s best to use the standard German language. Every German will understand it and it’s the professional way to go. When using dialects, you’re bound to that specific region. At the same time, it can create a more personal feeling to your video. For example, Bavarian (or Kölsch) beer commercials almost always use the specific dialect, as do regional farming or dairy products. But most industrial services, especially B2B, should always aim for standard German.
The worst thing you surely want to avoid is that people think you’re using the dialect to be funny and incorporate the German tradition. That’s something Germans don’t like at all. So our recommendation: use the standard German language unless you’re 100% sure your video can profit from a German dialect.
Why you shouldn’t translate to German 1 to 1
You probably figured it occasionally: Different languages have different traits and meanings. Just don’t translate word by word. Please! I would say in 90% of the cases, it’s not possible to translate a sentence word by word. Sometimes it’s just one word that’s off, but the result is always the same: it doesn’t feel natural.
So how to avoid that? Grab the meaning of your sentence and translate that meaning into a German sentence. Don’t pay attention to the words you used in the English sentence. Or even better: Hire a german Professional! (Like us! 😉 )
Also, here’s the good news: Since Germany is so eager to translate every piece of entertainment, there are a lot of skilled professionals who are very good at their jobs.
The power of words
It’s also very important to know that specific words and phrases might be strong in English, but are weak in the German language. So, to make sure your sentence has the same effect after translation, you have to find German words that are equally strong.
But how do you know whether a german word is strong or not? Find out what German companies use in their advertisement – or ask people who work in the German business.
Change the tonality to fit the German market
While there are clearly differences in the language, there’s also a big difference in the mentality and culture of Germany to other countries. That’s why German ads are not the same as, for example, American ads.
The main difference and the most important one is the tonality of the ads, representing the attitude. So the way the ad communicates to the viewers. Germans value decency, modesty and honesty, and instinctively distrust loud and catchy phrases that sound too good to be true.
This attitude also translates to the business. Therefore, it’s not only important to understand the way Germans speak, it’s also crucial to also know the German business market.
The German way of thinking
So how do Germans think? There’s one thing that made it pretty obvious for me. I was on an American plane back to Germany when the Captain made an announcement, addressing the American travellers saying: “When you’re shopping in Germany and the workers won’t offer their help or don’t ask how your day has been, that’s not because they’re impolite, it’s just the German way.”
So, are Germans impolite? If you’re American and are used to being greeted and smiled at as soon as you enter a shop, you could say yes! Because that’s the American way.
But German people, at least most of them, are rather annoyed when offered unwanted help in a shop. They like to shop by themselves and only ask for help if they need it. That’s just the German way.
But on the other hand: There’s a lot of honesty. If a German asks how you are, he doesn’t just want to hear “good” and move on. He wants to really know how your day has been and how you’re feeling. – A trait a lot of Americans would feel offended by.
So, what does that mean for the tonality of your video? Clearly not statements like “Go figure it out yourself then”. But being slightly less pushy and more focused on the brain than the heart will make a big difference for your video.
The importance of the right topics
It’s not often the case that topics are less important for the German business market, but we want to mention it. We already had clients who wanted specific topics changed for the translation because in their market, no one really cared about it.
Understanding the needs and problems of the German market for the product you’re offering compared to your national market is making it easier to use the right topics.
Double the language, double the views
Content aside, let’s talk about your market reach for a second. You’ll probably upload and host your videos (no matter the language) online. Maybe on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook or native on your homepage. Having two languages also means having two videos, thus doubling your content and potential market reach. It allows you to use different keywords and funnel new customers.
Don’t be satisfied with “Native Germans”
If you want to make sure that your translation is done well, a great way – and the most common one – is to have it read by native Germans. Mostly copywriters, agents or simply people who’ve grown up speaking both German and English.
But we also recommend that you search for people who are really working in the German economy. That way, they know your specific market and have experience with the way people think. In doing so, you can ensure that your video and content is translated and understood the right way.
Also, it’s important to have your text recorded in a professional studio in Germany, preferably by a well-known voice actor. As mentioned before, Germans are very picky when it comes to their beloved voice actors. Therefore, choosing the right one might make all the difference for you.
You could search for a good audio production or voice actor’s agency. Or you can simply contact us, and we’ll not only provide access to our skilled translators and german copywriters, but also to all the best voice actors, agencies and recording studios in Germany.
Give us a call or leave a message (no worries, we’ll answer in English) – we’re looking forward to working with you.
So, all in all, translating your videos into other languages always gives you the opportunity to reach more people with your content. Germany is the land of dubbing, and therefore has a very well developed structure of translation studios. Be careful when and when not to use dialects and always translate your texts by meaning, not by words. Finally: Considering the possibility of spreading your videos on the German market might be the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors, and really could be your road to success.