If attempted, literal translations of English messages into Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, and Malay will prove to your Asian audience that your company is out of touch, careless, incompetent, or at bare minimum lacking the resources to adequately address their market expectations and personal considerations.
Transcreation is the process of translating a core message, and peripheral messaging to a specific cross-cultural market, taking into account culture, history, emotion, values, traditions, and social-demographic constructs. It ignores every aspect of literal meaning, first deconstructing each component of a message and related communications / response intentions, then reconstructing the central message aimed at the target market or audience, strictly from a marketability standpoint. Transcreation aims to evoke a response in the cross-cultural market similar to the response in the native market, maintaining brand symmetry where possible, but always placing sustainable profitability above brand centrality.
The first step in the transcreation marketing objective is to remove cultural connotations and implications from the source language. Maintaining conceptual integrity in a message may or may not benefit the outcome message. Many international marketing agencies produce word-for-word translations, which utilize a more mechanical approach, and while this may suffice to generate a positive response from certain markets, there is a far greater degree of value achieved in generating a transcreational message that produces a more genuinely positive response, more powerful first impressions, and brands that are far better positioned, in culture-appropriate context, for sustainable growth.
Cultural differences between the various Asian cultures are vast and complex. China alone has over 500 different cultures with widely variant dialects and social norms. Specialized marketing, to include copywriting, narrative construction, imagery, and linguistic strategy can give your company and its respective products and services a significant advantage right out of the gate.