The Importance of Accurate Translation in Business
In an era defined by globalisation, successfully navigating language barriers can make or break a business. With the rise of multilingualism, the significance of accurate translation in business is growing exponentially. Today, we will dissect the world of translation in business, exploring its importance, the types required, ways to assess accuracy, and potential fallout from inaccuracies.
Why is Accurate Translation Important for Businesses?
Why is accurate translation important for businesses? Said no actual business owner ever! As you may have already gleaned from your experiences as a business owner, effective communication forms the bedrock of successful business transactions. In the expanding landscape of international business, this translates to communicating in multiple languages with pinpoint accuracy. Inaccuracies can spark misunderstandings, harm relationships, and ultimately, dent profitability. But what makes accurate translation so vital?
- Cultural Sensitivity.
- Clarity & Consistency.
- Legal Compliance.
- Business Expansion
- Facilitating Collaborations.
As a business owner, you need to understand that translation is not a mere exercise of word-to-word replacement; business translation requires a deep understanding of cultural nuances and social norms that if ignored, can prove fatal for your business.
Did you know that Apple once translated the ‘7’ in the slogan for the then-new iPhone 7 - “This is 7”, to mean “tsat”; a slang for male genitalia in Cantonese? Yes, even a big corporation like Apple could not escape from the clutches of inaccurate translations. Although the translation was altered, the deed was already done. Some businesses may never survive such a hit.
Clarity and Consistency
Precise translation assures clarity and consistency in communicating your business’s values, strategies, and offerings, fostering trust with your international clientele. For the unity of the brand, it is important that your international customer base is getting the same messaging fundamentally. Of course, it may not be the exact same thing, due to cultural nuances, but at the foundation, it has to be uniform. Your customers (internationally & locally) need to be able to identify your business (brand) anywhere they come across it, this helps to build trust in the brand. A good example of this is Coca-Cola, they may create different ads or campaigns, but their message is still the same, wherever you see a Coca-Cola campaign, you will most likely recognize them by their colour or their unique ad style or font.
As businesses grow and expand into international markets, they often have to navigate a maze of complex laws, regulations, and legal agreements. In this context, accurate translation is not just desirable but crucial to maintaining legal compliance and reducing risk.
As a small business, you may not concern yourself with international laws yet, why should you? You keep the local laws governing your business, and you are fine. But when you start to expand, you need to also explore how to be on the good side of the law in all the countries you are expanding to. That doesn’t sound fun, right? If you think that sounds like a headache, what will you think about Apple (The tech giant) going after the image rights for Apple (the fruit)?
In the past, they have gone after brands for using “Apples” on card games, for featuring a fictional character called “Dr Apples” on a podcast, and now they are going after a farmer’s organization in Switzerland that uses the picture of an apple as its logo. Imagine that!
Sometimes, the difference between whether a business breaks even in international waters or not is in how they are perceived by international partners, customers and collaborators. Accurate translation plays a pivotal role in business expansion, particularly when venturing into international markets. As a business scales and crosses national boundaries, it encounters diverse cultures, languages, and market dynamics. Here's where accurate translation can act as a critical growth enabler.
Imagine launching a product or service in a new country. You would be surprised to know that success in this endeavour depends not just on the quality of the product or service, but also on how well its value proposition is communicated to the local audience. This is where translation comes into play. An accurately translated product description, marketing campaign, or customer testimonial can convey the intended message effectively, facilitating customer engagement, sales, and business growth.
Forging successful collaborations and partnerships across borders is a key growth strategy. Here, accurate translation becomes a linchpin, helping bridge language barriers and foster strong, productive collaborations.
Picture this - your business is pursuing a partnership with a foreign company. The negotiation process will likely involve a series of communication exchanges, sharing of business plans, legal agreements, and more. If these materials are not accurately translated, it can lead to misunderstandings, impeding the negotiation process and potentially jeopardizing the partnership.
Accurate translation also enables knowledge sharing between entities from different linguistic backgrounds. Consider industries like technology or pharmaceuticals, where breakthroughs and innovations occur frequently. Accurate translation of research findings, technical documents, and patents can facilitate the sharing and proliferation of knowledge, leading to more innovative and effective collaborations.
Types of Translations Businesses may Need
Different industries have unique translation needs with requirements varying based on operations and the nature of transactions.
- Certified/Sworn/Official translation: Depending on the location where it is required, this type of translation is called different names around the world. It is known as ‘sworn translation’ in Germany, ‘certified translation’ in the US & ‘official translation’ in France. Essentially, these 3 translations mean the same thing. These kinds of translations are needed in official situations, when dealing with administrative bodies/institutions and when dealing with governments. Official translations may be required when you’re trying to register your business in a country that does not speak the same language as that which your documents are issued in, it might be needed when you are trying to get patent rights for an innovation, when you want to get travel documents for business travels or even when the company needs authorization for importation or exportation of products.
- Legal Translation: Legal translations are closely linked with certified translations, This includes translating documents like contracts, court decisions, statutes, and other legal proceedings. An in-depth understanding of the legal systems of both the source and target languages is a must to ensure that the translation is done accurately.
- Medical Translation: Accurate translations are in demand in the medical industry, just like in other industries. While AI is helping medicine reduce its boundaries, medical translation is similarly making healthcare accessible to everyone, regardless of their language. In medicine, accurate translations can benefit medical reports, clinical studies, and pharmaceutical documents - these materials demand an exceptionally high degree of accuracy considering that the safety and health of the recipients are on the line.
- Marketing Translation: This involves tweaking marketing content for different languages, and capturing cultural nuances to resonate with the target audience. This type of translation is very broad. And involves things like localizing your website, HR materials & translating marketing materials (brochures, ads, campaigns, social media) etc. As your business goes digital, translating your marketing materials into the languages of your target markets can dramatically broaden your international reach.
How can Businesses Assess Accurate Translations?
In all fairness, it might be difficult for you to assess if a translation is accurate or not, that is why you should hire a professional translation service, rather than using tools like Google translate that may not be able to capture the essence of your message across all languages.
As we have shown, business translation is more than a word-for-word interpretation of a document. We will show you how you can determine if your translations are accurate or not.
- Back-translation: This technique involves getting a second translator to translate the document back into the original language it was translated from. If you spot any discrepancies between the two versions, then that is a red flag on the accuracy of the initial translation.
- Translation Quality Assessment (TQA): This is a systematic approach that involves a series of checks and revisions by expert linguists, TQA checks for linguistic correctness, appropriateness of style and tone, and cultural appropriateness. Translayte, in order to assure quality has been incorporating technology in its processes, by using AI to ensure that all translations are contextually correct and free of errors. We call this “AI-powered perfection”!
- Hiring Professional Translation Services: Also, hiring a translation agency like Translayte can ensure quality, as our services combine the best of human effort and technological innovation to ensure accurate translation. While our stringent quality control finishes the delivery.
- Due Diligence: As much as you can outsource your translations, you also need to go over translations when you receive them to ensure there are no errors. Businesses must verify that the translated content effectively communicates the original meaning. Any deviation can misrepresent the message, leading to potential misunderstandings. Next, an examination of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors is critical. These can make the text appear unprofessional, and in some cases, even change the intended meaning.
Additionally, businesses need to ensure that translations adhere to the proper conventions for measurements, dates, and addresses. This is particularly crucial in industries like logistics, construction, or any field that heavily relies on these details for daily operations.
The style and tone of the source materials should be preserved in the translation. For instance, if the original content is written in a formal tone, a casual tone in the translated version could lead to confusion or misinterpretation.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the translation should take the culture of the language into consideration. Culturally inappropriate or insensitive content can offend the target audience and harm the company's reputation.
Consequences of Innacurate Translation?
Missteps in translation can have far-reaching effects, especially in the business world. How so?
- Reputation Damage: Remember the example about Apple that we mentioned earlier? A smaller company may not survive such a mistake. That’s a prime example of how translation errors can make a company appear unprofessional, impacting its reputation.
- Financial Loss: Miscommunication due to inaccurate translation can lead to costly blunders, failed business deals, or even lawsuits. In some instances, this may even necessitate product recalls, inflicting significant financial loss.
- Loss of Trust: A mistranslation, particularly in marketing, can misrepresent a product or service. This can lead to a drop in customer trust and loyalty - a price no business wants to pay.
In our hyper-connected global village, accurate translation is not an extravagance but a necessity for businesses with an eye on international markets. It’s not merely about swapping words from one language to another; it's about cultural sensitivity, clear communication, and risk management. Translayte, with its cadre of expert linguists and rigorous quality control measures, stands ready to provide you with precise, culturally sensitive translations that meet your business needs. Ready to make your mark on the global stage? Contact us to get started.