Approaching foreign markets and international, multilingualconsumers has never been easier than it is today. Even with some political uncertainty and a looming ‘Brexit’, UK based businesses and organisations still seem to be fairly confident in expanding onto the overseas territories and targeting potential customers who speak a different language. Nonetheless – regardless the size of a company, the sector it trades in or the market it wishes to target, accurately translating the content and business materials is an essential part of any successful international expansion plan now, and will become even more significant in 2020.
Although it may appear to be a fairly straightforward task at first, translating business materials for an international expansion of a company or an organisation isn’t as easy as it seems, and neither is choosing the best way to go about it.
In reality, a business wishing to target foreign audiences has 3 basic options when it comes to translating their content, and these are:
- Working with a translation agency
- Using free online tools, such as Google Translate
- Working with freelance linguists
Each of the above choices has its own benefits and drawbacks – some are better for personal use, whilst others are recommended for businesses and the translation of corporate materials. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of these choices individually, hoping to help you in choosing just the right option for you and the particular requirements your business might have.
Working with a translation agency
Working directly with a translation agency has always been the most popular choice amongst professional UK businesses when it comes to translating or interpreting their corporate content. Although slightly more expensive than working with freelance translators, it guarantees a number of benefits such as streamlined workflow, accuracy or sector expertise – each of which is essential within the business environment.
An officially registered translation agency will be able to not only provide translations directly in all of the languages you require, but will also ensure that they are conducted by a language expert who is not only a native speaker of the target language, but also fully understands your particular business sector. This is an extremely important benefit of directly working with translation agencies as it guarantees that any sector specific jargon or lingo will also be accurately adapted.
There are several translation agenciesin the United Kingdom alone that specialise in language translation services for the business sector and corporate clients. Based in London – Language Reach, or London Translation Services both cover a wide range of languages and sectors. In addition to translations, these agencies also offer additional language services such as interpreting or transcreation. Other agencies such as ‘LanguagePro’ or ‘Lingo24’ with main officed located elsewhere in the United Kingdom can also cover a number of languages including Asian, African, European or Middle Eastern. Nonetheless, whichever of these translation companies you decide to work with, you can rest assured that the quality of their services will be some of highest in the industry.
Working with translation agencies can also be very time efficient in comparison to freelance translators. If, for example, your business requires translations into several languages, the agency will deal with this on their side and so your work can be streamlined and efficiently delivered when ready. Working with freelancers would mean that you will have to individually find linguists who are able to translate into each of your target languages and who additionally understand your sector, and then deal with them as separate entities, which can be very time-consuming.
Using free online tools, such as Google Translate
Free online tools such as Google Translator have come a very long way in the last few years. Today, due to their powerful AI engines and deep-learning software, they are able to accurately translate even complex materials in the matter of seconds, for free.
Nonetheless, they are still considered perfect for personal use, rather than business. In a competitive corporate world, even a small mistake in the translation can be harmful for your company’s image – especially in markets where culture and customs both play a significant role, such as Asia or the Middle East.
Another downside of such tools is that they lack human creativity and a specific sector knowledge. For marketing materials such as websites or brochures, the content often must be not only translated, but also carefully localised to ensure cultural sensitivity. Machine translations aren’t able to do just that.
Working with freelance linguists
Working with freelance translators can be a great alternative to working directly with translation agencies, especially for smaller companies with limited budgets. Such linguists are able to accurately translate your materials and carefully localise the content. Some of them might also have a first-hand experience within your particular business area.
Nonetheless, saving money comes at a price – and the price you’ll have to pay is time. If your company requires translations into several different languages, you will personally have to find appropriate, experienced linguists for each of the languages, and this is not an easy task.
Additionally, as you may not speak any of the target languages yourself, you’ll simply have to trust that the person who translated your materials did a good job. Alternatively, you may get an additional proof-reader to ensure that the quality of the translation is high and that the language used is appropriate for business, but this will definitely increase the total costs and extend deadlines, especially for larger projects.
Which translation service should you choose –a summary
As you can see, choosing the best translation service isn’t a straightforward task. Each of the above options has its own advantages and disadvantages. Although working with a translation agency is the most expensive out of them, it guarantees accuracy, cultural adaptation and is the most time-efficient, especially for translation projects requiring several languages. Freelance translators are the cheaper option, and so they might be ideal for smaller businesses, nonetheless, the business owner will have to find the appropriate linguists themselves and this can be a very time-consuming process without any guarantees when it comes to the reliability and accuracy of the translation itself. Free machine translation tools such as ‘Google Translate’ are ideal for strictly personal use.
The best method of translating may depend on the size of your company, budget allocated for the task as well as the market and customer you wish to target. The type of material you are translating is also key to determine how to go about translating it.
For example, an internal memo distributed only within the company itself and used strictly for informative purposes can usually be translated using free tools as any mistakes within the translationwon’t affect your company’s image and the message will still be understood by employees or colleagues. Websites, marketing materials or legal documents on the other hand simply should be professionally translated by alinguist, and more preferably, an expert agency which guarantees accuracy.