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Hoi An, Vietnam

Professional translation in a business context

A luxury you can do without or an integral part of your marketing strategy?

Posted 25 June 2020

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In today’s day and age, basic translation is something that can be accessed very easily. Websites can be translated instantly through applications like Google Translate at the click of a button. Machine translation is improving daily and the number of languages offered is expanding. Automation of laborious tasks will continue to grow and there will be benefits in terms of efficiency and cost savings from a business point of view. So, where does this leave professional translations services?

Free translation tools have a place, but you shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security when using them. If you understand both their capabilities and limitations, they are an excellent commodity in some situations; great for getting the gist of messages and emails, or large volumes of non-critical data. What they cannot replace though is the highly skilled work of the trained human translator for any document or text requiring authentic language quality.

The clickbait strategy – don’t give in to temptation. Nothing is ever free!

“Get your free widget to translate your website into 20 languages”.

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? So many benefits at no cost. You get to communicate with a potential international customer base in 20 different languages. Hold that thought for a moment. What’s the catch? Since when does any company give anything away for free?

professional translations

What you need to consider

Walk the steps of your customer journey through a visit to your own website. If your product or service is at the high-fashion/luxury end of the market, for example, the wording, style and imagery are vital to your brand’s ethos and your customer will have heightened expectations. If those expectations aren’t met, your message is lost and the brand’s image will be dented. It’s likely you’ve all been there yourself, as a consumer, and you know how that journey ends… No sale… Next vendor, please!

If you were looking to buy a luxury watch for example, how would you feel if you read something like this:

only the man pressed himself restless,” Who is the motto from Goethe’s “Faust”, sees even the smallest of life breaks the incentive to do great things. So exhausted the most indefatigable of all tenors of over 3,500 acclaimed performances again and again force for the extraordinary. Ongoing passion, One of the greatest virtues of man”. 

This is an extract from a website of an international luxury brand that’s been run through a free translation tool. In reality, the luxury watch brand has a beautifully written English site, which has been localised professionally and therefore gives a reassuring message to potential buyers that they are investing in a quality item that reflects their ideal lifestyle. Marketing texts are notoriously difficult to translate as they are not just about words, but concepts and feelings. Poorly translated materials could be damaging to your brand as they do not get across the original intended message and sentiment.

As machines have no emotions, they can’t convey human experiences or tell compelling stories in the way that a human wordsmith can. Marketing translations are an art, with concepts and words that have to be crafted in a unique way for each product, and in each individual language. Mass production just won’t work and applying free translation tools will have that effect.

Rise of the machines – a game changer but only when used in the right context

Google Translate has a lot of benefits; it gives people access to information they wouldn’t otherwise have. It’s constantly updated in real-time by the people who use it all over the world. Machine translation is also a useful tool. It gets better and better as databases, known as “engines”, are continuously trained and new corpora added. Machine translation is currently best suited to technical translations and documents where sentences are short. When sentences are more complex or metaphorical, the algorithms are unlikely to work well, leading to poor or even unintelligible translations.

Although a luxury product has been given as an example above, the same principle applies to everyday products. A price tag doesn’t always determine a product’s quality or benefit. Whether high-end or low-cost, consumers have expectations, and cutting corners by using free translation technology will not cut it with them. There are no real shortcuts when it comes to marketing your brand in another language. If you’re entering a foreign market for the first time, you’ll be starting from scratch, dealing with a different culture and new competitors too.

Can you afford to gamble with poor quality translations? The simple answer is a resounding ‘No’ if you’re trying to win the hearts and minds of new customers the world over. Professional translations may seem like a luxury or an unnecessary overhead, but they will pay off over time, and making the effort to get it right… first-time round… is a far better strategy and is a compelling reason why translation should be included in any savvy company’s marketing budget.

Don’t fall foul of a clickbait strategy – contact real translators through a professional translation agency – contact us!

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