Why translate? A few weeks ago we received the following email from one of our regular clients:
Let me tell you that although you may feel far removed from the document’s key purpose, please know that your work is probably helping thousands. For example, that instruction manual you laboured over a few weeks ago… well, it will ensure that its user will know how to operate a piece of equipment properly and safely. The legal contract that landed on your desk last minute on a Friday evening, due Monday… well, it will help someone understand the terms of a contract before they sign it. And all those game-related strings in XML or Excel! Yikes! Well, those help, too. They make people enjoy a game in their own language and have some fun.
Translation is omnipresent, really, and it is one of these industries that rarely gets recognized, so give yourselves a little kudos for the important work you do!
Aaw! At first, I thought sweet.
But then it made me think… It made me think about why translate all the things we translate day in day out.
Why Translate? – 5 Good Reasons
It made me think more about the purpose of what we do, who we serve and how we can benefit our customers. Our client was right – our work rarely gets the recognition that it deserves but it does not mean our clients don’t benefit from our work. So why translate? – I ask myself. Why our clients come back asking us to translate another project for them. Maybe because they see an added value to the products or services they offer or maybe they understand they are required by law to meet certain legal obligations such as Health & Safety or Equality and Diversity or maybe they simply appreciate the fact that reaching more markets translates into more sales. Below are just a few answers to the ‘why translate’ question – a few reasons why businesses translate their content.
- Increase sales. Most businesses see a simple cause and effect relationship between their content being localised into different languages and an increase in sales as a direct result of that. They understand why translating their website or marketing leaflets is so important to their business and recognise the need for this type of investment. Some other examples of the content business usually translate to get more sales include manuals, product descriptions, adverts, marketing videos and promotional articles.
- Reach new markets. At a certain point, many large companies start thinking about taking their business to the next level – they make the decision to go global. It may seem like an obvious choice for many large enterprises and they put a lot of effort into preparing financially for this step. Unfortunately, not all large companies understand the communication hurdles awaiting them in the process of expanding their business activity. Not only this, simply translating all your content into the target language(s) does not usually solve the problem either. What these businesses may not know is that they will need professional localisation services which will take into account all the cultural differences and nuances between the local and the host country.
- Meet certain legal obligations. OK, this should be pretty straightforward. One of the most obvious reasons why businesses translate is the law. They simply feel they have to make at least some of their documentation accessible to all their staff and customers. Some examples of this may include company policies and regulations, employment agreements, disciplinary procedures, employee handbooks, operating manuals and so on.
- Add value. Another reason why we translate is to add value to the products and services that our clients offer. A product description or a manual that has been localised and adapted to the local market will be perceived by the local community as having a higher value. It will also make this particular product or service easier to sell when exported to new markets. In many cases, it may also be a legal requirement of the local market to have them localised in the first place long before they are even allowed to be distributed in the host country.
- Boost brand awareness. Last but not least, businesses translate because they want to boost their brand awareness. By localising their products and services, they understand that they will gain more exposure and will inevitable serve as a driving force for their marketing efforts. What better way to find new customers if not through word of mouth among customers who are happy with what you offer simply because they feel that you care about their language needs and appreciate the barriers they may be facing?
So why translate? I think the client we quoted above has nailed it – in the end, it is all about helping your end users better understand as well as fully enjoy the products or the services they have purchased. After all, who wants to eat ‘Factory Cheese’ or have their bottom measured on their next trip to Japan.
Please comment below if you have seen direct benefits of outsourcing your translation needs or have experienced problems resulting from a communication barrier between the customer and the manufacturer or the service provider. We’d love to hear from you…