International business creates opportunities for companies of all sizes.
But it also comes with challenges. The need to communicate in other languages is one of the greatest challenges.
Building a multilingual in-house team is one solution. But for many businesses, hiring a translation agency is more cost-effective. Finding the right translation agency with the capabilities that better matches your needs will guarantee that your translation projects will be performed to satisfaction.
There are many factors that go into deciding which translation agency is right for you. Besides budget and languages served, consider the following capabilities:
It’s not enough for a translation agency to say they can translate from and into English and Spanish. Each of those languages is spoken in many countries and regions, and every region has a dialect. Translation and localization needs to be done right, to assure that your translation is culturally appropriate to your target audience.
English is similar but not the same in America, England, Canada, Australia and other English-speaking countries. Just as there are differences in the Spanish spoken in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Peru.
An agency that has the capacity to translate into even the most niche of dialects can help you connect better with local audiences for your company.
When a dialect is native to the translator the translation is more effective and tuned to your needs. A person’s native language(s) are those that they’ve been continually exposed to and used in childhood.
Of course, this isn’t enough for a person to become certified to translate into and from that language. It does, however, give them a deep understanding of the nuance of the language and its practical use.
Agencies that only use native speakers to work on a translation project are more likely to produce quality and accurate translations.
Every industry has lingo and common practices. Every region has customs. Find an agency that has a solid understanding of the market you are trying to reach.
For example, if you are marketing to engineers, knowing which English acronyms are translated and which are adopted can boost your credibility understanding of the translated material. Or, if you are marketing to women, understanding cultural norms when translating content can prevent costly misunderstandings.
Most translation is text-based. But that isn’t always the case.
Marketing materials, including websites and social media posts, use a lot of imagery. Does your prospective translation agency have the capacity to help “translate” images? Can they offer insights that lead to appropriate imagery alongside translated text?
This can also apply to other design elements such as iconography and color schemes.
Live translation (interpretation) can also be valuable during live or web-based special events. This is especially true if there is audience participation.
If you have extensive marketing translation needs, think about exploring transcreation. Instead of translating from one language to another, the concept of the product drives development in two languages.
Transcreation requires more of an investment than translation. But the results are often more effective at communicating to target language audiences.
How does the agency find, support and evaluate their translators? Key questions to ask are:
It’s common for established agencies to use in-house translators and freelancers. They keep a roster of freelancers for peak times or uncommon languages or dialects.
Translation projects can have many source and supporting documents. Translated content might go back and forth several times during the approval process.
Agencies with a simple and reliable document management system, save everyone’s time. Behind the scenes, you want them to be able to track versions and build a glossary of translated terms.
A glossary specific to your products, services, and organization creates consistency and continuity.
In a perfect world, the same translator(s) would work on your projects every time. But that isn’t always possible.
With a glossary, you get continuity and consistency of service without worry.
Learn a little about an agency’s internal review and quality control processes.
You should expect that at least one other person within the agency reviews the translation before you see it.
Check a translation agency’s references as you would for any other supplier. Ask for references with the same target language(s) and dialects as you.
Whenever possible, you want to speak to the person who had the most contact about the translation. Ask about the ease of communication and adherence to deadlines. Ask if the end-product was well-received by its intended audience.
If you have many target languages, ensure that translators always use the original source content.
Small or new agencies can sometimes have a limited language-pair capacity and translate from translations.
Let’s say you want to translate English to Dutch and German. The language pairing should be English-Dutch and English-German not English-Dutch and Dutch-German.
When you first do business in a new country, you don’t know the range of content you’ll need translated. You might begin with marketing materials but soon find that you also need legal documents and training guides translated.
It’s also common to have complex projects and urgent requests.
Look for an agency with experience managing complex projects. You also want them to be able to respond to last-minute translations.
If you have long-term plans to do business in other languages, working with an agency with a track record for building strong customer relationships could save you much time and money.
Look for an agency that is responsive to its clients needs and respects constraints. Find an agency that understands your business. In many ways, a translation agency is your partner. Strong, positive partnerships lead to greater chance of success.
Trust is the cornerstone of the relationship between a business and translation agency. You, as a business professional, count on accurate and appropriate translation. If the content is proprietary, you also expect confidentiality.
Take the time to find the right agency for your translation needs. Your business depends on it.
If you have any questions about how translation agencies work, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think we might be the right fit for your organization, contact us for a free quote.