“I know all those words, but that sentence makes no sense to me.”
― Matt Groening
If you’re running marketing campaigns that are targeted at customers in multiple geographies, the cost of professional translation can prompt some marketing managers to look for cheap alternatives, such as free online translation services.
But as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Using a free service may seem like a quick win, but consider the potential cost to your company’s confidentiality, brand messaging and reputation.
Did you know every time you use Google Translate, your data is saved and used as source material to replicate in future translations? So before you ‘share’ information about your company with Google, and everyone else on the planet, weigh up the potential confidentiality risk.
Accuracy is also a critical consideration. Google freely admits that it makes errors. Ashish Venugopal, a research scientist at Google, explained why translation errors happen. “Translation errors are easy to solve if we have a lot of data about the language. Some languages have a lot, some have less,” he said. “The mistakes happen when there’s a language with too little data, and then the program is forced to make a guess based on what it knows – which of course doesn’t necessarily produce the best result.”
Inaccurate translation can be costly. HSBC bank’s tagline “Assume Nothing” was mistranslated as “Do Nothing” in various countries. It was a big joke in the media, but HSBC wasn’t laughing when it had to launch a $10 million rebranding campaign to repair the damage done to its reputation.
Poorly translated sales material and product information sends the wrong message to potential customers or partners. They may question the quality of your products. If you don’t care enough to do a good translation, customers might wonder if you care about service and satisfaction. Legal problems could arise if injury or damage occurs as a result of unclear or incorrect instructions.
Good marketing needs to be clear, compelling and consistent, in all languages. Automated translation misses important nuances in the source language, which can make good original material completely miss the mark.
If your company’s products and services cross borders, good translation by native speakers with a feel for your subject will help you to achieve the right visibility in global target markets.
You wouldn’t let a computer program write your marketing copy or technical manuals, so don’t trust one to interpret your content for overseas customers.
You might come unglued – or was that ‘unstuck’?
Sparkling Lengua is an AD Communications partner agency specialising in translation and transcreation for B2B clients.