What are the potential risks of a bad translation?

Idea TranslationsBest PracticesWhat are the potential risks of a bad translation?
Bad Translations

Any company mature enough to expand at a global level understands that no decision taken during the process to enter new markets should be taken lightly. However, some organizations still choose to translate their content looking only at the price. These organizations decide to use machine translation tools, internal resources with no formal training or experience in translation or freelancers, without assessing the potential risks of these decisions.

How can a bad translation impact a business seeking to expand?

Choose a Holistic Approach

The first step for any company is to define the target audience. One of the priorities is to translate in a way that is consistent with the social and cultural context of the people we are trying to reach. The translation process is not simply replacing a word with another; it requires experience and expertise that only professionals can provide, as well as a deep understanding of the target market.

In US companies, the bounce rate is 85% higher on websites with typos.
Source: WebsitePlanet

A poor translation is not only a waste of time and money; it also impacts the satisfaction and experience of potential clients: ambiguous content, unintelligible text and lack of consideration for specific idiomatic characteristics drive people away from your organization and reduce your brand value in international markets.

Bad Translations: A Risk for your Brand

Before choosing the cheapest option, it is important to be aware of the real cost of a poor translation:

Misinterpretation. Machine translation and inexperienced translators are unable to provide accurate localization of content and may result in confusing messages. This may be risky, particularly if your company provides content targeted at specific industries that require high levels of accuracy.

On the other hand, oversimplification, omission and over translation may result in misinterpretation or a message that the target audience is unable to understand. When translating texts and documents, inexperienced translators may discretionally omit information because they deem it redundant, or add words or phrases that were not present in the source content, which may have a negative impact on the value of a certain content, particularly complex content, such as technical and scientific papers.

Reduced Sales. Some expressions may be perfectly adequate in a region, and be considered offensive in others. Therefore, if your goal is to gain new clients, your translation must show a deep knowledge of the culture and conventions of the target language. Otherwise, a product or service may result in loss or fail to produce revenue, as compared to competitors who applied the required due diligence to their translation efforts.

Negative Impact on Branding. If potential clients have bad experiences and find frequent typos or grammatical errors, the company will likely lose credibility and trust, and the relation with the prospect will start off badly. In a highly competitive and globalized market, a great organization that chose poorly their translation strategy may portray their brand as unprofessional which is difficult stain to erase. Very often that single error can cause an otherwise great product or service to lose markets.

Economic Loss and Penalties. A bad translation may end up requiring more resources and more time to correct and rework the content, and this in turn may delay the launch of a new product or abruptly change a carefully planned marketing campaign. In addition to delays and errors, inadvertently offensive or derogatory language may injure the dignity of a community or marginalized group, which would damage the company’s reputation and good standing.

A Positive Brand: The Key to Growth

Knowing and assessing the potential risks of a poor translation allows organizations to save resources and focus on growth. Good communication is one of the best assets for continuous expansion: the message we send to potential clients should be carefully crafted.

In this sense, we need to be able to trust professionals to interpret the messages, understand their context and reformulate them according to the relevant needs and applicable scenarios. After all, the end users of a translation will determine the success or failure of a business’ scalability efforts.