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The translation journey

From start-up to multinational and everywhere in between: the translation journey

A company that wants to go from start-up to multinational with dozens of offices around the world will inevitably have to add translation as part of an international marketing strategy. But the translation process looks very different if you’re a startup with a few employees or if you’re a huge company with offices all around the world.

Between a start-up who wants to expand internationally and attract new prospects in different countries and a multinational looking to convey the same message in all the countries it serves, things are not done the same way, do not cost the same and do not take the same time to complete.

For a start-up that is only present in its home country, having a website translated might be a good way to establish brand awareness in the target market and attract potential new clients. In this case, we’re talking about companies that still have few employees and probably no one in-house dedicated to translation management. So it’s essential to take time in selecting your translator. Since you are new to this field, you will need someone who can effectively deliver translations tailored to your target market, someone who can create the first glossary and guide you through the whole process. Having someone in-house who can judge of the quality of the translations would be great, although not always feasible. In this phase, the translation process is highly externalized and the translator will often act as a consultant to help out in choosing certain terminology, to decide what content is best to translate first etc. At this stage, companies typically choose to have their website and select marketing material translated (confirmation emails, welcome email, brochures, etc).

Since start-ups are by definition agile and can move faster than larger organizations, my feeling is that working with a freelance translator is a great way to start. With a freelancer, you can make decisions faster, there are less people involved and you have more control over what is being done.

Let’s move on a few years, and imagine your company now has a larger presence around the world and you intend to expand in a lot more countries. You have a lot more employees and maybe some of them are dedicated to translation management. They are the ones who choose what content gets to be translated, who look for and maintain the relationships with the translation providers and they have a say in glossary and terminology issues. Your employees should not only be bilingual, they should have experience in translation and have the skills required to judge of the translation quality. They will be the ones replying to translators’ questions so they need to know the translation process. At this stage, either you are still working with freelance translators for each language you have, or you have moved to bigger organizations who manage that for you. Regardless, what is important is that you maintain consistency with the first translations, and that goes with a very strong glossary and translation memory management. The type of content that gets translated by companies at this stage includes more marketing material, you might want to have your FAQ translated, some white papers or technical docs, full product catalogues or even videos subtitled.

The bottom line is: at each stage of a company’s growth, translators are here to help you get to the next.


Photo credits: FancyCrave by Jose Antonio Alba



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