How to Choose the Right Translation Provider—Ask Yourself These Questions

To compete in the global marketplace, a growing number of businesses and organizations are adding “multilingual communication” to their strategic business plans. That’s the first step to Going Global. But picking the right translation and interpreting provider can be tricky. Today’s rich mix of professional agencies, independent freelancers and technology Who To Choose? Imagedevices can make the selection process as overwhelming as it is confusing. So to help you chose the right translation provider, here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:
Am I Getting High Quality Translators & Interpreters?
To make sure your message is communicated correctly, look for a reliable, full-service agency with experienced translators and interpreters—they should be professionally trained, have knowledge of your particular industry or subject matter, and be native speakers of your target language. For very specialized subjects in areas like science, medicine and law, it is crucial to use translators and interpreters who know the field as well as they know the language. Use machine translations only for quick, informal messaging. While technology can play a role in the initial development of a translation project, only human translators can ensure the kind of quality and accuracy you want in a first-class finished product.
Am I Getting a Partner, or Just a Vendor? Your translation or interpreting project is likely tied to a larger communication strategy for your brand or organization. The best language service provider is one that can help synchronize your message within the context of your overarching business goals. Select a translation company whose skills and services run deeper than strict language conversion.You want one that is committed to your long-term success and who can offer advice and guidance on how best to convey your message to foreign audiences. Which leads into our next question…
Will My Message Meet Localization and Transcreation Standards?
Look for an agency with a team of linguists, editors and proofers who don’t just return a word-for-word translation of your original copy. You want the intent of your message to resonate within the cultural and social context of your target audience. This requires “localizing” your content and presenting the message in a way that sounds natural and genuine to the receiver’s ear. By the same token, instead of a strict “translation,” you sometimes need “transcreation” services to produce the proper message essence through your various marketing, advertising and promotional products. Don’t assume that your product tagline, website graphic or advertising jingle will necessarily be received the same way in another culture. What plays well in the United States does not automatically transfer to other countries, and vice versa.
Will They Add Value to My Bottom Line?
Value comes in many shapes and sizes. The most important consideration is whether your translation and interpreting provider can help make—or save—you money. Sure, there’s an upfront cost to perform the actual work, but does the work itself ultimately increase sales, attract new customers or expand your brand footprint? Similarly, does using an outside provider
enhance your company’s productivity by removing time-consuming duties from your Question Mark Imageemployees’ desks, allowing them to focus on other work that is just as important to your bottom line? As a “partner” in your communication efforts, the agency you select should add value to your organization by alleviating your stress level, either from a performance or financial standpoint, or both.
So as you wade into the vast sea of translation and interpreting providers, don’t assume every one is the same. Ask yourself these key questions before deciding who to entrust with your foreign-language communication efforts.
If you’d like further help in navigating the process, give us a call. We’re happy to assist.