Don’t get lost in translation


Nothing grates more than poor use of your own language, so for any company selling overseas, getting your translation word perfect isn’t just advisable, it’s crucial. Poorly translated copy undermines your credibility and damages your brand’s reputation. It looks sloppy and doesn’t say much for your working practices to potential clients.

At Vertical, we have over 23 years’ experience of commissioning technical translations for a number of clients.With an approach based on intelligence, knowledge and understanding, we know that paying for good quality translation is, unquestionably, worth every penny spent.

If you decide you want to save a few pounds and go for a cheaper translation, one of two things might happen. At best you’ll get clumsy copy on your ads, lose your brand’s tone of voice and weaken your message. To give you an example, a company whose identity we won’t reveal, turned down our offer of a translation service because we were €50 more expensive than someone else. They took out a full page ad in an electronics magazine in Germany to talk about the merits of an ‘underboard stencil wiper’. Naturally the original English ad referred to a printed circuit board. Alas, the German version referred to ‘cardboard’. The company’s switchboard certainly lit up but not with eager buyers. Saving €50 turned into a costly mistake. €5,000 to run the ad, plus the cost of translation, plus artwork, not to mention damage to credibility.

At worst, scrimping on translation costs can really embarrass you. Another company, (again we’ll spare their blushes) spurned our services and got an article translated into Italian. Within it, a turn of phrase that started as ‘solder balls’ in English turned into ‘small testicles of solder’ in Italian. Not a balls-up you would relish explaining to your boss or your Italian clients!

Using online website translation services, is similar to a game of ‘Chinese whispers’. Repeatedly translating copy back and forth between two languages quickly produces copy not even Yoda could understand.

Thankfully, red faces and wasted budgets are easily avoided. At Vertical, we work with a number of translators who specialise in different sectors, so we will always match the job to translator extremely carefully.


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