Meet the translators: SDL

Wed 20 Sept 2017
Posted by: William Barns-Graham

sdl world translation day interview

You may not know this, but it's World Translation Day on Saturday September 30th September. We spoke to three major translation companies about the day and the work they do in helping UK exporters to be understood internationally. In this interview, we talk to Rob Gorby from SDL.


What’s your favourite phrase in any language for celebrating events like this?

Localising content is about much more than just making sure your message is understood. It’s also about getting the emotion of that message across to your target audience. Being an Irishman married to an Italian, languages (and local accents!) are really important in our family. So for me I’d say my favourite phrase on World Translation Day would be: “Sláinte” or “Salute” which is “Cheers!” in Irish and Italian.

Why is an appreciation of translation so important, generally speaking?

Translating content isn’t as easy as some might think. Many big brands have gotten this crucial part of the exporting process wrong over the years by using inexperienced freelancers or translators that don’t reside in the country they’re translating into, which has resulted in embarrassing and costly mistakes, some that brands have been unable to recover their reputation from in that specific market.

When it comes to your business, don’t leave your brand and important content with an unknown freelance translator that may save you a little cash. Only a translation provider like SDL, whose core translators are university educated full-time, in-house and in-country can guarantee the quality and consistency most companies demand by assigning a dedicated translator who understands your business, brand guidelines and tone of voice. Only a translation partner can understand the value of full-time in-house translators, and as a result you’ll notice the superior difference in your translation quality.


And why is it so important for businesses to treat localisation seriously?

There is only one language that matters. No, that language is not English. It’s the language of your customer. Quite simply, if businesses don’t treat localisation seriously and speak to their customer in their native language, they risk losing revenue and opportunities. 72% of consumers spend most of their time on websites in their own language, while 56% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. That means more than half of consumers will happily pay more for products and services delivered in their native language.

What are your top three tips for companies going about translating their materials for an international audience?

A faultless digital experiences is important in this day and age and often makes all the difference in a consumer’s decision to purchase. This is usually dependent on two factors: one, the content being relevant and two, it being in a language the consumer can understand. So, if you’re looking to go global and translate your content for an international audience, my top three tips to consider would be:

  • Understand your target market Have you done your research and explored the potential opportunities available? To ensure that your marketing efforts are successful, it’s crucial to understand the market you are entering. The opportunity for your products and services may be different overseas, requiring an entirely different go-to-market strategy, content delivery method and aftercare support. Always talk to people in the market first to validate your assumptions about the nature of the market and its state of development.
  • Ensure you’re talking the same language Offering your website and social media content in various languages is a huge asset, as it enables you to reach a far greater audience. Our recent YouGov research revealed that poor use of language is proven to discourage people from buying online. A third of the respondents admitted they would be discouraged to make an online purchase if the retailer had poor language skills. While one in 10 consumers surveyed would abandon the purchase altogether due to poor language.
  • Localise your translated content Though sharing many similarities, translation and localisation have a different output. International marketing requires an understanding of cultural dos and don’ts to get the desired impact in the different regions you are targeting. An ad campaign that is well received in Europe may not be successful or appropriate in Asia. The key word is ‘localisation’, not translation, which means making your product speak in an appropriate and culturally relevant way. Thorough research around culture, local features, similarities and differences will be crucial to your marketing success, keeping in mind that the aim is to be understood.