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Translation pricing: are you getting what you pay for?

By Julie Fry, 

It can be tempting to cut corners and pay a lower price for your translation, especially if you have a restricted budget – but this could be detrimental to the perception of your brand. Users are likely to make a snap judgement when reading your content, and if it’s not well written they’ve got no reason to keep reading. If you want to appeal to your target audience, you must be prepared to spend a little more on the right type of translation – it really is a case of getting what you pay for.

Paying for translation

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to fork out large sums every time you need content translated; different types of content and collateral require different types of translation. Sometimes you need to invest more, sometimes you don’t.

So how do you know what type of translation you should be using, and how can you be sure you’re investing the right amount to get the quality you need? We’ve taken a look at some collateral and the types of translation that are best suited to them. This will help you identify when and where to invest in your translation to get the best outcome for your business.

Machine Translation with Post Editing (PEMT)

If the document you need translating doesn’t require any technical knowledge or specialist language, you could consider machine translation (MT); a service that uses an automated system to translate text in a matter of seconds. This process is quick and easy, but when used incorrectly it can result in poorly translated copy.

We’d suggest using MT alongside a professional translation agency to proofread the content – a process commonly known as post-editing machine translation (PEMT). The translator can be involved as much or as little as you like, depending on your budget, but it will help to ensure that your copy makes sense. The last thing you want is to rely solely on MT and be left with copy that doesn’t make sense.

PEMT can be used for foreign tenders to get an idea of what is required and whether it is worth pitching for, before paying for a professional translation of the whole document. It’s also useful for translating technical documents for internal use, and it is a pretty good method for huge projects where the volume of text is so large it would take too long to use human only translation and it would be pretty pricey to have the whole thing professionally translated from start to finish!

Standard translation

If you’re looking for basic translation that requires the content to be translated as an exact reflection of the original text, standard translation could be the way to go. This form of translation is ideally used for translating certain documents like product manuals – such as the ones that come with home appliances – when all it needs to do is give basic instructions. It’s very much professional translation in its simplest form.

Even when it comes to standard translation, it’s important to consider who you are hiring to do the job and whether they can do it well. If their basic translation skills aren’t up to scratch, your copy won’t be either. It’s likely you’ll end up looking elsewhere for a better service when you could have saved yourself the time and money by going there in the first place! You can expect to spend a little more money to get better quality translation, but it will serve you well in the long run.

Technical translation

Technical translation covers anything that is particularly specialised within a certain industry such as detailed industrial processes. As an established translation agency, we’ve seen our fair share of technical fields throughout our time in the industry – and we know that even the most skilled linguists can struggle to hit the nail on the head when it comes to technical translation. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that the linguist fully understands the complex industry-specific terminology and concepts, and is familiar with the technical concepts and processes of the clients’ business.

Given the fact that the translator is required to have an in-depth understanding of such intricate subject matter, it’s no surprise that it’s a little more expensive than other types of translation. If your source text contains complex or industry-specific terminology and concepts, you’ll likely need the help of a specialist language partner who is an expert in technical translation.

Finance Translation

Translating financial documents covers anything relating to finance and accounts that generally contain confidential information; whether that be an annual report, a credit statement, or even security documents for mortgages and loans. The language of finance is pretty complex, so much so that we’d go as far as to say it could even be considered a language in itself. It’s therefore vital that anyone translating your financial documents has a sound understanding of the industry and terminology. Without it, the accuracy of your content could suffer.

Using a highly qualified linguist – like those available at Brightlines – to translate your financial documents will ensure that your copy is precise and consistent. Professional translators also consider the cultural context and implications of the language, tailoring the copy to appeal to the specific audience. Yes, using a professional finance translator will be more expensive than using a standard translator, but think about the pros and cons. Do you want to risk the misinterpretation of such important piece of collateral? If the answer is ‘no’, it’s time to get in touch with a professional finance translation agency.  

Marketing Translation

There’s a lot of ground to cover in the realm of marketing translation. Whether it be sales collateral, brand guidelines, or messaging to use on social media, translating your marketing copy requires huge skill, creativity and attention to detail. For this reason, you should invest in a reliable translation agency, particularly one who specialises in global marketing translation – like Brightlines.

Consider how much time, money and effort was spent writing the original source text in English. More often than not, more time and consideration goes into writing the original text than translating it, which means all the initial hard work to get the wording and phrasing just right is instantly lost. Think of it like this: would you prefer to arrive at your clients door in a Lada with the doors hanging off, or a big shiny Mercedes? Well, the same goes for translation! If you opt to use MT or have it translated word for word, you simply won’t maintain the message and you’re clients will notice your doors are hanging off!

Marketing content should also be localised to make sure that you incorporate any cultural differences or consumer preferences into your materials. This can involve everything from changing colours and images on marketing material, to altering the fonts on your flyers and the layout of your website. For more information, have a look at our blog post about the difference between localisation and translation.

Using a professional translation agency that is skilled and knowledgeable in marketing translation can be more expensive than using other methods of translation. But would you rather invest in an experienced translator to write creative copy that gives your competitors a run for their money, or save yourself some money and be left with copy that has no ‘oomph’ and doesn’t reflect your messaging? We know what we’d rather do…

Financial Marketing Translation

Finance marketing translation involves translating any collateral, whether that be hard copy or online, that promotes the services of a financial company. This could range from sales materials, to the company website – there really is a broad range of content that falls into this category.

Finance is an extremely competitive market, and one in which precision and consistency are paramount. That’s why it’s vital to ensure that all of your marketing materials are translated by someone who has an in-depth knowledge of the finance industry alongside excellent creative writing skills. Without this skillset, your content will fail to effectively promote your product or service to finance professionals or consumers.

To avoid any mishaps, you need to invest in professional, high-quality financial translation for your marketing. Failure to do so could be the difference between success and failure when it comes to selling your product or service!

Pharmaceuticals and Life Science Translation

Pharmaceutical and life science documentation essentially support the development of drugs and devices within the medtech and biotech industries. As you can imagine, there are constant updates and changes in these fields, meaning that variations of collateral are also changing all the time. Some of the documents involved in these fields are clinical trials, patient questionnaires, regulatory documents, medical device instructions, elearning courses and more. Translating these documents enables more people to access valuable information about new treatments and tools that can inform and educate consumers and professionals alike – no matter what language they speak!

It’s a given that the copy in this industry is extremely technical and specific, and this is something that needs to be considered when deciding your budget. When it comes to health, you really can’t afford to make any mistakes – which is why you need to consult a professional translation agency. It can be both risky and dangerous if even the smallest error crops up in any documentation, and could lead to a hazardous outcome for those creating the product as well as the end user. As the translation workflow needs to have more stages (proofing, professional reviews and back translations, for example), the skill and experience of the linguists needs to be far more extensive for these industries. So, you can expect to pay more – but when compared to the risks of cutting corners, it is an essential investment.

Transcreation

When it comes to marketing translation, we should also stress the importance of using a translator that is skilled in the art of transcreation; the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, tone and context. It’s all about preserving your message to reflect your brand and company ethos, which is why it’s so important when it comes to marketing translation.

Without transcreation, the messaging and style of your content will be lost. Yes, you might have to pay a little more to have your content transcreated – but it’ll be worth it when you see customers engaging with your business. You can take a look at our complete guide to transcreation blog post for more information about the process.

Pharmaceuticals and Life Science Marketing Translation

Getting life science translation right is complicated, but it must be done correctly. That’s why you need a translator who has an extensive understanding of the industry, as well as being a competent copywriter – particularly when it comes to marketing. Without these skills, your marketing collateral could be misinterpreted which could lead to a reduction in sales and purchases.

Marketing materials for the industry include medical and pharmaceutical sales aids and materials promoting the benefits of new drugs and devices to professionals and consumers alike. These types of marketing collateral can be highly technical, yet they must still engage the reader, something only a highly skilled linguist can deliver.

Using a translator with industry knowledge and copywriting skills will ensure that you get the highest quality marketing materials. When it comes to specialised topics, such as life science, you really do get what you pay for. For more information, speak to a professional translation agency.  

So what should you be paying?

To give you an idea of the relative costs of different types of translation, we’ve outlined a ranking order of the different methods from least to most expensive.

What now?

While this is not an exhaustive list of all types of translation and services, we hope it’s given you the insight you need to know how and when to invest your money. If you have a specific project in mind, or want to know more about the different types of translation that are available, contact Brightlines today. We have over 20 years of experience in the industry and have a network of 1,000’s of fully tested professional translators. Even if your project is something completely new, we have the experience to provide the best possible outcome.

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