Research is KeyJust as local market research is fundamental to your success domestically, careful research of foreign markets enables a sure-footed expansion process. Steamfeed's "Advice for Startups Looking to Go Global" notes: "One of the biggest mistakes that ambitious startups make is to decide on a market before doing the research. There are some markets around the world that are literally exploding but that doesn't mean that your company would do well there. Just because an economy is booming doesn't mean there is a need or desire for your products or services. Before deciding on where you would like to expand, get the facts."
Understanding Your Language RequirementsMore than simply researching foreign markets is necessary, however. You must also consider how to meet the linguistic and cultural challenges of global expansion. Some questions to examine regarding your language support needs are:
- Will you partner with a freelancer or an agency?
- What type of language support you need? Do you need translation, localization, or transcreation services?
- How extensive is the scope of your project?
- What timeline for language support is needed?
Understanding Translation, Localization, and TranscreationIf you are unfamiliar with the complexities of language support, the terms used to describe the services needed may be somewhat confusing. How will you know which services you actually need? What are the differences between translation, localization, and transcreation?
Translation keeps your written content virtually word-for-word, merely changing it from one language to another. Thus, translation services can be done quickly and easily, often with the aid of machine translation to speed the process. However, translation alone is rarely sufficient to provide the type of user experience you want to provide for your global audience. More is required.
Localization services step up your language support by a notch. While the meaning of your content stays the same, localization translates the meaning of the words in a culturally appropriate way. In other words, localization gives your content a local flair, enabling local audiences to connect with your brand in a way that is comfortable and familiar to them.
Transcreation is the next step in the process of aligning your brand message with a culturally diverse audience. A language service provider that provides transcreation services will start with the concepts that your brand is trying to convey and develop unique content for target audiences in various countries that will convey your brand message more clearly to specific cultural audiences.
Since the actual content is developed in the local target language, you have assurance that the content will be culturally appropriate, linguistically correct, and on point with your business objectives. Thus, transcreation provides the best user experience for native speakers in your target markets by conveying your brand message in a way that resonates in their own mother tongue.
Transcreation may also affect the layout of your marketing materials or the images that are used to convey thoughts and ideas. Finding a language service provider that offers transcreation services is the best way to ensure that your marketing message is appropriate both linguistically and culturally for your target audience and is consistent with the branding message and user experience you want to convey.
Choosing a Language Service Provider
Failure to choose the right language service provider can spell disaster when taking your software global. Why? Simply put, the things that make your software unique and valuable can literally be lost in translation. If that happens, your expansion efforts will have been in vain.
What can you do to ensure that you are choosing your language service provider wisely? Inc.'s "5 Tips for Hiring a Translator" provides some sound advice. Regarding the use of a professional language service provider, the article notes: "A translator will help you with key aspects of doing business abroad such as translating correspondence, contracts, invoices, catalogues, and other necessary documents. The business of translation, however, is not necessarily limited to written materials. A highly skilled business translator can also localize your website and provide consulting services with respect to the preparation of your international marketing plans. He or she can even have a role in ensuring your business plan will work abroad. In other words, a translator can assist you in virtually all areas of your company's global expansion."
The first step in finding the appropriate language support is to determine what your needs are. This includes understanding the type of project your language support provider will be expected to perform, the availability of translators for your target languages, the level of difficulty of the subject matter, the volume of work needed, and the turn times needed to complete the project.
Generally, if your project is complex and you need support for more than a handful of languages, you will be best served by an agency rather than a freelance translator. An agency can assign multiple translators to your project, ensuring better turn times as well as providing enhanced quality control for your translations.
Regarding the qualifications of your translator, the Inc. article notes: "It's necessary to clarify one of the most misunderstood aspects of translation: the difference between being bilingual and being a qualified translator. A bilingual speaker is an individual who speaks two languages fluently. A qualified translator is a bilingual (or trilingual, etc.) linguist who knows the languages in question and understands the complex linguistic and cultural disparities between them."
Thus, a qualified translator provides a more complex and nuanced service than a person who merely happens to speak more than one language. When choosing an agency, look for certifications both for the agency itself and for its individual translators. Look also for an agency that uses translation memory software, which enables a more consistent translation of common words and phrases in your content across all your marketing materials.
Creating a Partnership with an Agency
To ensure the success of your global expansion project, it is best to consider your relationship with a language service provider as a real partnership. As you expand into more and more markets, working with an agency ensures that you will always have the language support you need. Offering more than simple translation, agencies that offer transcreation services enable you to truly get your branding message across to a global audience and provide a rich, nuanced experience for your target audience wherever that audience is found.
Dynamic Language is a full-service language support agency that offers translation, localization, and transcreation services to startups interested in global expansion. Contact us today to discuss your plans to go global, and we will partner with you to find the level of language support needed to make your expansion successful.