The role of languages within the international business sector
Globalisation has truly influenced the way companies do business and interact with their potential customers and trading partners. Even in the not so distance past, most organisations would cater predominantly to locally based consumers and open up a number of branches in specific locations to meet the market’s demand accordingly.
Today, however, things have changed a little. A business or an organisation is able to reach out to clients based not only in a different market, but in a different country all together. Nowadays, with a widely accessible internet and exciting technology developments, globalisation progresses faster than ever before. As a result, consumers are able to purchase goods from and identify with brands they wouldn’t be able to approach just 15 or 20 years ago. At the same time, businesses can increase their revenue by approaching foreign markets.
Before this is possible, however, there is one aspect of internationalisation many business owners overlook, and that’s the correct use of language. Being able to showcase your brand, products and services directly in the market’s native language is absolutely key in today’s environment. A recent study found, that more than 80% of European customers prefer to buy products, if they are able to find the essential information about it in their native language and some respondents claimed, they never commit to purchasing an item or a service if they can’t fully understand the information provided – in other words: if it’s not translated into their native language, they won’t buy it.
Which brings us to our next point – professional translation services. In order to trade successfully abroad, it’s not only essential to provide the information to the potential customers in their native language, but it must be done a way, which builds a trustworthy and credible image of your brand. An image potential customers wish to be associated with.
A poorly converted and translated documents not only won’t help your brand in acquiring foreign customers abroad, but they can in fact damage your company’s reputation and have a negative, long-term effect. If your materials are incorrectly translated, the prospective customers can potentially find the wording or images offensive and culturally inappropriate, which may be rather difficult to erase from their mind in the future.
As a result, working with professional translation agencies in order to convert corporate documents and business materials has become extremely popular over the recent years across practically all business sectors. Translating business content can however be a challenging and demanding task. Often, the linguistic factors are only one of the aspects to bear in mind when covering from one language into another. Socio-cultural differences can also play a significant part in how your translated materials will be perceived abroad and how the translations will affect your marketing efforts. Working with an agency which specialises in translating documents and materials similar to yours is therefore essential in order to ensure the highest quality and make sure that the translations are effective and positively impact your company image.
Finding such translation agency can, nevertheless, be quite difficult. Although the number of language service providers is growing constantly, being able to find an agency which not only covers your languages and document types required, but also specialises in your particular corporate sector, whether legal, marketing, commerce or any other, can be a genuinely challenging project. In the United Kingdom, we can however generally recognise four or five professional translation agencies, which are the ‘go-to’ suppliers for some of the largest companies and which are able to deliver accurately converted documents, regardless of your business sector, type of documents or languages and deadlines required.
The global language translation sector has seen a truly astonishing growth over the recent years. According to Verified Market Research, it is likely that the translation services market will be worth around £40b by 2027, and so the fact that the number of new providers constantly grows should come as no surprise. Nonetheless, working with an established and expert language company is key in achieving the highest accuracy and consistency, both cultural and linguistic, throughout your documents. Some of the best translation agencies in the UK in 2021 include:
- London Translating
- Translation Services 24
- Lion Bridge UK
- Language Reach
At this point, it’s also crucial to mention professional language institutions, such as the CIOL (Chartered Institute for Linguists) or ATC (Association of Translation Companies), which are the official translation bodies in the United Kingdom and where you can find and review providers with ease. Additionally, websites such as Proz.com or Clutch are truly fantastic resources where you will be able to find reputable linguists or translation companies, based on their experience, business sector expertise or languages covered.
What should you translate in order to approach foreign markets successfully?
Once you’re fortunate enough to partner with one of the providers from our list, or to find a different, experienced provider yourself, deciding which particular content and documents are essential to translate and which are not during your international expansion, can have a truly great impact on your company’s budget and meeting the required deadlines.
As a rule of thumb, digital content such as websites, social media posts or blog articles should be translated as these can attract potential customers organically. Especially your company’s website is something that needs to be carefully translated (and often localised) in order to meet your target market’s expectations.
Additionally, legal materials – whether contracts, warranties or any other documents which are essential for your business on the home turf, must also be translated into the market’s native language.
If your budget allows, converting further marketing materials, for instance brochures or business cards, can also go a long way when approaching a new, foreign market.
If you’re not entirely sure as to which particular materials you should translate (this can really depend on factors such as your target audience, market, business sector or even the way in which you wish to approach the chosen market, e.g. digitally o via a physical store), some of the larger professional translation agencies will usually be able to advise you accordingly, so don’t be shy to ask and simply enquire what they would suggest based on their experience.
Top languages to translate into for UK companies
Choosing an international market to expand to with products and services is a challenging tasks for any company, regardless of their size, corporate sector or previous experience.
Being able to find just the right market and approach it successfully is usually based on months on extensive research and in-depth analysis.
Nonetheless, being able to understand, which particular languages are amongst the most frequently requested and translated by UK businesses will allow your research to be even more exhaustive.
In order to find out, which languages are most popular amongst UK businesses and organisations planning an international expansion, we have spoken to Max Irwin a representative of London Language Translations Ltd, one of the leading translation agencies in the United Kingdom. He said that “Without a doubt – French, Spanish and German are some of the most frequently requested languages when it comes to corporate translations. Polish and Dutch are also extremely popular, as these markets are becoming more and more competitive for UK organisations. The most popular non-European languages include Chinse, Arabic and Japanese. Markets where these languages are native seem to be very appealing for business owners across majority of sectors.”
Approaching foreign markets with products and services – whether within or outside of Europe, is a challenging task, which requires careful planning and precise execution. Language translations have become an inseparable part of any successful internationalisation story and so working directly with an agency, that is able to help you throughout the process, is absolutely essential. Time and again, accurate translations consist of much more then only the linguistic aspects, and so when choosing an agency you wish to partner with and convert your documents, ensure that they also understand the socio-cultural aspects of your chosen market as well as the nuances of your particular business sector.