• Marion Bazzoli

How to collaborate effectively with a translation professional

You need to have the marketing material (website, newsletter, social posts...) of your vegan fashion brand translated. You have found a translator to do the work. What’s next?

In a series of articles, I will give you tips on how to obtain a translation without losing time, money and quality.

Part 1: before your translator starts the translation

- Do you really need a translation, or another type of service?

A common pitfall is to mix up services. The basics are as follow:

  • you have a document/website/brochure written in English, and you want it to be understood by your foreign clients = you need a translation

  • you already had your marketing material translated but you aren’t happy with the result = you need a revision

  • you had your documentation directly written in your clients’ language but aren’t happy with it = you need a review

  • you need to communicate orally with clients/subcontractors/collaborators who don’t speak English = you need an interpreter

  • you already had your documents translated, but you notice the translations aren’t consistent between them = you need a glossary and/or a style guide*

* (for more information on style guides, do not miss this series’ next article!)

Tip 1: if you still aren’t sure which type of service you would need, do not hesitate to ask your translator! A good service provider will always be available to give you advice.

Tip 2: do not ask your translator to revise a file translated with Google Translate (or similar)

These free online translations always offer a poor quality, and your service provider will ask you the permission to redo the translation from scratch. If you don’t accept, they will probably decline the job and avoid losing their time with you.... Which means you will have lost time too, and a translator! The best thing to do is to directly ask for a translation.

- Anticipate

To avoid stress for your and your translator, I advise you to send them the material to translate in advance.

For instance, let’s say you have the description of a new piece of cruelty-free clothing, about 400 words. Not much, right? It’s Monday, and you need it translated by Friday, for your team to put it on the French version of your label website by the end of the week. Will you wait until Thursday 5 pm to ask your service provider about it, since it’s a small task? I would advise you not to!

Indeed, the sooner you send your document to translate, the easier it will be for your translator to manage it, and you may even receive your translation in advance! Which gives you a bonus: if you have any questions/doubts about it, your translator will have enough time to check it with you, maybe to make a few corrections, and the translation will still be ready on time.

On the other hand, wait until Thursday EOB and you won’t have time for it; worse, maybe they will already have a full schedule and won’t be able to help you at all, meaning the translation will have to wait until Monday! Not the best scenario, neither for you nor for them.

- Pictures

Pictures of the products are fundamental, especially when translating the items’ description. Without them, even if the original description seems crystal clear to you, its translation can lead to a misinterpretation.

For instance, I remember a translation in which I left the English “matelassé” as it was, since it is a French word. Unfortunately, in this case the client meant that the pattern mimicked a padding. Without a photograph, it was impossible to understand.

- Type of medium

According to the medium, the translator (much like the English writer) will have to adapt. Let’s analyse some common pitfalls, depending on the medium:

     1. Your website

In some cases, the translation will depend on the space available: for example, the number of characters can be very limited in CTAs, buttons, in the menu bar, etc.

2. Social media

Be wary about the characters length on social media as well, such as Twitter: it allows only 280 characters, which aren't enough to convey meaning in French. Think also about how to limit the number of characters (e.g. by using abbreviations) and ask your translator what they would suggest.

Moreover, brands tend to be less formal on social media than on their website and marketing documentation. I would advise you to clearly state to your provider how formal/informal you would like the translation to be.

     3. Newsletter

Much like on social media, newsletters can be less formal, as their goal is to entice your prospects/clients to go on your website and buy your products. You will have to define the appropriate tone, and check as well if you need to limit the number of characters according to the layout. I would also recommand to be mindful of your subject line, since it has to be short in order to be catchy and more readable.

     4. Published document (brochure, leaflet, etc.)

Again, check if the number of characters needs to be limited in some cases. For instance, if some text is written in a box, I would suggest checking with your DTP specialist if it can be adjusted to make the translation fit in, rather than asking your translator to shorten their translation. Indeed, limiting the number of characters available can have your provider lessen the original message, which should be avoided.

Tip 1: About the characters’ length, you can see that it is a very picky issue on all media. When asking a translation, bear in mind that the French copy will need in average +20% space than the English version.

Tip 2: in all your media, you probably use images: if you insert text on it, do not forget to have it translated (and to provide the said image to your translator)!

Tip 3: I would suggest you to create a category especially on this subject in your style guide.

On this series’ next article, we will focus on style guides and glossaries, too often passed over.

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have any question :-)