Errors in translation assignment

5 key mistakes in commissioning translations of promotional and marketing texts
Το μεταφραστικό κέντρο Glossima & Wehrheim.


The quality of translations, especially for promotional and marketing texts, can have a significant impact on how the public perceives you and your business. Every year, in order to reach international markets, organisations and businesses spend considerable time and money on translating marketing texts. But is there a corresponding effect? What is the value for money and what is the return on this investment?

The answer lies in the choice of translators.

Below we present five key pitfalls to avoid when commissioning the translation of marketing and promotional texts.

Error #1: Word-for-word translation.

You can rarely get your message from a national to an international audience by translating word-for-word. Except for a few text categories, the content needs to be differentiated depending on the audience you are targeting. Local elements of the foreign market should be taken into account so that the meaning can be understood by the specific audience (localisation). Translating literally is therefore probably the wrong choice.

Proposed solution: Always be clear about the objectives of the content, do not forget the target audience as well as the local, specific, characteristics of the target market. The final text in the target language is intended to meet the needs of its readers, not to translate the original word for word!

Avoid word-for-word translation by turning to the right professionals with the necessary expertise. Often the successful translation of your message into a foreign language requires rewording or even transcreation. Fear not! Make your texts “hit the mark” by outsourcing the work to professionals.

Error #2: Assuming that native speakers of a language are also translators

Would you ask anyone to write a medical text? No, of course not, we’re not risking our health. Why then would you “risk” your business? There is a perception that translations of promotional and marketing texts are straightforward, that the requirements in terms of terminology are not excessive and that the style of the text is simple. Companies are seduced by this impression and entrust the translation of their texts not to professional translators but to ordinary speakers of the target language.

Proposed solution: The mother tongue is very important for the quality of the translation, and outsourcing translations to a language should be done to native speakers of that language. But is it enough? Translation and copywriting require absolute expertise. It is important to entrust your texts to professional translators who, in addition to being native speakers of the target language, have expertise in the subject matter in question. For an even better result, for example when translating a Greek text into another language to promote a Greek company in the target country, the translator should be resident in the country or at least be very familiar with local customs. Before you go ahead with the assignment, therefore, ask for a writing sample! Even if translating a sample before the assignment involves an extra charge, in the end, you will find that you have actually saved money.

Error #3: Avoiding translation teams and translation companies because you think they are expensive.

There is a perception that translation companies can’t provide personal contact with your business and understand your needs like a dedicated translator for your business, but this is not the case. Translation companies have access to more, better qualified and more skilled translators, as well as translation software that can help with text consistency and even reduce translation costs. In addition, these companies are able to take on any project you assign to them, in the time that suits you!

Preferred solution: Turn to certified companies with professional liability insurance,which can cover a wide range of translation issues. On the one hand, you ensure the quality of the translation and, on the other hand, you have a “person” from whom, in the event of an error, you can claim liability!

Error #4: You think that information about the text’s objectives is not useful to translators.

Quite a few errors in the translation or rendering of a text are made due to inadequate information provided by the translator or project manager.