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Global Voices founder Luigi Koechlin talks about the importance of translation and interpretation services when dealing with international customers and developing new export markets

If you were to ask any of the 2014 Commonwealth Games travellers, they will tell you that language and culture can be the greatest hurdles to overcome when deciding whether or not to attend an international sporting event. If a country is seen as a place that is not welcoming and unpalatable culturally, then this may discourage travellers from attending. 

How, where and when things are communicated to a potential attendee will make all the difference to overcome this, and the message, tone and relevance to the audience is key in ensuring that they do attend. The very same can be said for all of our prospective clients when targeting new geographical areas.

The cost of getting it wrong

Let me share with you a recent mishap. We received a call from a concerned Chinese marketing company. They had used another Language Service Provider (LSP) to translate some marketing materials advertising the Edinburgh Festival.

What had confused them was that the translation, from English into Chinese, had included the sentence ’Tourists flock to Edinburgh Castle in order to be tattooed.’ Our Project Manager then explained that ‘The Tattoo’ involves military bands and display teams from The Commonwealth and not mass sessions of body painting with indelible ink.

While this example has a funny side, the marketing company could well have lost credibility and possibly business if this had not been corrected before publishing, because of a low quality translation

Getting the best translation

Firstly, all companies should always use quality linguists. The linguists should only translate into their mother tongue – this ensures that all spelling, comprehension, linguistic nuances and subtleties are preserved. Linguists must also hold professional translation and/or interpretation qualifications. 

Very importantly, they should also have a minimum of five years’ experience translating or interpreting within your specific sector. 

Finally, they must all provide two professional references and original copies of all documentation associated with their professional and educational backgrounds.

Professional mother-tongue linguists with relevant industry experience are key to delivering exceptional translations. If the price seems too good to be true for the quality of translation being promised, the likelihood is you may well end up with indelible ink on your being rather than a first class military band extravaganza.

Making a global company

For us, deciding to internationalise our business was never going to be an option, it was a must. With a client base requiring support across many of their international geographical locations we learned very early on in our journey that unless we were able to offer our language solutions on a global scale, many of our larger clients or potential clients simply could not work with us. With this in mind we set out to implement a strategy to turn the company truly global. 

Our websites were developed in multiple languages, all marketing collateral was translated, and we created an ambitious digital marketing campaign and recruited mother-tongue account and project managers. This all proved to be an excellent move forward and considerably improved relationships and financial returns with our existing and new client base. 

We were able to take advantage of our fortunate position with open access to exceptional linguists to assist us on our journey - the added support of Scottish Enterprise offering us advice and introductions to the right people made this a smooth process for Global Voices.

Over a decade later we continue to drive the business forward with a very international focus. We now have the pleasure of supporting many of our Scottish clients in taking their businesses to new international markets.

How can we help you to go global?

If you're looking to build a global company, and break into international markets, our export advisers can provide advice and support to put you on the right track.

Talk to an export adviser