Bad Translations Can Harm a Business


As a business owner, you will come across the need to get translations done from time to time. In all such instances, you need to make sure that you are getting the best quality translations done. If not, your business will have to experience numerous negative impacts along with time.



Following are some examples that indicate how bad translations are in a position to create a negative impact on your business.


It can damage your brand 


All the businesses are extremely concerned about brand reputation. The mistakes that you do with translations are in a position to create a negative impact on your brand. Hence, it is important to pay extra attention to this fact and get your translations done accordingly.


When KFC started their business operations in China, they wanted to translate their tagline, which says “Its finger licking good.” However, the translations did a bad job with the translation and it was stated as “Eat your fingers off.” This created a massive impact on the brand reputation that KFC has been maintaining globally.

In some of the instances, the translated words would look fine. However, there can be changes in the connotation. On the other hand, the translations can sound linguistically correct in other instances. However, the real translation can be causing a cultural nuance. Therefore, you need to make sure that you are getting the best translations done from an expert so that you can refrain from causing any unwanted damages to your brand.


You can refrain from potential fines 


Making mistakes with translations can lead you towards expensive losses as well. That’s because you will have to face massive fines with the mistakes that you do with the translations. Let’s take a look at an example of how a company had to spend a lot of money on fines due to a translation mistake that they did. The shipping company was forced to make a payment of $5 million worth overtime payments to the workers, just because there was a missing Oxford comma stated within the state law. The translation said that the meaning had to be updated. 


Numerous language barriers transformed the issue to get worse. This created a dramatic impact on the quality of the translation. 


At another instance, a hospital based in Florida translated the word intoxicated to intoxicado. Due to this translation error, one of the patients at the hospital got delayed to receive the treatments. As a result, the patient ended up with getting brain damage. The hospital eventually had to make a payment of $71 million at the settlement. If you don’t want to lose your business money like that, you should heavily focus on the quality of translations that you are getting.


They can cause accounting errors


Mistakes done with translations are in a position to cause accounting errors as well. The accounting errors can be expensive for your business in the long run. 

In here, you need to understand that not just the words are in a position to cause troubles. When you take a look at the English speaking countries, the comma is being used to separate the large numbers. For example, a comma will be used when writing down “200,000”. This provides extra convenience to the person who is reading the number.

But in many other countries in the world, the comma is being used to represent a decimal place. Now you know what kind of a serious accounting mistake that it can create. If the meaning is not conveyed correctly, you will be meaning 1/1000th of the number that you actually wanted to communicate.


This is the main reason why you need to make sure that you are getting the assistance of a translator who has a clear understanding of both the languages and norms on how the numbers are represented. Then it is possible to refrain from such mistakes.


Likewise, it is also important to note that the dates can also get wrong in such a way. For example, November 10, 2019 is displayed as 4/10/2019 within the UK. But in Brazil, the same format will be used to represent October 11th of 2019. 


You will have to spend more money to rework 


Once you discover the fact that you have made a mistake with a translation, you will have to work on it again and fix the error. This is an expensive job to do. You will have to spend a considerable amount of money out of your business to do it. You will have to do many more sales to recover that amount.

On the other hand, it is also important to note that translation errors can lead you towards marketing expenses and production expenses as well. They include rebranding efforts and reprinting expenses. In some of the instances, the companies end up with missing their deadlines due to the mistakes that they did with translations.

For example, HSBC recently launched a new international brand, which had the slogan “Assume Nothing”. However, a translation mistake made that say “Do Nothing.” This made HSBC spend a considerable amount of money on rework.


It can deliver a poor user experience 


As a business, you are always concerned about the user experience that you are delivering. If you fail to deliver perfect user experience, you will end up with losing your customers. Translations that you do are in a position to contribute heavily towards the user experience that you can create as well. 

For example, if there are poor quality translations with spelling mistakes on your website, you will be making life difficult for a person to go through your business website. As a result, you will not be able to get that visitor converted into a lead. 


Final words 


Now you know how bad translations can cost your business. Make sure that you don’t do these mistakes with translations at any given instance.




This article first appeared on Harry Clark blog

Also, read Machine Translation versus Computer Aided Translation