How to Leverage Past Translations

Companies operate on the basis of collective memory. From client histories and data storage to accounting records, everything a business has done helps determine what it will do next. Now, imagine being forced to forget, to recreate every customer relationship from scratch and redeploy every piece of software without any recollection. Sounds terrifying, right? But for companies trying to increase their global reach by translating their value proposition across cultural and language divides, this kind of forgetfulness is a common occurrence. Total recall, however, is possible when using what’s known as “translation memory“.

At Home and Abroad

Companies that effectively localize their content are twice as likely to see profit increases and 1.25 times more likely to grow their earnings per share year over year. Why? Because misunderstandings can cause real problems for you and your brand. Consider the launch of KFC in China. The company’s “Finger lickin’ good” slogan was literally translated rather than localized, leading to a translated slogan of, “We’ll eat your fingers off,” which affected sales.

Whether you’re localizing in another country or trying to more effectively communicate with consumers at home, speed and accuracy are essential—it’s here that translation memory plays a significant role. Think of it like a database of past translations stored in segments such as phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs. When a translation service tackles your latest request, this memory bank helps experts quickly find previously translated content that has already been checked for accuracy and interpretation. The result is a much faster turnaround time and increased consistency with past projects, which helps maintain consistent brand memory.

The issue is that many translation companies take your content, create a translation memory database, and then charge you for the privilege of using your own data. Some demand a fee for hosting this data, while others try to take it with them when they leave, then charge for the use of this memory if you hire them again. In effect, you’re being forced to forget everything you’ve localized and then upsize your budget for access to your own memories.

Your best bet? Keep this data safe. It’s yours to start with and is best stored in a cloud environment that is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, SOC 2 and PCI Level 1. This makes it easy to keep track of all previous translations while still retaining access anytime, anywhere.

You wouldn’t give up precious accounting records or customer histories to software vendors, so don’t let translation memory fade away or get co-opted by a provider. If you keep your intellectual property close and pick your vendor carefully, this memory can help you forge a multinational future.

Image source: Flickr

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is a freelance technology writer with a passion for telling great stories about unique brands. For the past five years, he's covered everything from cloud computing to home automation and IT security. He speaks some French, is fluent in Ancient Greek and a master of Canadian English — and yes, colour needs a 'u'.