The Importance of Translation to British Businesses

The Importance of Translation to British Businesses

People buy in their own language. That’s a fact. It’s a thing we can’t deny. Like the fact that getting language wrong can be disastrous.

Translation is often a legal requirement to enter a regulated market. But, for any business or institution doing business with foreign language speaking clients or an overseas market, it is one of the easiest ways to get ahead – after all, research in 2014 evidenced that 60% of respondents rarely or never make purchases from English-language sites, and 56% would boycott English-language URLs altogether, whilst further research in 2020 and 2023 shows “that 9 out of 10 global users will ignore your product if it’s not in their native language”.

The digital age has opened up unprecedented opportunities for expansion, and British companies are increasingly eyeing international growth; however, to survive and thrive in global markets, effective communication is paramount, and accurate translation becomes essential to business success (and legal compliance!).

What is Business Translation?

Business translation is an approach to translating a text into one or more target languages to facilitate global business operations. But what exactly might a business translate? Whereas it may seem obvious, it is actually quite easy to underestimate the amount of information that needs to be translated by a firm that is looking to deal with or expand into international markets.

Depending on the purpose of a business’s expansion overseas, there could be a myriad of documents that may need to be given consideration for translation; from marketing materials and websites to contracts and commercial agreements, from HR manuals and operations guidelines to technical documentation and specification and even more beyond.

According to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey, 72% of IT decision-makers plan to expand into new cities, countries, or regions within the next 12 months. Clearly, global expansion is very much on the radar of many a business.

Foreign markets offer immense revenue potential and British businesses can tap into these markets by bridging language gaps.

But why bother, can’t everyone just read English anyway?

…erm..no.

With an estimated eight billion people in the world today, only an estimated three hundred and eighty million speak English as a first language. That is only 4.75% of the world’s population.

If you add second language speakers, the number goes up to one billion four hundred and fifty-six million, which is still only 18.2% of the world’s population, and even then not all second language speakers are created equal with widely varying levels of proficiency.

Ok, I’m listening – tell me why should I translate?

First, to boost one’s business profile.

Language barriers are a hindrance to growth (well, unless a business has a strategy focused solely on a domestic market or overseas markets that only operate in the same language, and assuming that market is limited to a single language).

Take a British company wanting to tap into the vast Chinese market, by way of example. Whilst English is widely spoken globally, it’s only spoken by a very small percentage of the Chinese population. To truly connect with potential customers, the business must communicate in the preferred language of their customer (and in order to comply with local regulations, also submit specific documentation in the local official language). Without translation, the business risks not only being left out and missing out on building a customer base in China, but also in not complying with local legislation and compliance.

When expanding abroad, businesses should adopt a “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” approach (or, in Chinese “入乡随俗”). As mentioned above, locals prefer engaging with enterprises that have a presence in their native language - a well-translated website, marketing materials, and customer support demonstrate commitment and respect for local culture and compliance with local laws. It’s not just about words; it’s about creating an authentic connection.

Second, and we’ve mentioned it already : Regulatory compliance.

Legal and regulatory content demands precision. Contracts, agreements, and compliance documents must be accurately translated to avoid legal pitfalls. A minor error could have significant consequences. Whether it’s GDPR compliance, tax regulations, or industry-specific guidelines, professional translation ensures clarity and adherence to local laws.

Third, more than just making your business profile visible - making it relevant. That’s right, we mean commercial content.

Marketing materials, product descriptions, and advertising campaigns need more than literal translation. Effective localisation considers cultural nuances, idiomatic expressions, and context. A catchy slogan in one language may fall flat when directly translated into another. Skilled translation adapts content to resonate with the target audience, maintaining brand integrity and driving engagement.

How IMD Translation can help

Investing in professional translation services is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a strategic necessity. By overcoming language barriers, British businesses can expand their market reach, build strong relationships with international customers, and enhance professionalism and credibility. In the global arena, where commerce knows no borders, translation is key to unlocking success.

In Business, Words Matter.

In Legal Matters, Language Matters.

If you have a business, financial, or legal language need, look no further than IMD Translation and reach out to discuss your project with our team today at info@imdtranslation.co.uk