UK Trade and Investment is urging British businesses to get involved in export during a dedicated week of events from 13th – 17th May. As a translation company helping UK companies to export, we are delighted to be involved with this initiative. Language translation is often overlooked by companies considering entering international markets, and yet it is crucial in many markets where English is not the first language. Even the US often has different legal requirments for product packaging compared with the UK, and it is also possible to underplay the differences between US and UK English, especially with marketing texts. We do however translate a lot of Spanish for the US market.

As exporters ourselves, we are very aware that language can be a barrier to export. As a translation business, we can obviously quote for work in any major language, but even for us, it is much easier to pick up the phone and speak to a client in the UK, with overseas customers this may be more difficult, and responses less instant. We benefitted from an Export Communications Review, as part of the excellent UKTI “Passport to Export” programme. This scheme helps identify possible barriers to communications, and helps companies to start thinking about how to address communication issues.

The type of service we offer to exporters is help to translate marketing literature, including website translation, we also translate export packaging for major retailers including Mothercare, Early Learning Centre, and M&S. Specialisms include care label translation, and food label translation.

Some exporters are tempted to ask agents or distributors to handle translation, the difficulty with this approach, is that the company loses control of what is said about the brand, and if the translation is of poor quality the first you will know is likely to be poor sales, or worse litigation and/or product recalls in the target country. Getting it right is really important in terms of all kinds of marketing information, but nowhere more so than in heavily regulated areas like food labelling.