Packaging translation can end in tears very easily. Some packaging looks so bad, you might think the company did it deliberately. Here are our top tips for Packaging Translation disaster. This is essential reading if you are planning to internationalise your packaging.
Top tips for Packaging Translation disaster
1) Don’t plan
Like any area of business, its easy to make wrong decisions. Bad planning risks spending lots of money badly. An obvious question here, is why are you internationalising? A few orders from an ex-pat community, doesn’t prove that the whole of Spain will buy your English mustard.
2) Don’t check your source text
You would be surprised to learn the number of times we receive badly written text. It could be full of typos, or maybe it just doesn’t read well. Translating a poorly thought out source text will guarantee problems – however good the actual translation.
3) Don’t consider legal compliance
Many types of packaging are heavily regulated. In general, if your UK product is subject to lots of regulation your international packaging probably will be too. Specialist areas such as food, pharmaceuticals, and toys, all have heavy regulation. We recommend you think about regulations before internationalising your packaging.
4) Make lots of changes
Translation is always contextual. Don’t assume that if you change the layout of the text, add or omit something, that the change will also work with the translations. Different languages have different layout and grammar rules. For example, German uses a lot of capitalisation, and compound words. French has spaces before most punctuation, for example there is a space before a colon or semicolon. If you add or remove bullet points, bold text, or capitalisation, you need to check the result with your translators.
5) Don’t use machine translation
Despite claims to the contrary, Google can’t translate. At least not with any suffistication. Human translators are in effect technical authors in the target languages. They need to understand any required specialist vocabulary. They also need to research and study the text. If you get packaging wrong, you can have product stopped at port. You may also need an expensive re-label or end up with product which you can’t legally sell.
6) Don’t localise
It’s easy to think that your UK product will sell in Germany, but will it suit the local audience? We all understand that different consumers have different tastes and preferences. Local factors influence many areas. Target market tastes especially impact fashion retail. For example, does the target audience like the same colours as your UK market?