Why bad translations matter

Category: Business

Bad translations are infamous the world over. From the funny Asian translations, you can see online to crazy billboards with taglines that just don’t make sense. But what does a bad translation really mean? And how can it damage your business? To prove that quality translations pay off, let’s take a closer look at these questions.

Bad translations = harm to your brand

Although it has been said before, getting your translations wrong can really harm your brand. KFC had to learn it the hard way when they tried to enter the Chinese market. Instead of translating their slogan as “Finger Lickin’ Good”, it ended up as “eat your fingers off”. It took an awful lot of work to rebuild their reputation!

And it’s not just about linguistic accuracy, either. You also need to consider cultural and local nuances. Disney caused a bit of a stir when they released Moana in France. As the film features a Polynesian cast, you might assume that they would use French Polynesian voice actors, with French as their native language, right? Well, unfortunately, they didn’t, and it didn’t go down too well! 


Grammatical errors can even leave you on the wrong side of the law. Companies have been sued, fined, and worse due to issues with their translations. On this basis, it really is worth getting it right the first time as breaching the law will surely cost a lot more than paying for professionals the first time around!

Extra costs

Reworking a bad translation is likely to cost you more in the long run, and will cause delays in getting your product to market. Again, it’s not often worth the risk as editing a bad translation can often cost more than translating it from scratch and may still not achieve the desired end result.

Bad user experience = lost customers

Consumers are becoming a lot more demanding, and often rightly refuse to put up with sub-standard service. If they can’t understand your language versions, or even if they’re just not quite right, you can end up losing customers.

Google may penalise you

It’s not actually just Google, but search engines, in general, will penalise you in case of using machine translation on your website. Poorly translated sites tend to face problems with ranking, which will, in turn, affect your client acquisition rates.

So, as you can see, bad translations are never a good idea. If you’d like some help with your professional translations, feel free to get in touch and our team will be happy to assist.


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