Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tips On Translation: Translating Your Business Cards Into A Foreign Language

Handing over your business card is often the first contact between you and a potential customer. There are few better ways to show a customer that you have a genuine interest in them than by having something they can readily understand - such as a business card translated into their language.
When you're translating material so that it can be used by overseas customers it's worth thinking of what information they will benefit from. Translating your marketing material means taking care of everything: your website, brochures and any written material including your business cards.
When you are 'translating your business' into a new language, there are a few things that you may not think of but could be vitally important.
As most business cards just have contact details and title, it may seem like a lot of trouble for some very small changes. However, it does help your business look professional on the international market. Business cards can be the face of your business and are often the first thing that people see, so you want them to be clear, easy to follow - and correct.
The essentials that need translating are anything that might cause confusion (or mirth) when potential overseas customers are looking at your card. This may mean even starting with your company name. Is it offensive, strange or silly in the target language? Hopefully you won't have to change your company name, but it may be worth using a transliteration of your company name in brackets below the name in English, so potential customers at least know how to pronounce it correctly.
When translating your business card, you may consider simplifying it so you do not confuse potential customers. A less cluttered card is less likely to contain translation errors - this will also keep translation costs lower. All that potential customers need to know from your business card is who you are, what your company does and how to contact you. Keeping the card simple and clear has the added benefit of being minimalist and modern looking.
Possibly the most important thing to translate correctly (after your business name and any small points about what your company does) is your job title. If your title is complicated or long-winded it may be worth simplifying it. Check that your translator has adequate knowledge of what you do so they don't assume your title means one thing, when really it means another.
Each language has variants; it's worth noting these differences when translating your business card. For example, German spoken in Germany may vary to German spoken in Switzerland, as may Traditional Chinese (Taiwan) and Simplified Chinese (mainland China). If this is the case, you may consider having a number of German or Chinese versions, for example.
Your company will have thought very carefully about the design and the colours used for company logos, graphics and images. These are things that can also be 'translated'; western ideals and styles are likely to be quite different to Chinese or Japanese, for example, where even colours (especially red, gold and white) can have connotations.