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The Temptation of Using Distributors for Translation Needs

April 8, 2014

When a manufacturer sells their products in foreign markets, localizing documents becomes a necessity in most cases. There may be anything from product manuals, to marketing materials, or even packaging labels which need to be localized. This can be a daunting task, especially for companies not familiar with the localization process. For this reason, some manufacturers simply rely on their local distributors to deal with translating the various documents. After all, the distributor is already responsible for selling the products, so surely they can handle translating any documents. Manufacturers often feel this solution will save them time, money, and other resources. While this may appear to be a simple solution for the short term, it’s not necessarily the best option for the long term.

There may be certain situations where relying on the distributor for translation is perfectly fine. However, there are a few things to consider before making this decision.

Legal Liability & Quality Standards: If there is a mistake or incorrect translation, what will be the liability of the manufacturer? Keep in mind, the distributor is responsible for selling many products from many manufacturers, and translation is simply not their top priority. The distributor may not be as concerned as the manufacturer about the quality of the translation or any legal liability that could result from a lack in quality.

Consistency & Brand Identity: Many manufacturers invest lots of time, money, and thought, to establish a certain brand identity and positioning for their products. Carrying this over to foreign markets requires a central translation and localization effort. In many cases, the manufacturer may be using multiple distributors, which means there’s no way to control the consistency of translation, and certainly no way to maintain the brand identity in each foreign market.

Distributors simply don’t have the same interests as the manufacturer when it comes to how the products are represented. Therefore, they can’t be expected to be as concerned about the quality of translation. Unfortunately, this can mean brand identity won’t carry over, translations may be inconsistent, and possibly exposure of liability. If, however, a manufacturer invests in translating and localizing the various documents, it can pay off significantly. If a high quality translation partner such as Morningside Translations is used, the brand identity will be properly localized and the materials will be consistent in foreign markets, all of which will result in more sales in the long run.