Does your brand need a translation agency?

When working on an international or localisation campaign for your brand, it can be hard to know where to start.

Should you choose an agency, or select a specialist freelancer to translate those painstakingly-written marketing materials?

I sometimes hear that people underestimate the work that is performed by agencies, calling them ‘just a link’ between the translation professionals and the end client.

The opposite is also common: agencies can be favoured almost categorically because they appear to guarantee a standard far beyond the expectations of a freelancer.

If you’re stuck and aren’t sure which route to take, here are a few simple questions to consider:How to decide if you need a translation agency or a specialist freelancer…

How to decide if you need a translation agency or a specialist freelancer…

Are you time-poor?

If you’re working with a deadline or are already managing hundreds of moving pieces, hiring a handful of freelancers may complicate matters further. For boutique operations with small internal teams, hiring an agency is a good solution to increase deliverables without adding to your list of tasks.

It’s the one-window principle.

Instead of an avalanche of emails to independent professionals in 20 languages, you only need to communicate with one manager who will take care of all the organisational elements.

Believe me, when you are testing professionals in several language pairs, you might easily deal with hundreds of emails per day.

Do you know what makes a good translator?

During the selection process, you also have to choose the best people yourself.

If you go with a handful of freelancers, you’ll need a clear set of criteria to accurately appraise your potential translators.

If you aren’t certain how to do this, you might seriously risk the results of the entire campaign.

This is especially tricky if you don’t know the target language and can’t estimate the quality yourself, in which case, it’s just a wild guess!

If this is you, the agency route might work better.

Do you have an existing network of translators?

If you’ve already worked with translation professionals and have found trustworthy, reliable, and dedicated translators, there’s no reason the freelance route wouldn’t work well in your favour.

My suggestion is to always be passively on the lookout for new translation talent – add continuously to your network of freelancers, so that when it’s time to launch your international campaign, you have a shortlist of the people who were tried and tested along the way.

Do you know what you need?

If you know your localisation needs and already have a professional allocated to translating your materials, it’s better to work directly with a freelancer.

However, if you’re making your first steps in a foreign market and need to localise your materials into 20 languages at once (e.g. in the case of a mobile app launch), it’s much wiser to deal with an agency. Agencies tend to have a pool of reliable, talented freelancers, as well as the expertise to harmonise your vision and deliver results you can stand behind.

All in all, while trying a translation agency can certainly be a rewarding and painless way to move forward in the globalisation of your luxury brand, I know from experience that working with freelancers can be very fruitful on both sides. The most important factor to consider is how either scenario applies to your brand and your objectives on the international market.

What were your experiences in working with a translation agency or freelancer?
Would you go the same route?

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