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The Cost of Mistakes

2 December 2019

Let’s clarify – translation mistakes ARE fixable. 

Most of the time, anyway. Usually, the solution is to throw more money at it, to correct the problem and, if the language services provider (LSP) is the one at fault, it’s up to him to foot the bill.

Here is a simplified, hypothetical scenario: A mistake is made in the English original copy. It costs $5,000 to fix. If there is a similar mistake made in the localization process and there are 20 languages being translated, that same mistake will cost $100,000 to fix.

Point is, translation mistakes CAN be quantified.

How about the consequences of a mistranslation that has gone live, however? Even worse, marketing messaging that goes awry?

Those are harder to quantify and you may not know until after the deed is done, how dangerous for your business that mistake is.

Workers remove a banner on Wednesday advertising the forthcoming NBA China Games between Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers from a building in Shanghai. Source: Aly Song/Reuters

Case in point, the incident caused by the general manager of the NBA franchise Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, who voiced his support for the Kong Kong protesters on Twitter. The immediate fallout for the NBA was a worsening of relations with China. The long-term effect, however, is putting a reported USD 5 billion business at risk.

It’s not the translation mistake which is costly, it’s what happens after it’s made and that can take many forms, some of which CANNOT be quantified:

  • The brand image takes a hit.
  • It can lead to a drop in in-country or regional sales for the offender.
  • Consumer satisfaction indicators such as Metascore or store review ratings will plummet and the product may end up being remembered for all the wrong reasons.
  • Negative social media mentions will lead to more bad press.
  • Government censure in certain parts of the world might endanger future business opportunities.

Learn from the mistakes other businesses have made and don’t wait until a problem occurs during translation. Nimdzi Insights is here to help you navigate the currents of worldwide geocultural issues.

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