Translation compliance is a challenge that we run into quite frequently, especially with our clients in the manufacturing and cosmetics industries. When creating content, businesses in these sectors are subject to a variety of regulations designed to ensure end-user safety and honest customer communications. Regulations often demand the use of specific terminology in marketing and technical documentation, or prohibit the use of language that implies an unproven claim.
Keeping on top of regulatory compliance can be an onerous task at the best of times, but the difficulty skyrockets for organizations operating on a global scale, where different international markets enforce their own regulations.
Regulations can vary massively between different countries. For instance, a marketing image of a woman with a measuring tape around her waist would be illegal for a nutrition company in Turkey; but the same image would be acceptable in the USA.
With these differences in mind, the challenge for global businesses is to create localized content that not only complies with local market regulations, but also delivers the message accurately and in a way that is effective with the local audience.
Compliance vs customer experience
In our experience, the issue that most commonly stands in the way of effective, compliant localization is when different lines of business – such as legal and marketing – are not aligned towards the same globalization goals. While some departments might see translation as a legal requirement, others will view it through the lens of the global customer experience. If these groups maintain a siloed mindset and fail to communicate, reviewers will waste time and effort working at cross purposes.
Veering too far towards either side will also lead to sub-optimal content. If localization is purely compliance-led, it is easy to miss out on the extensive brand loyalty and growth-related benefits that strong global content can deliver. Similarly, when marketing reviewers make edits to improve readability – for example, by eliminating repeated keywords – they risk compromising translation compliance.
Businesses will typically err towards prioritizing compliance (and justifiably so, when the consequences of non-compliance include law suits, user injury, and even deaths), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to enjoy the best of both worlds. And that’s where Rubric comes in.
Align priorities and implement automated terminology checks
At Rubric, we follow CSA Research’s Globalization Maturity Model. This means that we approach globalization holistically, putting localization into context as one piece of the puzzle, and factoring in the needs of your whole business and your broader corporate strategy. By looking at localization as an enterprise-wide globalization process, we can work with teams across all relevant departments to ensure that everybody understands both compliance and customer experience priorities. And by working with our clients’ authors, we can help them create source content that meets these priorities while being written with localization in mind.
We also make certain that both our consultants and translators fully understand the purpose of the source content: what it’s for, and why it is written in a certain way. This ensures that the messaging is properly conveyed in the localized versions, with none of the nuance or compliance lost in translation.
Last but not least, we can help create style guides and design repeatable, automated checks to ensure that the correct, compliant terminology is used in all translations – particularly for keywords and numeric content, which often carry regulatory implications. While these mechanisms cannot fully replace existing legal review processes, they can deliver major time savings and provide an additional safety net. What’s more, these same tools will help you leverage repetition to minimize translation costs and improve the quality and consistency of your localized content.
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