Translation memory: the secret tool to creating cost-effective, brand-consistent translations

By Acclaro
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Translation memory: the secret tool to creating cost-effective, brand-consistent translations

Congratulations, your business is expanding into new markets and you want to reach new prospects! Now comes the hard part.

If you’re reading this, you understand the importance of brand consistency–especially when communicating to new cultures across global markets. Savvy marketers have invested into expert, high-quality translation services that help you reach your target market with precision. However, precision and expertise can come at a steep cost if your translation partner is not using the right tools, particularly if your company plans to continue expansion into new markets or upgrade current assets in the future.

Luckily, there’s a secret weapon that gives you the best of both worlds: high-quality translation and cost-controlling countermeasures. With long-term insurance to boot. The answer is “translation memory” software.

Before we explain what translation memory is, we should start with what it’s not. This isn’t HAL2000 from A Space Odyssey that you simply “boot up,” “run” and let loose upon your company translations. “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

What is translation memory?

Translation memory turns human translation into superhuman translation–with professional human translators at the helm. Translation memory software is a database of every sentence and its translation equivalent in any combination of languages. When utilized during one of your projects, as an example, it would store all translations and be readily accessible for project updates and cross-pollination across all company assets.

In short, it’s a powerful, efficient cheat sheet for brand-specific translation. With the power of translation memory at their command, a human translator can quickly “pre-process” new English text against stored translations within your projects.

Hopefully you can see the immediate–and future–benefits for your company. The top two benefits are cost-savings and brand consistency, which we explore further below, with examples.

The cost-saving benefits of translation memory

Imagine having a vault of previously stored translations, readily available in a translation “cheat sheet,” in the hands of an expert, human translator. Large chunks of your translations, which would usually take substantial hours without translation memory, can now seamlessly transfer over. The translator has the option to review and reuse previously translated content that has already been identified as correct, and is unique to your company.

This is translation with scale

No more starting from scratch. No more inconsistencies. No more long waits and numerous back-and-forths.

A few examples of areas where large amounts of repetitions are found include software strings, web content and legal and technical documentation.

Case study: software & web content updates

Think of a smartphone app that was initially translated into ten languages. That application is updated every two weeks through a typical agile software development process. But in the update, there are only 50 updated strings that have been changed.

Without translation memory? You send your translation team the entire file with all of their strings. Even though only 50 strings need translation.

With translation memory? We can isolate the 50 strings that have been changed, called the delta, and just translate those. You only have to pay for what’s been changed, plus a small translation memory management fee.

Web content is very similar to software, because once your site has been translated, only small tweaks or updates are typically required. Translation memory allows us to isolate those changes only to save you time and money.

Case study: technical documentation updates

Technical documents are not known for their brevity. So let’s say you make a charging station for electric cars, and you sell that unit all over the world. Before you release this year’s model, you must first update the 180-page manual that comes with each unit. Does every page require translation? Rarely. In this example, 85% of your content is identical, but there are tweaks to functionality and features.

Without translation memory? A costly, 1-to-1 translation of 180 pages.

With translation memory? We can simply reuse the unchanged content from the earlier version and focus in on what’s new. Cost-savings can range from 50 to 80% compared to full translation services.

Consistency benefits of translation memory

Whether your audience is your internal team, dealers or customers and prospects around the globe, consistency is imperative to the success of your company.

Your company most likely has a brand style guide, which helps every touchpoint understand the do’s and don’ts of your organization. Translation memory is no different.

Think of translation memory as a company playbook that evolves over time to keep your products, assets and communication within a singular voice. It is the cornerstone of your brand story and guides all future translations down a focused path. This way, anyone who works on a project in the future has all the tools necessary to translate with confidence.

Case study: social gaming new releases

Acclaro works with a major social gaming company that releases new games every week. Each game has a similar look and feel as previous games so players can seamlessly enjoy them.

In most cases, only the graphics and core game objectives change. Even the instructions are almost identical. To this company, cost savings are important, but of core importance is a consistency in look, feel and terminology among games.

A game developer’s worst nightmare is confusing its players. By utilizing translation memory, Acclaro can help offer players a comfortable, familiar gaming experience across platforms.

To this particular customer, consistency of voice and ease of use are essential to their success.

Put the power of translation memory to work

There are no quick fixes in translation. If savings are found with a “least expensive” translation vendor, quality is at risk. If quality is guaranteed, high costs are sure to follow. The beauty of translation memory is that quality and consistency can be maintained with the added benefit of cost-savings.

You deserve to get the most out of all your language assets, whether that includes global product guides that reach millions or corporate communications to your internal team. Growing a brand across international markets requires a long-term investment for success.

However, with a proven translation team by your side, using the latest translation tools such as translation memory, your company can expand into new markets with confidence, knowing that quality, cost-savings and consistency are delivered every time.

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