What Is Business Translation? The Definitive Guide


Pawel Tatarek

27 Mar 2023

9 min. read


As companies expand globally, they need to overcome linguistic barriers to communicate effectively with their partners and prospects. That’s when business translation comes in.

This article will help you understand what is business translation, its types, and uses. We also look at the business translation challenges and the benefits of using a professional translation service. We wrap it up with 7 tips on improving your business translation process.

Pro tip: Streamline your business translation and localization process with Centus, a cloud-based localization management system. Translation memories, machine translation, collaboration tools, integrations with your toolstack - Centus has got it all. Learn more.

What Is Business Translation?

Business translation is the systematic translation of business-related content to one or several languages. Small companies usually rely on individual translators, while enterprises use translation agencies for their business translation needs.

Business translation is essential for international companies or those planning global expansion.

6 Types of Business Translation

Content that businesses need to translate falls into 6 broad categories.

Technical translation

The following types of documents require technical translation:

  • User manuals with installation and usage instructions, feature descriptions, specs, and troubleshooting guidance.

  • Technical reports with summaries of technical research, including experimentation and data analysis processes.

  • Product specifications detailing product features, functions, and performance

  • Safety manuals with information on the safe use and maintenance of a product or system, including warnings, precautions, and emergency procedures.

  • White papers featuring an in-depth technical exploration of a topic or issue, including research, and analysis.

Learn the ins and outs of document translation in our comprehensive guide.

Types of technical translation

Company communication translation

Corporate communication translation involves the translation of all internal and external communication documents.

  • Emails and instant messages including announcements, reminders, or policy changes

  • Letters for official communication with global business partners, clients, or shareholders

  • Memos to communicate updates or instructions

  • Newsletters to share company news and updates

Marketing translation

Marketing translation enables companies to communicate with their prospects and project an attractive brand image.

This includes translating:

  • Website content

  • Social media content

  • Advertising assets such as social media and paid internet ads, TV commercials, flyers, and brochures

  • Product descriptions and packaging

  • Email newsletters and marketing campaigns

  • Press releases and media kits to shape the brand narrative and messaging

Digital Marketing channels

Source: MarketingGuru

Apart from communicating information, effective marketing translation needs to evoke the intended emotional response in the target audience. Achieving this requires transcreating the content rather than translating it word for word.

Industry-specific translations

Industry-specific translations are normally required by companies operating in technical or niche sectors. Examples include healthcare, IT energy, finance, and legal industries. That’s where translators with subject matter expertise are particularly useful.

Legal translation

Legal translation involves translating legal documentation to support business operations overseas.

These could include:

  • Contracts and agreements with partners, employees, suppliers, etc.

  • Court documents

  • Intellectual property documents, like patents, trademarks, and copyrights

  • Legal correspondence

  • Certificates and licenses

This is probably one of the most challenging kinds of business translation. It requires knowledge of legal terminology and concepts as well as high attention to detail.

Depending on the country’s legal system, translation may need to be done by certified translators, to make it valid and legally binding.

Financial translation

Financial translation deals with the money side of business operations. This includes translating documents like:

  • Financial reports and statements, such as annual reports, balance sheets, income statements, and cashflow statements

  • Audit reports

  • Investment prospectuses outlining financial performance for potential investors

This kind of translation requires high accuracy to ensure the conveyed information is reliable.

Challenges of Business Translation

Businesses face a number of challenges related to business translation. Some of the major ones are:

  • Quantity of content that needs translating could be overwhelming. Therefore, it’s important to establish a reliable translation process and leverage technologies like machine translation.

  • Fragmentation happens when dispersed teams or freelancers are involved and results in a slow pace, lack of accountability, and version control issues.

  • Global brand consistency is difficult to achieve because a company’s message needs to be adjusted to the cultural reality of each target market.

  • Accuracy and quality can be undermined by inexperienced translators, thereby disrupting business communication with its stakeholders.

Benefits of Professional Business Translation Services

To avoid the risks and challenges of business translation, many companies opt for professional translation services.

What are the benefits of using a professional translation company?

  • Higher quality: A translation service does not only source the best translators but also provides robust QA.

  • Lower risk: Poor translation subjects your company to the higher risk of customer complaints, lost deals, and even litigation

  • Consistency: A translation services agency handling a translation project is more likely to deliver content that is consistent in its tone and messaging.

  • Access to the right experts: Established language service providers (LSPs) have well-developed networks of translators with industry-specific expertise. This is particularly valuable when you’re entering a new market and have no contacts of your own.

  • Efficiency and cost-effectiveness: While agencies may cost more than in-house experts, they translate faster and better, saving you money in the long run.

  • Cultural sensitivity: A translation agency operating in the target market has better knowledge of the cultural norms and expectations which is essential for transcreation and localization projects.

  • No awkward blunders: Substandard quality and lack of cultural sensitivity could lead to embarrassing and potentially expensive marketing blunders that can undermine your brand image. Professional translators specializing in marketing may help you avoid them.

7 Best Practices for Business Translation

How do you go about setting up and running business translation projects in your company? Let’s look at the tips that will help you streamline your translation process.

#1 Harness the power of machine translation for large projects

Machine translation can reduce the cost and time needed to deliver large business translation projects.

Even though machine translation tools shouldn’t be used to deliver the final product, they’re perfectly capable of translating huge amounts of text into multiple languages and to a decent standard.

Leveraging them, human translators and editors can focus on the more creative parts of the job and QA.

UI of DeepL translator

Source: DeepL/Wikipedia

#2 Build translation memory and termbase

Translation memories (TMs) and termbases require initial time and money investment to develop. However, the investment pays off in the long run.

That’s because TMs and termbases improve the quality, speed, and consistency of translation while reducing its cost.

How so?

Most types of business translation, apart from marketing content, involve repetitive content that can be reused.

How translation memories work

#3 Leverage SMEs in your organization

Business translation often requires subject matter expertise (SME). For projects involving technical content, look for translators with practical experience in the field.

Your second-best bet is experienced business translators working in tandem with your company’s SMEs. This will give translators access to the knowledge required to deliver accurate and reliable translation.

#4 Make it a team effort

Delivering translation projects is a cross-functional effort. Apart from translators, it involves managers, SMEs, marketers, designers, local partners, and for digital products, also developers and QA engineers.

To ensure project success, create effective communication channels and invest in collaboration tools.

Involve your cross-functional colleagues

Source: Flickr

#5 Centralize your processes for easy coordination

With all the people involved, centralization is essential to avoid fragmentation and inconsistency.

Make sure that all the team members use the same

  • processes

  • translation memories and glossaries

  • templates

  • tools

Store translation resources in a central knowledge hub and make them available to everyone involved in the project.

Advantages of process centralization

Source: The Investors Book

#6 Choose the right translation and localization software

Managing business translation projects in your organization requires a robust translation and localization tool.

What features should your translation management system offer? Look out for tools supporting:

  • Translation memories

  • Glossaries/Term bases of company/sector-specific terminology

  • Quality Assurance features

  • AI-powered machine translation

  • Import/Export of various document types

  • Version control

  • Screenshots and extra text fields for context

  • Rule-based automation

  • Collaboration tools

  • Integrations and webhooks

  • Cloud-based setup for centralization

Centus is a professional localization management suite that ticks all these boxes. Learn more about it here.

Centus platform

#7 Take advantage of integrations

Integrations with a localization management platform deserve a separate section because they can accelerate your project tenfold.

Depending on your business, you may be using some of these tools:

  • CMS tools (e.g. WordPress)

  • Storage services (e.g. Google Drive)

  • Customer support platforms (e.g. Zendesk)

  • Design tools (e.g. Adobe XD)

  • Code repositories (e.g. Github)

  • Marketing tools (e.g. Salesforce Marketing Cloud)

  • E-commerce platforms (e.g. Shopify)

Linking them with your translation software is essential for effective collaboration, version control, and quality assurance.

WordPress Content Management System

Source: WordPress

Key Takeaways

  • Business translation, which involves translating source documents into target languages, is essential for successful international expansion.

  • The most common types of content for business translation are technical documents, company communications, marketing assets, legal texts, and industry-specific content.

  • Some of the key challenges of business translation include coping with high volumes of text, maintaining global brand consistency, combating fragmentation, and delivering accurate content.

  • Businesses can ensure good quality of translation and save a lot of time and resources by using business translation services.

  • When managing business translation, create centralized processes and leverage the expertise of your colleagues from various departments.

  • Choosing the right translation software that will help you speed up the translation process and ensure adequate quality of the translated content. Learn more.


What content do businesses need to translate?

The content that a business may need to translate depends on its size, industry, business model, and the products or services it offers. Some of the most common types of business translation include marketing collateral, legal documents and contracts, internal SOPs, and technical documentation.

What are some good business translation tools?

If you want a quick machine translation tool, both Google Translate and DeepL show excellent results. However, most companies opt for translation management platforms, like Centus.

What is the importance of business translation?

Business translation is necessary for effective communication with your international partners and team members in your branches abroad. It gives businesses a competitive advantage as it enables them to expand into different markets and attract new customers. Finally, business translation is essential for legal reasons.

What are examples of business translation?

A company translating its website into other languages is a good example of business translation. This allows the business to reach new customers and expand into new markets. Normally, such translation involves elements of localization, for example, to display pricing in the right currency.

What is a business translation strategy?

A business translation strategy is a plan that details how a company will manage its translation needs for effective communication with its target audience. This includes the choice of language, translation tools, QA procedures, and the use of business document translation services. The strategy should be based on company goals, audience, and budget.

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