The business of language

WordFrog’s team of language and packaging compliance experts ensures nothing gets lost in translation

Photo: WordFrog founder, Mélanie Bernier

IT OFTEN TENDS to be an afterthought, or something so ubiquitous that it often goes unnoticed in English Canada — French translations on product packaging. Often, it’s simply viewed as technical requirement, but when every word on your product’s packaging, or in a company press release, is there for a reason — whether to attract customers, establish a brand, communicate safety instructions or just offer directions for use — translation becomes just as important as composition.

“Translation is like writing,” says Mélanie Bernier, founder of WordFrog, a translation and regulatory compliance service launched seven years ago here in London. “To translate properly, you need to be a very good English writer, and a very good French writer.”

What often happens, says Bernier, is an entrepreneur will have a great product, a bona fide local hit — something that’s flying off the shelves at local farmer’s markets, for example, with orders flooding into their inbox faster than they can keep up with. The company starts to grow its customer base, standardizing packaging, settling on a brand identity. Then, perhaps a grocery or retail chain comes calling, wanting to put that great product on shelves nationwide.

“And that’s where a lot of people hit this snag, and then they’re in a crunch,” says Bernier.

At some point in the future, Bernier figures technology will catch up to the point where it can accurately (and artfully) translate most documents. But until then, there is simply no substitute for a specialist

The product gets approved, but the label does not — either because it fails to be bilingual or it doesn’t meet regulatory requirements, or both. What seems like an irresistibly quick fix — “No problem, let’s just ask Sue in HR to translate this, she’s bilingual” — gets bogged down and delayed, and all that energy behind your company’s growth stalls out as your packaging goes through round after round of regulatory review. What seemed like such a simple fix before suddenly turns into a major bottleneck.

Enter WordFrog. “I always tell my clients that it’s better to do it right the first time,” Bernier says. “Even for a local product if you have any intention of selling it to a mass distributor, just do it right the first time and you never have to worry about it.”

In the seven years it has been in business, WordFrog’s services have grown beyond simple translation jobs and into full-service packaging compliance, ensuring that “everything that’s required,” from translation to mandatory information, is covered. Past client assignments range from regulatory tightropes like developing packaging for the heavily regulated cannabis industry to translating safety manuals for barbecues.

Got some appealing, dynamic copy that needs to be translated? WordFrog has you covered. Need someone to take a deep look at your packaging to meet stringent regulations? WordFrog can take care of that, too.

The business of language  HighlightsWordFrog’s offices at 100 Kellogg Lane

WordFrog is now growing beyond its translation roots, expanding into packaging compliance both here in and in the American market. Whether you need someone involved in the process from square one, or an expert set of eyes to check work already done, Bernier works with a roster of freelancers, ranging from graphic design to a Bosnian-English translator and beyond to offer comprehensive compliance services. All of it stands to save a growing company time and money, and an investment in specialty translation services is a cost-effective way to prevent costly reprints and to cut down on packaging revision time.

At some point in the future, Bernier figures technology will catch up to the point where it can accurately (and artfully) translate most documents. But until then, there is simply no substitute for a specialist.

“You wouldn’t just hire whomever in your company to do the copywriting. You wouldn’t just hire a random person in your company to write your press release, right?” Bernier says. “It’s a skill, and if you’re not used to translating, it’s a very time-consuming process.”

In the end, it comes down to time and money, Bernier says. WordFrog can save you both — not to mention many maux de tête down the line.

For a timely estimate on the cost and turnaround time for your translation, media or packaging compliance project, or to ask any questions that you may have about WordFrog services, click here

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