When we talk to CPG brands, one question they often ask is why they need a compliance agency. Isn’t a translation agency enough? What’s the difference between what a translation company does and what you do? 

Then we explain the key differences, and they quickly see the added value of using a compliance agency to localise products and packaging. 

However, many CPG companies still assume that translation companies will handle their compliance needs. Which puts them in a potentially vulnerable position. 

We want to address this common misconception to help your brand explore international growth opportunities in a low-risk manner. Here’s more information on the difference between a translation agency and a product compliance agency – and why just converting content into local languages isn’t always enough to ensure success. 

What does a translation agency do? 

Before we outline the differences between translation houses and compliance experts, we must establish what each of them does. 

Without stating the obvious, a translation agency converts content into different languages. This could be anything from product packaging and labelling to marketing and point of sale material. 

Translation agencies are used by food, drink and beauty companies of all sizes, from start-ups to international enterprises. This is because they are a cost-effective way to:

  • Translate text into multiple languages
  • Localise content for end customers (rather than translating text literally)
  • Apply the correct industry terminology for each market  
  • Proofread product collateral (a fresh pair of eyes is always useful!)
  • Manage multiple translation projects 

Outsourcing your packaging and marketing translation to an agency can accelerate time-to-market and increase your global reach without the expense of hiring in-house translators. 

But while a translation agency will ensure your wording is accurate, they aren’t trained to check whether your content and formatting meet industry regulations. And this is where using a compliance agency can add extra value.  

What does a compliance agency do? 

To ensure your brand meets legal requirements when growing internationally, you need to partner with a compliance agency. It’s their job to check that products are formulated to local regulations and are packaged and labelled correctly for each consumer market. 

A good compliance agency will support your complete product lifecycle, providing practical support and tactical guidance at every stage: 

  • Product ideation/NPD – a CPG expert will analyse the compliance of new product formulas and recipes in your target markets, and research product claims to differentiate you from competitors. 
  • Product specification – your compliance agency will ensure product composition follows industry regulations, create product specification documents for each product line and collect evidence to validate product claims.
  • Product launch/growth – compliance agencies can adapt recipes and packaging design/artwork for international markets. They’ll also help with researching queries from in-market agents such as retailers and distributors, and developing operational workflows to ensure product quality and compliance are maintained at scale.
  • Product optimisation – for established products, a CPG expert will support updates to recipes and packaging to ensure your business maintains a compliant position. And they can help you to boost sales by validating new product claims and developing recommendations for product range expansion.

The biggest advantage of outsourcing compliance to an external agency is their breadth and depth of expertise. Your business can access a global network of CPG specialists at a much lower price than recruiting the same resources in-house.

Do product compliance agencies offer translation services? 

Most CPG brands see the value of both translation and compliance services but can’t always budget for both. However, you can strike a happy medium by looking for an agency that offers combined compliance and language localisation services – like Hooley Brown. 

There are many benefits to choosing a true localisation agency, which looks after both the legal and linguistic aspects of product development and distribution. For example:  

  • Someone’s always looking at your products and strategies holistically
  • Packaging and labelling are fully localised (language, formatting and legislation)
  • It’s easy to make scalable decisions, e.g. ingredient choices, multi-language labelling
  • No delays or expensive reworks; compliance is incorporated from day one
  • Everything is channelled through the same team for simplicity and consistency 
  • You’re only paying one set of agency fees

With a full-service agency, you’ll get all the advantages of outsourcing product translation and compliance that we’ve outlined in this post, delivered through a single point of contact. 

Plus, a compliance agency can add combined value – for example, optimising your product packaging by suggesting the most effective language clustering for export labelling. 

Translation versus compliance agency: what’s best for my business? 

Naturally, we’re going to tell you that a compliance agency trumps a translation agency in terms of brand value, because that’s what we do. But it’s no accident that we’ve created a combined legal and language support service. 

Our founders have been in the CPG industry for decades, and we’ve seen the consequences of treating translation and compliance as two separate entities. Greater cost, complexity and constraint. All of which could have been avoided if products were compliant by design. 

Hooley Brown is a new breed of CPG agency that looks at product and packaging development unilaterally. Helping brands to localise offerings in an affordable, scalable way. 

Book a free call with Hooley Brown to discuss your growth plans and how our localisation services can accelerate your time to market. 

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