As the saying goes, failing to prepare means preparing to fail. Without setting up secure protection for your brand’s voice, it will be diluted over time and eventually drowned out.

At Wordbank, there’s a story we hear time and time again. The epic brand battle between HQ and the regions that goes something like this:

An amazing new brand identity is developed by HQ and shared with the regions. Aforementioned new ‘global’ brand is increasingly brought in line with what works ‘locally.’ Twelve months down the line, multiple brand personalities have been developed – sometimes as many as one new persona per region. Original brand guidelines are unrecognizable.

For a brand to succeed, it needs to localize for each market but avoid brand fragmentation. To achieve this, it’s important to build what we call ‘scaffolding’ around the brand identity in the shape of a brand toolkit that includes a Tone of Voice guide, a glossary and (if you are translating content) a Translation Memory.

1. FIND YOUR VOICE

Your brand voice should be consistent, but your tone will change depending on the audience. Therefore, it’s essential that you build a clear tone of voice (ToV) guide for each market, making sure the adaptation stays close to the core brand and is signed off by HQ. Accuracy is important, but you also want to speak to your customers, prospects and partners in a tone that is on brand, culturally appropriate and suitably engaging.

WHAT IS A TOV GUIDE?

A ToV guide is basically a style guide that includes guidance on common grammatical, spelling and editorial queries. It also contains examples of what to say, how to say it and what to avoid across a multitude of formats and channels.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Firstly, a brand voice will be established, which is then committed to writing, along with an explanation of how the tone should sound in different channels, from brochures to CRM and press releases. A list of ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples will be compiled to bring existing text in line with the new guidelines and show what the tone of voice looks like in practical terms. Once it has been approved in the master language, the guide can then be localized for the other markets.

WHY USE A TOV GUIDE?

To ensure consistency, it’s good to get your tone of voice down in writing. Finding and maintaining a tone of voice can be tricky when writing copy for a broad range of digital and print communications. It’s even harder when the content is localized since the number of languages involved grows and the target cultures vary increasingly. To ensure consistency and increase local market engagement, we recommend that your localization partner adapts your core tone of voice guide for each target language or market.

2. DEFINE YOUR TERMS

We always recommend that our clients create and maintain a glossary in each language, or at the very least for their priority markets.

WHAT IS A GLOSSARY?

A glossary is a database that allows you to define specific terms relevant to your company, brand or industry. These terms are then exclusively used to ensure consistency across all communication channels. A multilingual glossary contains the master language glossary along with an approved translation or localization of these terms. This allows your translators to use the approved target language terms consistently when creating or localizing global content and reduces the risk of producing off-brand content.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Firstly, keywords are selected according to agreed criteria, such as product names, warranty terms, brand language and company department names. Approved translations of these terms are then added and made available to the entire translation team, ensuring consistent use from the outset.

WHY USE A GLOSSARY?

The more content you create, the greater the need for consistency. Every time you add more languages, locations, products or acquisitions, the data volume increases exponentially. As a result, inconsistencies become more likely and terminology can spiral out of control. Clarifying terminology today will save you frustration, time and money tomorrow.

WHAT ARE THE KEY BENEFITS?
  • Quality assurance
  • Consistency
  • Saved time
  • Cost reduction

3. ENSURE CONSISTENCY

If you’re localizing large volumes of similar content into the same languages, a Translation Memory is an effective way of ensuring consistency and saving time and money.

WHAT IS A TRANSLATION MEMORY?

A Translation Memory, or TM, is a translation database that automatically stores text. Setting up and managing a TM supports our linguists and provides cost savings and efficiencies for our clients.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

A Translation Memory is used to store segments of text as translation units in source and target language pairs. These text fragments can be formed of sentences, paragraphs, headings, titles or elements in a list, and can then be re-used during the next piece of relevant translation work. This means that you won’t have to translate, or pay for, the same sentence twice. The more content you translate, the larger your TM will be and so the volume of ‘new’ content to be translated each time will shrink.

WHY USE A TM?

A TM is really effective when the content for translation contains a lot of repetition (for example, product descriptions, functional copy, or instruction manuals).

Any duplicate segments will be translated consistently, using the previously approved, accurate translation. This saves time because the linguists don’t have to manually review previously translated content to find language matches. And it’s a huge cost-saver for clients because 100% or so-called ‘fuzzy’ matches are charged at reduced rates.

WHAT ARE THE KEY BENEFITS?
  • Cost reduction
  • Quality assurance
  • Consistency
  • Speed

SECURING YOUR BRAND IDENTITY

The infrastructure that a ToV, glossary and TM provides can really help to anchor brand identity, but to safeguard it, it’s important to carefully select the right people to create or localize copy.

We’ve expanded on this in our blog, A Case For Maintenance.

Using the frameworks defined in our aforementioned blog, you should recruit copywriters and linguists who match your brand personality and can thus effectively capture and express this defined identity.

Quarterly content audits are also advised to ensure copy is consistently on brand across all markets in line with the structures and setup agreed by HQ and the local markets. Similarly, receiving regular reports on how the glossary and TMs have been used and maintained will help you build a picture of the extent to which local markets are buying into and adopting the brand guidelines. Any good localization workflow perspective tool, such as our proprietary ‘WordXtra’ system, should offer you this transparency.

FINAL THOUGHT

Achieving consistent brand communication across all content types and languages is not a pipedream, but it does require strategic preparation and maintenance.

Our experience has taught us that frameworks are essential, but these frameworks shouldn’t follow the brand’s central holistic vision blindly – they should also value local markets’ knowledge of what works in their respective regions. We’ve worked with many brands to facilitate that collaboration and with a vigilant review process, the results are exceptional.