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

Oftentimes, global brands develop and share new brand identities with other regions and believe they’re successfully localized. However, twelve months down the line, they find that they’ve developed multiple brand personalities across regions, making the original brand guideline almost 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 (ToV) guide, a glossary and (if you are translating content) a translation memory – three key tools for avoiding brand dilution.

1. FIND YOUR BRAND 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 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.

male street vendor sells belts and accessories on the roadWHAT 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?

A brand voice is first established and then written 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 also be included to bring existing text in line with the new guidelines and show what the tone of voice looks like when it’s applied. 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 needs to be localized in an increasing number of languages and varying target cultures. To maintain 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?

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.

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 upfront will save you frustration, time and money later on.

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

3. ENSURE BRAND 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.

books on a wooden bookshelfWHAT 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 take the form 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. Likewise, 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 (e.g. 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. It’s also a huge cost-saver for clients because 100% of 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.

In your people selection process, you should recruit copywriters and linguists who match your brand personality and can, thus, effectively capture and communicate it accurately.

Quarterly content audits are also advised to ensure copy is consistently on brand across all markets and in line with the structures and setup agreed by HQ and the local markets. Similarly, receiving regular reports on how glossaries and TMs have been used and maintained will help you gain insight to the extent local markets adopt and adhere to brand guidelines. Localization workflow tools, such as our proprietary ‘WordXtra’ system, should provide perspective and transparency into local markets’ brand consistency.

FINAL THOUGHT

Achieving consistent branding across all content types and languages is not easy; after all, it requires strategic preparation and maintenance.

Our experience has taught us that frameworks are essential, but these frameworks shouldn’t solely focus on a brand’s central vision without also valuing local markets’ knowledge of what works in their respective regions. We’ve helped facilitate and review brand localization processes for several clients, using this brand toolkit. We have found that ToV guides, glossaries and TMs, ultimately, provide successfully on-brand results. Get in touch, and learn how we can help.