5 Steps To A Consistent Brand Voice, Across The Globe

Global companies know the importance of maintaining a consistent brand voice across different languages.

But managing that brand voice in languages that you don’t speak can be a real challenge. Think about how long it takes to craft perfect prose in your native tongue. Choosing optimal diction, style, tone, and intended emotional impact takes time. Imagine having to do the same thing – in the same voice – across multiple foreign languages! We all rely on translators to skillfully – and properly – adapt our content into their native languages. Don’t let your lack of control over your translation process drive you to the brink of madness! Instead, consider these five steps to ensure your brand voice maintains the same feel and emotional impact in any language.

1.    Build and Maintain a Brand Glossary

When you hired English copywriters, you likely provided them with brand guidelines, product terms, and general creative direction. Go back to those guidelines and key terms that define your brand and repurpose them into a brand glossary for your translators. Ask translators to adapt your glossary into their native languages, providing a brief rationale on each of their translation choices.

As your brand terminology grows, continue to build your glossary.

Extra credit: Send the now-bilingual glossary to a second translator for audit. This not only provides you quality assurance, but also offers a glimpse into how your primary translator’s work will be perceived by your target market.


2.    Identify a Language Captain

If you provided the same piece of content to five different translators, then you’d surely get five different translations back. Language is subjective. Identify a trusted captain for each language who ensures consistency and on-brand messaging for all completed translations.

Not sure where to find a language captain? Start by considering your internal employees, ideally one who is a native speaker of the translated language, and resides in your target market. If the search isn’t that simple – and it won’t always be! – then select an external translator or a reliable translation service.

Find someone who maintains the final say on how your content is translated, and stick with ‘em.


3.    Set Your Translators Up for Success with Plenty of Context

Crane, date, foil, net, right, type. What do all these words have in common? They’re all homonyms: Words with the same spelling and pronunciation, but different meanings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a copy deck for translation, chock-full of ambiguous words and with absolutely no provided context!

Ambiguity poisons translations. Include visual or creative assets when you send your translators copy for translations. Show your translators exactly how the words are laid out in your marketing materials. Set them up for success by briefing them on your campaigns.


4.    Utilize Translation Memory to Achieve Consistency – and Cut Costs

Not familiar with translation memory? Many businesses are not – but they should be. Translation memory is a technology that’s actually a few decades old. It captures previously translated content and optimizes it for reuse on future materials. It helps reduce costs, saves precious time, and aids in quality control by emphasizing consistency.

Today’s translation memory applications have evolved quite a bit. Nearly all translation memories are transferrable from one provide or translator to the next. So, ensure you ask providers to discount repeat content. And don’t forget to read the fine print in your service agreements! Verify that you retain the rights to your own translation memories. That way, you can take them with you to a new provider whenever you’d like.


5.    Close the Loop in Your Translation Process, Every Single Time

Believe me, I know dealing with the cumbersome translation process from start to finish is exhausting. Typically, once a translator returns completed work to a company, it’s not quite ready for distribution. Your company likely irons out the translated copy with in-country marketing teams or language captains, and eventually settles on a translation that’s a bit different from that which your translator originally submitted.

Don’t forget to go back to the original translator to close the loop. Provide them with the updated, final product so translation memories can be updated. Verify your glossaries and style guides are revised, too.

It’s a little extra work, sure, but remaining diligent about this step will save you time in the future – and help your voice stay on-brand anywhere in the world.

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