Have you ever wondered how some international brands can be so instantly recognizable? In some cases, you can identify a brand just by the colours, style and font wherever in the world you come across them!
When it comes to cross-cultural branding and instant global recognition, one of the most outstanding examples is the Heartbrand launched in 1998 as an effort to increase international brand awareness:
What makes this example even more interesting, is the fact that Unilever’s heartbrand is sold in more than 40 countries around the world. However, it is sold under different brand names in order to maintain the familiarity and connection with the brand name built over many years, so even if you buy a Wall’s ice cream in the UK, an Algida ice cream in Italy or a Frigo ice cream in Spain you can be sure you are buying the same product thanks to the distinctive logo.
This type of brand recognition – the worldwide consistency of image and message that the marketing teams throughout different brands and sectors strive to convey – happens thanks to the use of translation style guides. Each style guide is unique, depending on the industry, tone of voice and target audience.
To give you a quick example, let’s say you are a hotel owner and want to drive your reader’s attention to the amenities that your hotel offers:
“You can relax in our swimming pool with clean water after you have seen the local tourist attractions.”
“Enjoy your moment of relax nearby our cristaline water swimming pool after a day of sightseeing.”
The messages are the same, neither is better or worse than the other, but the intention behind the two is clearly different.
It is crucial that your translations reflect the initial intention of your brand message. If you have invested a good deal of time and resources crafting a brand identity that resonates with your customers,you can’t risk losing that brand message when localizing your content for other markets, with different cultural backgrounds.
By establishing a style guide per language, you can preempt typical translation issues, such as inconsistent terminology, inappropriate form of address, incorrect use of corporate imagery etc. A language style guide can be based on your global brand guide and tweaked for translation purposes. It generally takes around 10 hours to create it, which may sound a lot, but in fact it will save you and your colleagues hours and hours of revisions when approving the localized content.
What to expect on a Translation Style Guide?
To give you a clearer idea, here are some of most important elements that a translation style guide should include:
Clearly identify your target audience and add a detailed description of your buyer personas profile
Voice and tone style
Should the translations keep a formal, informal or neutral tone? Which form of address should you use with your audience?
How should proprietary terms, product names and product features be handled? If you have a terminology database, make sure this is specified in the translation style guide.
Grammar, syntax and orthography
Remember to specify rules concerning accents, date and time, units of measurement, abbreviations, numbering and punctuation conventions.
Specify which colours are allowed and consider whether some colours might have a negative impact in certain localizations. Specify whether your logo has a tagline that needs to be translated or not. Decide whether pictures of people need to reflect the audience of a certain market or not.
Of course, you can add as many sections as you wish based on your specific needs. Have a look at some superstar startup brand guides here. You will see that there is no limit to the imagination and information to be included – such as animal examples to explain why you should pick orange instead of green, and much more.
Now that you have taken the time to write instructions and examples to be on the same page with the translators, how will a translation company guarantee that you did not waste your time in creating all this information? Make sure that your language provider confirms that:
- Translators and reviewers adhere at all times to the guidelines
- Quality checks are based on the specific information contained in the style guide
- All other staff involved, like the desktop publishing experts, can also revert back to the guide in case they have some doubts on the specifications in a certain language
- In case of any doubts they will check with you
Share with us any other key aspect that should be included in any translation style guide in the comments section below!
Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to receive content like this directly in your inbox!