Using a company style guide to improve translation quality

Every person has a unique style of communication, something that makes them unique and recognizable. In business it is the same with each company, the brand they represent, the people that work in it and this makes the company a personality as well. Each company has its own voice that is unique and so is the way of providing information – sends a personal message. Take brands like Zara and United Colors of Benetton for example: both are companies of the same class and appeal to people in the same segment. The way they approach their customers, however, is entirely different. Benetton uses a friendly, informal style of communication, while Zara is more conservative and straightforward.

These differences are what we call a brand’s identity. When a third-party needs help in creating materials true to the said brand, that is when the style guide (also referred to as a brand guide) comes in. But it becomes even more complicated when the said company would aim for a different market because with different markets come language and culture differences, where translation and localization is needed to send the proper message. Otherwise even the best product might not be successful to a new market. But how do we transmit this to the translation company which will do the work for us?

This is what we will aim to discover further down in this article:

What is it needed for?

To answer the above question in short: it is a guidebook for translators and interpreters on a company’s preferences and unique approach to their customers that builds the image of their brand and makes them different from the other competitors in the same segment.

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A style guide might turn out to be vital for a company’s image especially when translating and localizing its materials. Consistency is what increases client engagement and creates a stable and trustworthy image. The translation quality does not depend only on how good the translation company you’ve chosen is, but also on how well your product will be accepted by your target group.

This is even more important than the brand itself when it comes to Asian markets. The philosophy of each country there is different and so are the target groups living there.

Let’s take as an example the following:

In many countries in Asia (Korea, Thailand) the pale and clear skin is a preferred feature and is considered a feature of beauty, so skin products in Asia would aim for sun protection, whitening products, and flawless complexion, while in US or Europe a bronze tan is considered just as attractive and is preferred when you come back from vacation for example.

This poses for a different positioning and product portfolio for the various markets. Which on its hand, leads to adjusting the tone of voice, the marketing materials, and all the rest in order to appeal to the right target audience.

Using a style guide increases the efficiency of a translation task and speeds up the process, which, respectively, makes the whole procedure less costly, too. Such a guidebook greatly improves the translation quality, as your translators have a clear idea about the company’s style and customers, and their working process is not restricted or slowed down by having to stop and clarify every small detail of the end product.

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Who should do this for your company?

Style guideA style guide is an instrument that ensures the successful market positioning of a company or a product. Thus, it has to be created by a marketer that has a clear idea of your brand’s identity and mission. It has to be a person that is familiar with all the small details about your company’s approach such as the tone of voice, the material’s objective, the target audience’s profile, the company’s catchphrases, or special words, etc.

How to create it, so it is useful for a translation company?

A brand guide is meant to improve the overall and translation quality of an end product. But how does one create it?

  • Identify the target

First of all, before creating a material to be published, one has to have their target audience identified. This means that there should be a lot of information about key demographic details such as age, sex, region, education level, and any other lifestyle indicators.

  • Specify a tone of voice and approach

Every company has its own unique style of communicating with their clients. Whether the approach would be formal or informal, friendly or neutral, simple or elevated, this should be specified in your style guide.

  • Include all specific terms or formatting requirements

If there are any terms or phrases specific to your company, industry or audience, make sure to include them in the guidebook. This also refers to any special formatting requirements that are in any way connected to your brand’s image.

  • Use examples and provide references

Make sure to provide enough examples of what you want and what you would like to avoid in your company’s material. Images or other visual information about the end product can also be of great importance to the translator.

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All in all, a guide on your company’s identity is a simple but very powerful instrument that will ensure that the translation company you have chosen, will be on the right track when translating and localizing your company’s materials. The information in it saves time to both sides and makes a partnership easier and more efficient. If your company hasn’t developed such, do consider this as your next step in order to achieve a better understanding of the brand you are developing. In the future, this will help the translators which you will hire to speak your brand voice better in other languages, too. This on the other hand will give you an excellent chance on the foreign markets you are aiming for.