Using a Style Guide to Make Ideal Translation the Norm
You know style guides are vital for the content you create in your native language. Using the same levels of consistency to guide your translation processes is just as important, but often overlooked. Don’t let your message get muddled overseas. Implementing a translation style guide is a globalization necessity.
What is a Translation Style Guide?
Like a traditional style guide, which provides guidelines for issues like desired tone, visual style standards, and specific grammar choices, a translation style guide sets the tone for your brand. It makes international expectations and standards clear from the get-go.
It often covers traditional style guide topics, but with a focus on issues important to translation and localization. This means topics like voice, tone, and preferred word usage feature heavily.
Issues like spelling—which can vary from region to region, even in a single language—should be included in these guides. Is your company going with the British “organise,” the American “organize,” or a combination depending on where the content is going? Your translators will need to know.
A good style guide will contain background information on the company and its strategies. They also are likely to contain guidelines about translation goals. For example, should translators focus on sticking to the source as literally as possible, or should they focus on capturing the proper tone?
The goal is to create a one-stop-shop for the translators managing your content.
How Does a Terminology Glossary Fit In?
A terminology glossary makes your preferred translation of certain words unambiguous. It is essentially a list of terms and their ideal translations, as decided by your team.
This tool, which is hopefully tied to a translation memory database, improves efficiency and clarity. It may include phrases often used to describe your services, common keywords for your industry, and localized terms aimed at specific audiences.
These are the words your brand uses most often, and they are central to how you present yourself to customers. By utilizing a clear, succinct, and predetermined glossary, you remove the guesswork when it comes to these important phrases.
Limiting translator uncertainty not only improves efficiency, it also serves to strengthen your brand’s global value.
Use These Tools to Solidify Brand Personality
By employing a translation style guide and terminology glossary, you are in all likelihood informing translators around the globe. These are the “boots on the ground” who are helping take your content to new markets.
Depending on your role and company size, you may never meet or even email most of these translators. But they will play a critical role in how your brand is deployed abroad.
By providing them with a clear set of guidelines, you’ll help ensure that a diverse and global team is all on the same page. This unity of messaging helps protect one of your most valuable assets—your brand personality.
According to MarketingProfs, 20 percent of companies marketing globally identified trouble maintaining a consistent brand image and message as one of their biggest difficulties.
And this isn’t just an issue that marketing executives worry about—consistency affects customer perception in a major way.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) reported that 90 percent of consumers expect a consistent brand experience—no matter what channel or device they are using to interact with that company.
Tools like style guides and glossaries help solidify brand personality and ensure consistency company-wide. Without them, you could be left with a muddled message and a brand that is unrecognizable market-to-market.
Examine Samples Before Building Your Guide
Setting out to create a translation style guide can feel like an overwhelming task. It undoubtedly will be a large and important project. But there are plenty of resources available to help make your guide clear and comprehensive.
Opting to forego this project will not save you any time in the long run. We recommend diving in if you’re currently operating without a guide.
It’s helpful to examine the style guides of successful, worldwide organizations. Take note of what aspects you find most relevant to your organization and employ them.
Consider the World Bank’s translation style guides, available in Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. The documents feature style issues unique to each language and make preferences for key terms clear. In doing so, they help the World Bank present a consistent message across the globe.
If you’re working with a language service provider (LSP), see if they offer consulting or guide building services. These companies have worked with countless guides and should be a great resource on what to include.
Plus, LSPs have translator-side insight. Translators will be the ones crafting content based on your style guide, so it’s important to include all the information they’ll need to do so effectively. Doing so will lay the groundwork for a consistent and efficient global brand.