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Maximizing Impact by Keeping Your Brand Consistent Across Multiple Markets

Call it the global imperative conundrum: Your brand stands for something in your home market, and whether it was by hiring an agency or doing the work in-house, you’ve allocated mountains of resources to keep your communications with customers, prospects, and staff all in a consistent voice to guarantee growth and efficiency. And now? You need to do the same thing across multiple markets – without running afoul of local cultural sensitivities. In short, you must adapt to Rome without giving up the identity you worked so hard to create. And that’s where a content review of your brand’s source material is invaluable.

Brand Voice Vs. Personality: Let’s Make It Personal, Then Go to Business

Consider an illustration we’ve referenced before: As an individual traveling to a different culture, your personality remains the same at home and in the host country. How you display that personality changes – it adapts to suit the local custom.

If you’re a warm, outgoing person in the U.S., it’s displayed by a quick smile and being fast to extend a handshake, making eye contact, and using your first name.

Are these the correct customs to reflect your personality in Italy? What about Japan? It takes a little research to know for sure.

As an individual, you’ll probably do some internet searches, maybe call a friend who’s traveled there before to understand the local customs. The goal isn’t to change who you are but to meet the locals in the way they expect.

Content Review: The Foundation for Global Source Readiness

Just like researching local customs before you arrive, a content review looks at all your material to keep multi-market messaging aligned and, most importantly, optimized for the local culture. The goal is to flag areas of concern, offense, brand misalignment, and cultural insensitivity while working with your team to make sure your brand looks and sounds as appealing in its new market as it is in your home market. Because when you nail market suitability, you reap larger user engagement and higher customer retention.

Flag Problems Now. Reap the Rewards Later

As they say, it’s best to stop problems before they start. A source content review looks over your starting materials to spot challenges that will have to be addressed for the new market.

Doing this now can mitigate several pain points in the localization cycle by facilitating early-term harvesting or query resolution, helping with descriptions of tags or idiomatic expressions, and flagging content that might be deemed difficult or insensitive in other cultures.

Anticipating Cultural Trouble Spots: Accessibility and Sensitivity Reading

A careful reading of source content with an eye toward the new target market will anticipate issues for translation, such as complex language, topics or examples that don’t make sense in the cultural context, and concepts that would be considered offensive to the target market.

A classic example of the latter is the “Got Milk?” campaign, which was understood to be humorous in the English-speaking American market but had to be adapted for the Spanish-speaking Latin American market due to the cultural understanding that the woman of the house handled grocery needs – and being caught in a situation without an item would imply the woman was lacking in her duties.

Term Harvesting

Surveying the source material lets you spot the key terms for your specific industry and brand voice that will need to be translated consistently, taking target market suitability into account. Content complexity comes into play here as the list of terms grows, the technical skill required in the industry increases, and the domain expertise of the brand grows.

Beyond Text: Multimedia Areas of Concern

With more consumers viewing videos and animations, paying attention to your multimedia and flagging areas of concern for cultural appropriateness is essential. For instance, in some markets, a man and a woman conducting business alone in an office would be considered offensive. The scene may need to be edited to avoid offense.

Content Review Deliverables

Once you’ve assessed the materials and understand the desired outcome, you’ll be able to create 3 essential tools to accomplish the goal of maintaining your brand voice while adapting to the culture and staying consistent in future communications:

  1. Terms Glossary — This is the translation output of the specialized terms harvested during the review. With a glossary created, translators will have the pertinent information and standard translations you have agreed are best for your industry and brand voice before they begin translating.
  2. Style Guide — These are guidelines created to suit your stylistic needs and are informed by the source voice, grammatical preferences, content structure, etc. Your style guide should reflect your brand’s DNA and be the reference document for future translations.
  3. Content Brief — This guide covers all other relevant contextual information not included in the term glossary or the style guide. Armed with the brief, the translator understands what they’re translating, why, and the target audience.

Need A Content Review? We’re Here to Help

Reviewing your content early in the process ensures your brand’s core message is well captured, understood, and represented. And when the core message is honed and well understood, the translation output is more accurate and relatable to the target audience.

But don’t think you have to pull this daunting task off all by yourself. We’ve over a decade of experience in the localization quality world, helping brands leap into new markets without losing their voice. And we’d love to help you too!

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