How to keep your brand consistent overseas

How many voices do you speak with?

Only one, presumably, unless you are Rory Bremner.

Top businesses aim to do just that. To maintain a consistent voice when presenting themselves to their market, to use integrated branding, to present the same visual image across all channels. It’s a natural attempt to ensure that they are always recognisable and that what they stand for is never compromised.

Things become more complicated if the business operates internationally:
foreign markets mean foreign cultures to align with, foreign sensibilities to be aware of, and forbarfeign languages to communicate in. By now we’ve all seen (and had a good laugh at) those advertising slogans that were rehashed to comically bad effect for an overseas market – like the soft drink that apparently “brings your ancestors back from the dead” in China or the Iranian detergent whose name was left as “Barf” in English …

Localising your communications professionally is obviously a sensible thing to do, if you want to avoid embarrassing howlers like that.

Consistency counts

But beyond that basic level, some businesses translate their website, press releases, mailshots, slogans and catalogues but fail to do so consistently. Perhaps the PR agency uses one translator, the marketing department uses another, and the legal office tries to translate in house. The result is uneven quality, a mishmash of styles and terminology, and a generally haphazard and disconnected tone of voice.

The most effective way to ensure a coherent brand image in your external communications is to use the same native-language copywriter (translator) for all texts. Or at least to have them review all the foreign-language texts to keep them aligned and check that the terminology is consistent. That requires a certain amount of planning, both to coordinate different teams and organisations and to contact the translator in good enough time to make sure that they are available to finish the job when you need it.

That way, your organisation can speak to your overseas markets and stakeholders with a single clear, coherent and appealing voice.

You’ve invested a lot in creating it. It’s well worth maintaining.

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