Apple. Mercedes-Benz. Louis Vuitton. For consumers around the world, each of those names promises an experience no other company offers. And that perception of value fuels billions of dollars in sales, from Manhattan to Mumbai.
If your business wants similar results, you need to ensure buyers everywhere have consistent, positive perceptions of your company and its products. But when you take your brand into new languages and regions, you always run the risk that your message will veer off target.
So how companies maintain brand recognition and equity across all the languages and regions that matter for their success? Let’s see how you can avoid common pitfalls and ensure high-quality multilingual branding.
What Is Multilingual Branding?
Branding encompasses all your efforts to influence consumers’ perceptions of your business and what it sells. You want specific ideas and positive emotions to come to consumers’ minds whenever they think of your company, so you can build equity in your brand.
To achieve this goal, your content and messaging will typically repeat certain elements again and again. For example:
- The image and words in your logo
- Company slogans, tag lines, or catchphrases
- Key words and phrases describing your products
- The voice and style of your content, from your company website to videos, apps, and games
Multilingual branding aims at adapting such brand-focused communications to languages and regions beyond your original market. It’s one of the key aspects of localization your business needs to get right—so wherever you go, consumers will have a favorable attitude toward your company and products.
Why Multilingual Branding Fails
When you move into a new market, you face the challenge of translating your brand message into the local language and cultural context. At times, a misstep results in a major disaster. More often, smaller problems accumulate and degrade the impact of your branding over time.
So what problems can undermine the positive reception of your brand?
Lack of consistency: If multilingual content deviates from your core messaging, you could lose influence over consumers’ brand perceptions. The more markets you operate in, the more you risk such problems. For example, your marketing team in another country could create translations or original content that clash with the branding approach devised at your headquarters.
Inaccurate or imprecise translation: Errors in translation can cause all kinds of trouble for your brand. An advertising tag line may work well in your home market, only to fall flat or cause offense when translated in a literal way. Likewise, a misleading product description could cause disappointment for your customers and harm your brand’s reputation.
Voice and style flaws: Translators and content creators can misrepresent your brand in more subtle ways, so that your message fails to connect with the market. If your brand revolves around glamour and sophistication, for instance, your communications need to capture the right voice and style in your target language—or else you may not reach the consumers you want.
Design miscues: When design meets language and symbolism, mistakes can result in unpleasant surprises for your brand. Nike, for example, ran into unexpected trouble with Muslim audiences in 2019 after releasing shoes with a logo that accidentally resembled the word for “God” in Arabic.
Tips for Staying on Target
How can you avoid such problems and ensure your multilingual branding connects with consumers? If you follow these best practices for quality assurance, you’ll have a better chance of hitting the mark.
- Centralize control of your branding
How can you keep your branding consistent across languages and regions, while leaving room for thoughtful localization? One way is to develop and distribute internal tools to ensure consistent branding across regions—for example, brand and style guidelines in local languages. Such materials need to be checked for quality and accuracy, just like any other content.
The right training can ensure local marketing and sales teams understand the nuances of your brand messaging and goals. At the same time, regional or in-country staff may have critical insights that could alter your messaging for a given locale—so be sure to gather their feedback and take it into account.
- Create a strong QA process for multilingual communications
A streamlined, consistent process of quality review can boost the effectiveness of your multilingual branding. First and foremost, this means employing a QA team with the right linguistic skills to vet your translation vendor’s work—whether through internal review or outsourcing to a third-party review service.
For high-quality results, create clearly defined workflows that ensure consistent and speedy review of all multilingual materials, so you know they are accurate and true to your brand. Put your localization vendor and QA team in close communication with each other, and assign clear roles so everyone knows who needs to review what, and when.
- Make brand accuracy a priority for QA
In setting priorities with your QA team, specify accurate, consistent branding as one of your key goals. Language quality reviews should not only assess technical points of grammar, vocabulary, and style, but should also check for voice and tone, the nuances of your brand messaging, and alignment with your brand guidelines.
Local knowledge is key to successful multilingual branding. Your messaging may require tweaks for different regions, even those that share a common language, such as Portugal and Brazil. So ensure your QA team employs specialists who know the specific locales and communities you want to reach.
- Make sure all quality reviews are comprehensive
Your quality management process should cover all the materials that influence your branding in other languages. These include:
- All translated content, including content aimed at end users
- Original content developed in the target language, whether at headquarters or at regional branches
- Internal materials that impact brand communications, such as style guides
- Brand design elements, such as logos
- Any content or products developed for your home market, if you plan to distribute them in other markets or languages
Put Your Brand in a Position to Succeed
As your company expands into more languages and markets, you’re likely to encounter more challenges in adapting your branding to a multilingual world. As a result, you need the right expertise to assist you. A third-party language quality management provider can advise you on developing and implementing the QA process you need.
Interested in learning more about multilingual branding and language quality management? Contact Beyont for more information.