How to build a strong brand voice? The style guide localization (Part 3)

You read our Style Guide part 1 and part 2 and gave your editorial style guide a try. You described your tone and voice. The sentence length is there, and your guideline is brimming with examples.  

You did it—for your English-speaking market, that is. 

Now it’s time to make your Chinese, Spanish, or French website be on-brand, on-point, and on-market.

Cue style guide localization, the last—and arguably most important—piece of the puzzle. 

How do you approach it?

The prep step: hire a transcreator before localizing your style guide

When it comes to localizing, you can’t translate it.  You need to recreate it. Your localized style guide should look and feel as if it were originally written in the target language and for the target culture. But most importantly, it should reflect some basic principles of usage.

Here’s an example:

Imagine you opted for an informal tone and voice in your English style guide. When localizing it into French, it would come naturally to write your customers should be addressed with tu, not the more formal vous.

But on the French side of the net, everyone is using the vous form. The level of (in)formality is conveyed by other writing elements. It means that technically formal and de facto formal isn’t the same thing.

That’s why this job calls for a transcreator: an expert linguist fluent in target language and a flair for writing compelling copy. Most importantly, a transcreator is someone well-versed in usage.

Your localized style guide: the contents

1. Start off with an introduction

It’s not for pleasantries. 

99% of the time, you will outsource the content creation and translation. The introduction should help them get to know you and understand what your business is about. So kick off with information  like: 

  • Company mission and vision
  • Your values
  • Products you offer

2. Define your audience

Defining your target audience is crucial because your translators will have a clear picture of whom they are writing for. They will be able to solve a translation problem, knowing whom the text is written for.

3. List the items you don’t want to translate

Having accurate translations is important. Knowing what shouldn’t be translated is paramount. List the app names, product names, and other things you want to keep in English.

4. Build a strong termbase

Sit with your transcreator and compile a list of terms that your local writers should stick to. It will help avoid synonyms that don’t fit with the brand voice.

Pro tip:

If you’re betting on SEO (who doesn’t?), pair your transcreator with a digital marketing expert for a few hours. Make sure your on-brand termbase is keyword-optimized, too.

5. Create a changelog

And add it at the very top of your localized style guide. 

Let’s be realistic. You can’t expect your writers and translators to read the whole style guide every time there is an update. Do them a favor and highlight what’s new.

Let’s wrap up the Style Guide Series

A simple style guide will save you hours of back-and-forths between writers, translators, and your marketing teams. Your nifty proofreaders will spend time polishing the message instead of correcting basic mistakes.

Just remember these few golden rules:

  • Show, don’t tell. The more examples you give, the more efficient your style guide will be 
  • In defining your tone and voice, use the “this but not that” structure. It will help curb exceedingly creative flair.
  • Hire a transcreator for localizing your style guide. If you don’t have one, drop us a line. We might have just the resource you need.