4 reasons why a TMS can help companies manage and protect their brand
When consumers buy a certain product, they are also buying who your brand is and what it represents. Brand image and reputation is paramount to companies, and they allocate growing resources to this area year on year. Nowadays the content that companies send out to their global audiences has to be on point in order to maintain that image. Conveying that message into a few dozen languages can be a challenge, which is why consistency in localized content is key and you need the right technology to do it. A translation management system has been proven to be the essential technology to enable this consistency thanks to its native features, but how exactly does it help companies protect their brand as they land in foreign markets for the first time?
Why is having centralized language assets key to a brand’s image?
When a company decides to go global, their localization journey begins. With time, they start building their language assets as their content is localized but, at this stage, many are unaware that by not having a strategy in place in terms of where their content is located, they could be causing serious damage to their brand.
Organizations with a low level of content maturity, in other words, with a very basic strategy in place and an outdated and rigid technology stack, lack the necessary localization awareness to realize that not having a centralized model in place is a serious problem. How? John Weisgerber, an Xpert at XTM who specializes in localization, explains a common scenario for companies that are just starting out in localization: “A normal operating environment for companies as they are starting to go global, is that each unit or department with a need for translation do their own thing without communicating with other departments. Each has their own content and goals, and search for solutions individually, which is the source of all efficiency issues.”
If each department in a company, such as marketing, legal, product, software, etc. uses this approach without any communication between them, it’s highly likely that each of them will employ a different language-service provider with different linguists, different systems and, most critically, different language assets. This process shows no apparent issues until the different types of content reach their respective audiences, and this is where the problems begin.
For example, if your brand slogan is translated into formal Spanish for Argentina but into informal Spanish for Uruguay, the perception of the brand in the eyes of the audience will be completely different in countries which are in the same geographical region. If the inconsistency concerns terminology, it can be particularly problematic. Say you are a manufacturing company and your marketing content translates one of your products as a ‘bolt’, but product content calls it a ‘pin’. This means that you will be effectively selling the same product with two different names, causing confusion among your customers. These issues can affect the company on many different levels, from sales to SEO rankings and even reputation, especially in a world where news travels fast in social media and everyone loves a corporate gaffe.
The way to solve this problem is by centralizing all language assets, and the most effective way to do that is with a translation management system. Translation management systems (TMS) are technological solutions which can store all your language assets (translation memories, glossaries and terminology bases) so that translators can leverage them and apply consistent terminology and tone to their translations, no matter what type of content they are translating. Good TMSs are also vendor agnostic, which means that companies are able to give their language-service providers access to them as they see fit, allowing them to choose the best supplier for that particular task. This means that everyone working on translating content for a particular company will be leveraging the same language assets thanks to this centralized model, and by doing so their brand voice and message will be more consistent, coherent and, by extension, of a higher quality. With all content using the same keywords, messaging, SEO, and by only calling the item a ‘bolt’ or using an informal tone in all South American markets, the brand’s image will be strengthened and its message will have the effectiveness it was intended to have, no matter what part of the world it’s sent out to.
A TMS gives your localization program the transparency it needs when applying a multi-vendor strategy but, more importantly, it centralizes and gives you ownership of all your language assets. Owning your own language assets gives you more control over how they are used and allows all linguists to immediately apply any changes you may make to them. Consistency drives quality, and quality content is key if you want to maintain your brand’s image across global markets.
How does a TMS help use the right message and tone in different content types?
There are many reasons why the translation of the same text excerpt may need to be done differently. Website copy can be considerably more verbose than, say, the content you publish on a mobile app, which will need to be shorter. The tone that you use for an email campaign designed to generate leads should not be the same as the tone needed for the instructions manual for your product. And yet, all of these content types, for all devices, will require the use of the same keywords and terminology to maintain your brand message. How is it possible to separate both concepts yet use them together?
Translation management systems allow companies to have different translation memories (TMs) as part of their language assets which are designated for a specific content type. Therefore, they can have a different TM for marketing, legal, product, software or any other type of content that they wish to be translated separately, yet all of them have the same brand essence in the shape of keywords and brand personality.
This approach is particularly important for companies that have different product lines that may not have a lot of things in common. Highly illustrative examples for this would be a fashion company which offers its products to adults and teenagers, or an automotive company whose car models target different demographics. The message you will want to convey to a 65-year-old person buying a sweater will not have the same tone of voice as the one marketing the newest and coolest sneakers to an 18-year prospective customer; or the message and tone used to sell luxury saloon cars to executive clients may not work for clients searching for practical, urban vehicles. With a single TM for all content, there will be a single message for all fashion items and all vehicles, but with separate TMs, the tone will diversify yet still maintain your brand essence.
Having this range of TMs helps localization managers decide which are the most appropriate linguistic assets for a specific project and package them together appropriately by putting together the TM, terminology base and glossary that are tailored to that particular content rather than having a single linguistic asset for everything and leveraging translation matches which are not relevant and would not perform well for that particular product or market.
Cross-TM leverage is also a useful option if a particular project combines, for example, marketing and product. If you have a marketing project to promote a specific product and have a considerable amount of translated content in your Product TM but nothing related to that product in your Marketing TM, localization or project managers can package both translation memories for translators to leverage. For this process, and so that linguists know that they need to make some modifications, a penalty can be applied to one of the TMs, in this particular example to the Product one, so translators will not see 100% matches but 96% matches instead. This way, they will know that they need to make changes to the Product translation to Marketing with the right tone of voice. This process maximizes productivity and efficiency and also helps maintain your brand personality throughout your global content.
The more your company grows, the more content types you are likely to need to localize, which is why having a scalable TMS that can grow with you is key if you want to localize all of your content appropriately. A TMS allows you to have as many translation memories as you wish and pair them with your other language assets for maximum efficiency. Therefore, remember to diversify your language assets if you want to maintain your message’s effectiveness across all content types without compromising your brand’s signature tone and personality.
How can you manage your SEO with a TMS?
Companies invest a lot of money on SEO research and on trying to improve it in order to rank higher in search-engine results. Attracting more visitors to your website, improving conversion rate and increasing brand awareness are just some of the most important benefits that come with optimized SEO, which is why keeping it consistent across all your global markets is key to your brand’s success — what is known as Multilingual SEO.
Even though we talk about keywords, SEO keywords can vary in length and are not restricted to a single word; instead, they can be longer than that, which is known as mid-tail keywords (2-3 words long) or long-tail keywords (4+ words long). Therefore, these keywords can be stored in glossaries or translation memories alike, making language assets key in the creation of localized content when it comes to SEO.
For this reason, it’s very important that linguists receive SEO instructions clearly to implement them in translations. A TMS allows linguists to leverage different glossaries, TMs and term bases in which entries can be personalized with instructions or tags, clearly indicating when a term is an SEO keyword to ensure that it is used. The use of the appropriate SEO keywords can also be ensured with customizable quality-assurance (QA) checks, another native feature in a TMS which can be particularly helpful if different keywords need to be used in different content types.
In a recent webinar conducted by XTM on Multilingual SEO, 53% of attendants did not manage their SEO through their TMS, and 13% of respondents were not sure. This means that two-thirds of the audience ran the risk of incurring in SEO confusion, especially when it comes to keywords which have different meanings in different locales of the same language. For example, everyone knows that amigo means ”friend’ in Spanish, but if you want to say ‘friend’ in Venezuela, you use the word pana. Incidentally, pana in Spain actually means ‘corduroy’. If you have the word ‘friend’ as an SEO keyword and your markets include Spain and countries in South America, not having a technology which can make this distinction clear to linguists or even in machine translation can considerably reduce your SEO efficiency and damage your brand’s image in that particular country.
It’s important to remember that languages have different variations depending on the country, and that some SEO keywords may have a completely different meaning in other countries where the same language is spoken. For this reason, you need localization technology that allows you to identify these differences so that your SEO for all your global markets is accurate and effective.
Connectivity — an essential feature to meet your customers’ expectations
Meeting customer expectations is key to all companies, and every time a new market is introduced in their global strategy, the brand’s reputation is on the line. A common scenario for many companies is performing the balancing act between trying to go to market as soon as possible but doing so in optimal conditions, i.e. not sending out content which is not ready. The key to meeting your time-to-market deadlines whilst still putting out content which matches your brand image and personality is automation, and connectivity is arguably the most important of them all for this particular scenario.
Connectors allow companies to connect their content system to their TMS, so that they can manage their translation process from a single platform. By integrating the TMS into where their content is created, projects can be created, sent and delivered automatically, so that marketing specialists can see what localized content looks like in their user interface before sending it out to their global audiences. This is important for the following reasons:
- Prevents any unnecessary design mishaps derived from character limits
- Enables continuous localization, so that linguists are leveraging the most up-to-date content when translating – especially useful for content which is updated often
- Reduces manual tasks and communication and allows for content to be localized more quickly, helping companies launch their products in foreign markets more quickly
Without a TMS, manual tasks and their related delays, such as queries, software-labeling issues in the translation and offline communication, mean that the localized content takes time to be finalized before it can be published, and this can cause issues with a brand’s image and reputation if the product launch is delayed due to its related content not being ready in time. A TMS with a connector completely removes all these manual tasks and automates them, ensuring that linguists have everything they need from the get-go (linguistic assets, in-context visualization, query-management modules, glossaries, TMs, etc.) and can start translating straight away.
Having your global content with a high level of quality and ready in a timely fashion will allow you to launch your product on time and, therefore, meet your customers’ expectations while also maintaining your brand personality thanks to the centralization of all your language assets.
TMS providers offer a series of out-of-the-box connectors for a wide range of content systems which are ready to use straight away with the translation management system. However, providers who regularly update their connectors is a clear sign that they care about improving their technology and its user experience. When choosing a TMS, seeing that it offers connectors which are on their third and fourth versions clearly shows that they are committed to giving their customers the best possible experience.
A lot of time, money and effort is spent by companies coining their brand personality, message and tone, which is why it’s important for them to be conveyed wherever in the world the company is present. Centralization of language assets, connectivity and SEO are the key features in achieving this, but in order for them to be truly effective they need to be deployed together. For this reason, the technology employed in this localization process must integrate all of these features and allow them to perform simultaneously, which is why a TMS is an indispensable tool for companies that wish to protect their brand image, allowing them to hit the ground running as they make that all-important landing in their new markets.