Translation Memory: An Essential Tool For Global Brand Marketers

Translation Memory: An Essential Tool For Global Brand Marketers
Dimitris Glezos
February 29, 2016
4 min read

As a brand marketer, you pay attention to every detail of expressing who you are to your customers: the messaging used to convey your value proposition, the tone of voice employed to deliver that message, and the colors, iconography, and imagery you’ve developed as a visual representation of your value. In sum, you’ve created a personality for your business, and if you’ve done your job well, you’ve managed to achieve an emotional connection with your customers – a connection that enhances the relationship between you and your customers above and beyond the value delivered by your products.

Tailoring Your Brand For Global Markets

If your business is serving multiple global markets, it’s likely you’ve taken that same level of care in adapting your brand definition to new markets. You understand that each country is unique in its preferences for colors, imagery, and acceptance of communication styles – be they more or less formal. To launch in each new market, you’ve taken the time to create unique taglines, for example, that have been developed with these sensitivities in mind. You’ve probably worked with your translation provider to create adapted company boilerplate statements for use in global press releases, and company backgrounders for the local sales team. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve effectively “localized” your brand, going beyond translation to make the modifications necessary to appeal to each local audience.

Now that you’ve done the heavy lifting, how do you make sure your hard work isn’t undermined by the daily pressures of getting out the next campaign in multiple countries? How can you rest easy knowing that each new action taken by your field marketing teams will enhance the (adapted) brand you’ve worked so diligently to create? Translation Memory (TM) is a key tool to helping you protect your investment.

So What’s Translation Memory?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, or if you think translation memory only applies to your product team, you need to understand what TM is and what benefits it can deliver to you.

Translation memory is a database that captures the translations approved by your organization over time. The TM stores source text and its corresponding translation in language pairs called “translation units.” These units can be sentences, paragraphs, or sentence-like snippets. Translators can then access these prior translations when they are working on new, similar content undergoing translation.

TM Advantages

There are obvious economic advantages to leveraging translation memory in your workflow:

  • Translators can work at a faster pace, delivering more translations in a given time period.
  • If your translators are company employees, this improved pace means they have more capacity and your cost per word declines accordingly.
  • If you’re using a translation agency, they typically discount their translation fees to account for “fuzzy matches” (a new translation segment that varies by only 1 or 2 words from a previous translation) or perfect matches, so you’ll save money in this scenario too.

But beyond the easily measured economic benefits, you’ll get improved consistency across your translations, even if you’re using multiple translation resources. This means that your upfront investment in tailoring your brand voice to each market where you play is protected and reinforced, rather than gradually eroded over time as resources come and go. Think of translation memory as your brand IP – a digital record of your brand development work.

TM Plays Nice With Your Other Translation Tools

TM is not a standalone solution. When used in concert with a translation glossary and style guide, you arm your team with a playbook for authentic brand experiences in every locale. For instance, you can build your translation memory from glossary terms that are commonly used for increased consistency and brand messaging. Be sure to leverage this powerful trio in all your ongoing translation and localization efforts to ensure you’re achieving the highest quality results.

Translation memory even has its own file format, TMX or Translation Memory eXchange, so it can be shared across systems as you expand your toolkit or work with new translation vendors. This portability means further protection of your global brand assets.

These translation tools are not new, but they have existed largely behind the scenes supporting professional translation agencies. Today, they are becoming more widely accessible to an array of functional professionals, from software developers to product managers to marketers. And with the global customer experience growing ever more important, we marketers can’t afford not to leverage every possible tool to help us deliver against that goal. So get acquainted with translation memory, and get more from your global brand development efforts.

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Dimitris Glezos
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