Ever play telephone as a kid? It was a game lots of children played on the bus, at school lunch or while waiting in lines.
The concept is simple, all you have to do is relay a message from one person to another. One person thinks of a message and tells it to the person on their left, that person is only allowed to hear the message once and then must pass on what they believe the message is to the person to their left. This goes on for as many people there are participating until the person who created the original message receives the relayed message.
What makes this game so entertaining is that by the end of the line the relayed message would be completely different from the original message. More often than not, The kid at the end of the line would say what the altered message is and burst out laughing before s/he could tell everyone what the original message was.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what can happen to your marketing and brand message in a distributed environment. The message gets fuzzier and more warped as it travels down the line from global, to regional, to local.
So how can you prevent this from happening?
In a previous post, I discussed the use and implementation of a style guide for your marketing assets. To get the full description read Alterations and Resizing artwork can be Repetitive and Stressful on In-house Designers. Here are Some Simple Solutions.
This concept can by used in this scenario as well, but with different applications. It often helps to create multiple guides that serve different purposes. The style guide aids your designers in their design and alteration efforts for marketing collateral, but to keep the brand messaging consistent across regions, it is also important to have a message guide.
This document would contain the word copy of messages approved by the company. The guide should include standard messages for generic brand promotion and any messages that pertain to marketing campaigns the company is running.
As new campaigns are developed and launched the guide must be updated to ensure that the messages revolving around the company brand at the time are consistent.
Having a message guide also helps to prevent any grammatical or spelling errors. If the users are able to copy the text directly from the guide there is less of a chance for error to occur.
If your company spans global regions it may be pertinent for you to generate a translation guide as well. No marketing campaign crashes harder than one whose translated messages mean something entirely different in the new language.
For example KFC’s brand message “Finger Licking Good” when launched in China was translated to mean “eat your fingers off,” which to say the least, was a tad off-putting for chinese consumers.
Having a translation guide would ensure that any new marketing campaign messages are translated correctly and that your standard branding is never misinterpreted.