Style never goes out of style. At least not in writing. And good writing can go a long way to build the image of a brand. Read on to see why.
I am re-reading The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker (do read it!) and I find that many concepts and suggestions apply directly to translation as well.
Take the initial explanation of why style matters in writing (too):
1. It ensures that writers will get their messages across, sparing readers from squandering their precious moments on earth deciphering opaque prose.
2. Style earns trust. If readers can see that a writer cares about consistency and accuracy in their prose, they will be reassured that the writer cares about those virtues in conduct. [Brands, take note!]
3. Style adds beauty to the world.
Isn’t that true for translation as well?
I think style matters in all kinds of translation (I know, I may be biassed), but it especially does in marketing and creative translation (a.k.a. transcreation).
A good, coherent, on-brand style can mean avoiding costly errors and frustration. And entrusting your original, well-crafted, streamlined text to a professional that can make it justice in their mother tongue is fundamental to avoid losing all the hard work which goes into producing a good text.
Being able to give off a sense of style means being a mature writer, translator or brand. It means giving off a sense of confidence, which tells your audience those words reflect your attitude in life and work.
It also means writing having the audience in mind, with the purpose of clearly communicating information, concept, attitude, state of mind. And not your skills as a writer or translator.
“Omit needless words” is an advice you frequently find in style guides and one which Pinker says found most useful. Less is more is certainly a peculiarity of good writing, and it’s an ability which requires lots of work and experience.
Streamlined or simple does not mean poor or dull. On the contrary, the thoughtful choice of the right words for context, audience, media and format make writing shine brighter.
As Pinker adds, “good writing can flip the way the world is perceived”: a terrible and beautiful ability.
In marketing writing and translation, style also means crafting a tone of voice in tune with a brand’s or a company’s identity. I talked about the benefits of having a brand style guide here, but a couple of points worth mentioning again are that:
- A consistent style – or tone of voice – ensures consistency and clarity.
- Consistency builds trust and reliability. And it creates a relatable public persona.
- It also builds a personality which sets you apart from the competition.
So, don’t give good writing and good translation for granted. They both take time, study, skills and perfection to be mastered and they are both extremely powerful tools to convey your unique style.