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December 9, 2019

Standardizing company terminology

Do your customers know the right words to search for? Does marketing refer to your product one way while the tech team refers to it another? Inconsistent word use causes confusion within your company and negatively affects customers’ perception of your brand. So what causes the inconsistencies, and how do you fix them?

Causes of inconsistent terminology 

A common cause of inconsistent terminology across organizations is lack of communication among departments. If a company has multiple departments creating content in independent silos, the problem worsens. 

For example, marketing, tech writing, and training teams all create content. One team focuses on selling the product and others on documenting the product, but the information must remain consistent. 

Without communication across departments, inconsistent terms are likely. The discrepancies can cause confusion both internally and among clients and potential clients. 

Suggestions for standardizing terminology 

It’s time to put a clear set of content standards in place if your company doesn’t have any. Consider delegating resources to focus solely on content governance, the enforcement of said standards. Before defining your terminology standards, complete an audit of terms in use across the company. Use the audit to identify any terms that are preferred and terms that should be avoided. 

Once you’ve defined your terminology standards, keep them updated to reflect product and branding changes. Consistently governing content standards will ensure employees aren’t using outdated and incorrect information. Consider implementing a terminology management system to reduce the amount of editing time required. 

Understand that there may be some change resistance when implementing new standards. Most likely each department will think the way they have been writing is the right way. Rather than choosing a “winner,” look at the analytics and statistics related to the content changes you are making. Use data and facts to back up the decisions for your content standards. 

Before introducing any changes to the company as a whole, make your case to the executives and get them on your side. Their support will ultimately help alleviate any change resistance. 

Benefits of terminology standards 

Setting up and enforcing terminology standards will give your company’s departments and customers a clearer perception of your brand, products, and services.

If your company translates content or plans to in the future, standardizing your terminology is essential. Localizing your content with clear terminology standards in place will save you time, money, and ensure better quality translations. 

Your company’s search engine optimization will also benefit from terminology standards. Enforcing consistent word use throughout your organization will provide clients and potential clients with a better understanding of what they should be searching for. This will improve your overall visibility on the web and help increase the quality of traffic your website receives. 

Terminology standards are an important piece of your content strategy. If you need help improving content consistency and setting up content standards, contact us