What is corporate language management?

How can corporate identity also be reflected in language?

Particularly in the export industry, the language used in product-related information texts (e.g. operating instructions) is not always given the attention it deserves, and the company’s own corporate identity is violated. Not infrequently, the production costs for “successful language” are decisive for this. With Content Language Management, quality and costs can be controlled and competitiveness increased.

Without language, there is no communication, and no product descriptions either. And manufacturing processes cannot be designed and optimized without language either. Language is therefore a critical means of production. As with all other means of production, costs are incurred when dealing with language. How high these costs are has hardly been investigated so far. In the business world, a rule of thumb is that the translation budget alone amounts to about 1 per mille of sales for companies in the manufacturing industry. This does not yet take into account the costs of document creation and management. If the total costs for the creation and management of documents in sometimes many language combinations are analyzed, profit-relevant orders of magnitude can quickly be reached, especially in the exporting economy.

However, there are other aspects involved, in particular addressing the right target group. In the USA, numerous companies already systematically use corporate language management (CLM) – in this country, this aspect of management is still hardly taken into account.

What is corporate language management?

Most companies are already thinking about corporate identity (CI). As a rule, however, this is reduced to the visual appearance: to the company logo, to the company colors, to fonts and font sizes, and so on. In the case of larger companies, the so-called CI guidelines can comprise 100 or more printed pages. It goes without saying that the CI guidelines are checked and approved by the top management. It is often overlooked that the corporate identity and the identity of products and services are not only shaped by their appearance. The correct use of language within a company, or the use of a uniform corporate language, leaves an impression on the outside world that is at least as formative and therefore either positive or, in the worst case, negative.

It is not enough to delegate this task to the company’s marketing department. Here, as with CI, management is initially called upon. Only when the company management has recognized the important role of language as a means of production or communication can the course be set in the direction of developing a CLM.

5 Components of Corporate Language Management

Successful corporate language management includes the following components:

1. Terminology Management

  • What terminology is used in the company, which designations are permitted and which must be sorted out?
  • How is the terminology managed internally in the company so that everyone has access to it?

2. Content-Management

  • How are texts and documents created, which company-internal writing rules have to be observed?

3. Document-Management

  • More generally, how are documents managed so that they can be quickly retrieved and recycled?

4. Translation-Management

  • How can the documents created be transferred into the necessary foreign languages as cost-effectively as possible?

5. Quality-Management

  • Crucial to the success of digitization projects in the field of corporate language management is the question of quality management. Digitized solutions are available today for this as well.


Authors: Dr. Wolfgang Sturz (Xing / LinkedIn) | Transline & Prof. Dr. Michael Schaffner (Xing LinkedIn) | FOM Hochschule

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