Impact of inconsistent terminology management

July 21, 2014 12:09 pm


What is the impact of inconsistent terminology management in companies on us, consumers?

Creating a strong, consistent corporate identity is the most effective way for business success. In order to get new consumers and keep existing ones, a company needs to grab their attention by means of an active marketing approach, which includes an eye-catching product and/or service branding strategy. When communicating with clients, it is of foremost importance to choose the right words and any other non-verbal means of communication, so that consumers can remember the brand and relate it with the products and/or services of that specific company.

Consumers however also need other type of information – usage and problem solving related. This brings us to technical documentation, where documents such as guides, specifications, reports, online help and even marketing material are included. All these documents are part a knowledge base that, in particular without consistent use and management of terminology, can be misused, the information in it misunderstood, and may even lead to business failure.

Within a company, terminology – and the need of terminology management – is present at different levels. One can identify at least three: corporate terminology – as part of communication in and among companies; process terminology – used in the communication by the different players that take part in the production of a product or service; and product and/or service terminology – which follows the whole product lifecycle, from development to marketing.

Terminology is not necessarily about creating each and every word that a company uses. It is a communication process that includes management and control of key terms that constitute the corporate identity. The use of consistent, precise and adequate to target audience terminology within and outside the company – from the engineer to the end-user – is therefore essential to make proof of and guarantee the quality of a company’s products or services, and, as a consequence to its success.

Benefits of performing terminology work

We have listed below the main benefits of terminology management from the consumer point of view.

• Happier consumer due to consistent communication, i.e. websites, brochures, guides, reports and giveaways, which leads to a better understanding of the company’s business orientation and its products and/or services. That often leads to higher sales and, therefore, more profit, because the consumer will remain faithful to the products and/or services of that company and spread the word – word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools a company can have.

• What you see is what you get. Consumer’s familiarisation, trust and satisfaction with the brand and, consequently, with the quality of the products and/or services of a company, due to crystal clear and adequate corporate wording.

• Easier and faster customer service due to consistent use of corporate wording and expressions across all units in a company: development, technical communication, marketing, training, legal, delivery and sales. The bigger the companies, the more complex the wording usage. In order to avoid misunderstandings, and because all units do need to communicate with each other, an agreement on the wording used is needed, so that the consumer can profit on that.

• Effective B2B communication management leading to a closer relationship among the different business partners – where there is a client/consumer relationship as well. That can only be achieved via acknowledged consistent use of wording and expressions of products and/or services throughout the whole value chain.


Higher quality of texts and lower costs of text production, and consequently easier and faster translation and localisation management, are not the only means of obtaining profit out of implementing and performing terminology work. What really matters at the end is consumer’ satisfaction. Without harmonised terminology management, the spread of different wordings for the same products and/or services not only confuses consumers but also keeps them aside. That highly justifies the need of corporate consciousness on the importance of terminology to the business world.



Translations of technical documentation” [17.07.2014]

Terminology Management in Companies” [17.07.2014]

Tekom study: Cost and effectiveness of terminology work” [17.07.2014]



Ana Rita Remígio, PhD
President of the Portuguese Association for Technical Communication – APCOMTEC
Researcher at the Centro de Linguística of the New University of Lisbon and at the Centro de Línguas, Literaturas e Culturas of the University of Aveiro
Trainee at TermCoord

Paulina Lewandowska, BA,
University of Vienna
ECQA Certified Terminology Manager & translator at Interlingua Language Services – ILS GmbH, Vienna, Austria
member of European Association for Technical Communication – tekom Europe e.V.
Trainee at TermCoord


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