Welcome back – and a few hints to what comes next.

Welcome back to all my readers! I know I promised a new entry today but… I’ve been working on several identities with my designer Fabio over the summer and things are TOO busy! I can only share with you this for now – done and dusted – for Benjamin Thornton – I love it.

Simple and effective.

Simple and effective.

Yet, I cannot disclose anything else until they’re ready, approved by the client and published. So, hang in there! Also, my new website is in the pipeline and I all can share is… colour:

It's all about red after all

It’s all about red after all

I know, I know… I leave you with this suspence. But before giving you the appointment to next week, I pass on a link to an amazing book that I often mention. Enjoy!




Branding & social media: a match made in heaven

Welcome to a new #rainybrandingtuesday appointment. Today, we talk about social. Branding also means using social media correctly. I understand that not everyone is keen on social media or online tools in general, but it would be a good investment for any freelancer to at least consider being on a platform or two. I could be talking about HOW to use social media, but the reason I’m blogging about it today is to in fact stress WHY.

Off the top of my head… Why?

– SEO purposes

– visibility

– visibility

– visibility

As freelancers, it’s crucial to be found – I always repeat this in my talks, and I’m gladly repeating it until everyone understands it. For clients to hire you, they need to be able to find you. “They can find me via recommendations” – true. Yet, I’m sure all of you checked a company someone recommended before actually hire them, didn’t you? The same is valid with web presence. And a relatively basic starting point can be social media.


My tips:

  • make sure your identity / branding matches the platforms.
  • check your name is not taken (via namechk.com for example)
  • plan posting: be consistent and save time in one go.
  • respect etiquette: every means is different

As an example, on FACEBOOK you could follow these 5 golden rules

As read on Ninja Marketing (my bold):

#1 Engage in a creative way – contests and gifts

Interactivity, participation: via questions, images, to associate to the brand. In any case, just be unexpected.

#2 Post highly viral content

Iconic pictures, quotations, spelling mistakes… #grammarnazi or Grammarly.

#3 Create a faithful community by offering added value

Customise the page and make sure users can find something special. E.g. Italian lessons, useful words in other languages, flash cards, travel tips… Fan Downloads to get wallpaper, screensavers & emoticons

#4 Be fun … or at least try!

Highly social platforms must use caption this images, experience sharing, etc

#5 Become a household name

Of course Oprah is a long way from us, but try your best.

  • schedule posts: you can use Buffer or HootSuite for instance
  • check what others are doing (also follow other translators and ABOVE all, clients!)
  • interaction brings contacts that bring potential work – networking, again!
  • make your profile appealing: this is on g+ for instance 
  • invest in pictures
  • A professional headshot and you're ready to go.

    A professional headshot and you’re ready to go.

  • choose the platform wisely
Spoilt for choice. Yet, thing before you act.

Spoilt for choice. Yet, thing before you act.

And remember: these are the rules of social media: 

36 and counting...

36 and counting…

Good examples of corporate use of social media:

  1. John Lewis https://www.facebook.com/JohnLewisRetail
  2. Coca Cola https://www.facebook.com/cocacola
  3. Marie Forleo https://www.facebook.com/marieforleo
  4. Ellen Degeneres https://www.facebook.com/ellentv
  5. GoT https://www.facebook.com/GameOfThrones
  6. Louis Vuitton https://www.facebook.com/LouisVuitton

Check my platforms and see for yourself:

BLOG: rainylondontranslationsblog.wordpress.com

Twitter: @rainylondon

Rainy Branding: http://www.rainylondonbranding.com

Facebook: facebook.com/RainyLondonTranslations

Web: rainylondontranslations.com

Rainy shop: rainylondon.bigcartel.com

IG: rainylondon

Pinterest: rainylondon

LinkedIn uk.linkedin.com/in/alipertavaleriarainylondon

Your own coat of arms (aka: branding means identification)

Welcome to a new #rainybrandingtuesday!

Sometimes, when I speak at events, I get asked what is branding and why should anyone care. And I say that the original function of branding – and I know it’ll sound obvious – is standing out. Or even better, to use the jargon: identification. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones (or any other period drama / series) you will know that already back then houses wanted to stand out and be identified, by friends and enemies alike. And they used heraldry.

Evolution of Alfa Romeo

Evolution of Alfa Romeo

Westeros coats of arms, odreamed up by Nike visual designer Darrin Crescenzi.

Westeros coats of arms, redesigned by Nike visual designer Darrin Crescenzi.

Everything has a price. But brands do help shape your perception.

Everything has a price, says the King. But brands do help shape your perception.

Individuals and families, towns, regions, countries: all adopted a coat of arms (some turned into brands, in recent times, just like Alfa Romeo). In history, Plutarch (c45-c125) referred to monograms (single line). In kingdoms, the sovereign’s monogram included ‘R’ for Rex or Regina – think of ER II (Elizabeth Regina the Second), still sported on post boxes all around the country, to mention but one examples.

The Queen knows a thing or two about personalisation

The Queen knows a thing or two about personalisation

But I’ll talk about history in another post (stay tuned!). Going back to the topic of identification, today I’ll talk about the types of identification, as read in the amazing book by Per Mollerup, Marks of Excellence:

1. uniqueness

I always vouch for the importance of being different and stand out. The main goal of your logo and branding identity to make sure you HAVE a clear identity. Like a business ID card, that makes others tell who’s who in the mass. So we could say the bottom line is be different from your competitors.

2. value

Being (or not) absolutely unique brings value (and remember, we talk about the perceived value rather than the actual value here – as David Airey mentions in his Logolove). The more a logo can be noticed, the more will be remembered, hence its value.

How many times you see a logo and know what it is without actually remembering the name? That’s already how valuable that design is in the minds of consumers.

3. holding power

Grabbing attention is key in branding and is essential to make sure you capture the consumers’ eyes and hold them right there. Graphically speaking, this can be achieved with twisted images that facilitate identification and enhance the retention power. FedEx is a good example.

The key is in the arrow.

The key is in the arrow.

4. description

Some brands can include in their aspect some hints or representation of what they do/sell, like Michelin. Yet, it’s not always like that! think of Jaguar.

Bibendum is not a fat kid after all.

Bibendum is not a fat kid after all.

5. association

Digital UK is a brand that was created for the UK digital switch to decoders across the country. In a process that took a few years to complete, with London just jumping in a couple of years ago, in time of the Olympics, this brand clearly is associated with what the company does.

Digital. For the UK. Simples.

Digital. For the UK. Simples.

6. tone of voice

A brand can use a ‘tone of voice’ to reassure, invite, clarify and communicate what they want their products to be. Bonne Maman has a specific tone that reminds me of artisanal, good, old jams, in the typical French way and possibly in a chalet over the Alps. See? I’ve gathered all that just from the branding.

I'm thinking of Provence already.

I’m thinking of Provence already.

7. graphic excellence

The symbolic value of a design should never be underestimated, as it can “explain a whole by showing a part”. Logos can be clever, can have a hidden message, can show how smart the company is just by graphically summing it up.

8. reputation

A brand can gain added value based on the reputation of its company or product, that can then be extended to other services. Sometimes, just like in the case of YSL or Chanel, cross-branding is adopted (lending a famous brand to a line of products that have little of nothing to with the initial field of operation).

9. discretion

Sometimes, just a small detail can make you think of a brand. Just picture the famous Nike swoosh or the drop shape of vodafone.

Power to you.

Power to you.

10. repetition

Recognition by repetition is a traditional rationale that helps remembering. Repetita iuvant and memory works by repetition, too.

Maybe a bit of Noughties's trend, but repetitions do help.

Maybe a bit of Noughties’s trend, but repetitions do help.

How do you make your brand identifiable then?

Sometimes it’s harder to do than say, but in general from a freelancer’s perspective you can be more identifiable by:

  • researching your market (for competitors and clients alike)
  • finding your “different”
  • crafting your tone: usually focus on opposites and pairs. Translation is considered by many, alas, a commodity. Turn upside down this conception
  • investing in good design: I will never get tired of this. More on the topic is found in my post on hiring a pro
  • highlighting the good elements of your business: this will lead to creating a good reputation and a better image
  • focusing on your USP: always be true and sell only what you can do. And make sure it shows in your brand.
Brand strength model

Brand strength model

Brand-Identity-Logo: not the same things

Brand-Identity-Logo: not the same things

Read more:

Copy and uniqueness http://www.slideshare.net/joerivandenbergh/good-artists-copy-great-artists-steal-a-brands-uniqueness-vs-relevant-difference

USP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unique_selling_proposition

Brand uniqueness http://infinityconcepts.net/2009/10/brand-uniqueness/

Promote your brand uniqueness http://www.carew.com/sales-training-blog/2013/02/how-to-promote-brand-uniqueness/

Agencies and brand uniqueness http://www.synergist.co.uk/blog/2014/may/the-paradox-of-agencies-and-brand-uniqueness

GoT’s redesigned coats of arms http://io9.com/5939921/the-game-of-thrones-house-sigils-redesigned-as-corporate-logos

Business cards… that mean business

Today’s #rainybrandingtuesday is going to let the images do the talking.

It may sound a bit of a cliché but contrary to popular belief, trust me: especially when you attend a networking event outside of your comfort zone (ie. clients’ not industry-related) most people would expect you to give them a business card.

Business cards can be:

  • icebreakers
  • something to look at if embarassed
  • a way – for people like me – to remember names
  • a way to realise cruelty-free whether that person is someone potentially interested in your services

but above all, a way to showcase your committment to business.

I thought mine ended outside London Zone 1.

I thought mine ended outside London Zone 1.


I won’t go into the why a good design and brand is paramount but you can refer to some of my past posts on the importance of hiring a pro or on the relevance  of creativity in branding.

What I wanted to show you is some of the good cards I’ve been collecting over the years. This is instalment oneand more will come!

(note: unless stated, designs are NOT by Rainy London Branding / Fabio Benedetti)

To read more on business cards, print some or simply find some inspiration:

  1. Great solutions with affordable prices http://uk.moo.com/products/business-cards.html
  2. UK-based, small printers with amazing quality http://www.ripedigital.co.uk
  3. Large company with outstanding products and quality http://www.printing.com/uk/home?
  4. Some inspo http://webdesignledger.com/inspiration/51-unique-business-cards-that-will-make-your-mind-explode
  5. Crazy solutions! http://mashable.com/2013/05/16/crazy-business-cards/
  6. Creativity pays off http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/05/100-really-creative-business-cards/

A collection of translation examples by @traducirco http://www.traducirco.com/2013/02/tarjetas-de-visita-de-traductores.html

Crossing Words, Paula Ribeiro

Crossing Words, Paula Ribeiro

Wantwords, Marta Stelmaszak

Wantwords, Marta Stelmaszak

Gretel Translations, Romy Gessner

Gretel Translations, Romy Gessner

Fabio's previous logo

Fabio’s previous logo

Mónica Perez Ruiz, T x Translator

Mónica Perez Ruiz, T x Translator

Oui Translations, Leticia Robles Soneira

Oui Translations, Leticia Robles Soneira

Back view of some translation-related cards

Back view of some translation-related cards

Non-translation cards, with amazing illustration and designs

Non-translation cards, with amazing illustration and designs

A selection of translation-related cards

A selection of translation-related cards

My belowed The Freelance Box (by Fabio Benedetti)

Some clever front sides of non-translation cards

Some clever front sides of non-translation cards

Branding & co: foreign sells

Welcome to a new post of the #rainybrandingtuesday series! I came across this article on Women’s Health of this June:

As many typos as you can think of: a graphic example

As many typos as you can think of: a graphic example

While I don’t dislike the idea of snippets of information or travel tips in another language (even though this magazine is about fitness, not travel), after a thorough read I realised that the languages are all wrong (the Italian being the very worst). So I wondered:

how come that a widely known, top magazine like this (it’s quite possibly the biggest name in general public, fitness-related magazines) is NOT paying attention to the fact that all these languages are seriously crippled by mistakes?

I can already picture an editor coming up with this idea and instead of corroborating the accuracy of the languages with a pro, deciding to trust the office intern who spent 6 months in Italy or Spain as an au pair to check it.

I’m sure in this case I’m quite possibly one of the few who feels bad about it – and ashamed there are so many typos in my language (let alone the sex pest stereotyped reference…) but on a larger scale, companies should really pay attention to the need for cultural sensitivity in global marketing. 

Another interesting issue is the one raised by Sarah Elzas in her short piece:

Sony, Prada and BMW were among the companies that received a slap on the wrist this week [2013] in France for using foreign words in their advertisement campaigns. Under French law, all foreign words must be accompanied by a translation. The French Authority on Professional Advertisement – the ARPP – charged with overseeing ad campaigns in France, looked at nearly 4,000 campaigns, and found 43 were not following the law. RFI spoke to Stéphane Martin, the head of the Agency, about why it is important for France to protect its language in this way.

Nevertheless, the use of foreign languages in ads is aimed to making it more appealing, as underlined in this detailed article in Wikipedia – and goes under the name of “Foreign branding”:

Foreign branding is an advertising and marketing term describing the implied cachet or superiority of products and services with foreign or foreign-sounding names. In non-English-speaking countries, many brands use English- or American-styled names. In English and other non-English-speaking countries, many cosmetics and fashion brands use French- or Italian-styled names. Also, Japanese, Scandinavian, and of other origin-sounding names are used in both English- and non-English-speaking countries to achieve specific effects.

This can be in the name: the Pret A Manger sandwich retail chain is British while Dolmio that despite an Italian-sounding name, is made by Masterfoods in Australia; or in the graphics: The London-based sushi restaurant YO! Sushi uses a typeface that makes the Y and O look like the katakana letters and (romaji: ri and ku).

In the paper Would you like umlauts with that? by Bruce Campbell  we can read more on this:

Advertisers use foreign branding to associate their products with laudable qualities linked with foreign countries. Many skin-care products use French names and phrases because consumers equate France with exceptional knowledge of beauty (and clear skin, no doubt). Research shows, for example, that the French product Clarins gets substantially more positive consumer response when it is accompanied by French phrases and sprinkled with random accent marks than when presented sans its French heritage.

So the bottom line is: the use of foreign words making products more appealing to us buyers. A few examples:

Is the Czech correct...?

Ads in the tube. But…is the Czech correct…?

How does this apply to us freelancers?

This is especially important:

  • when we choose a name for our brand or company or product
  • when a client is asking us to run checks on existing concepts or brand names
  • when we translate, because sometimes knowing what’s behind a brand (ie. knowing where it’s really from) can help with the understanding of the concepts in the text e.g. if a French-sounding company makes references to the tradition of France, it’s essential to make sure we do not lose that sense of heritage in our delivered version
  • when we work on transcreation: sometimes foreign branding (and copy that uses foreign words or references) makes it hard for us to actually localise the text making sure we don’t incur in a loss of content /meaning – just as in jokes, that sometimes can seem untranslatable

Can you think of any other cases?


Be a pro, hire a pro

Today’s #RainyBrandingTuesday wants to follow up on the way you work with professionals.

Since the launch of Rainy London Branding, I’ve had the pleasure to work back to back with many professionals who needed to find their voice and with designers and programmers who are taking care of the technical side of it all. In all this, we always need to consider that we are good with words, especially as interpreters and translators. Therefore, just as we would for a translation or a conference with our clients – but even with a plumber if we need him to fix our bathroom leakage – we need to remember the importance of a good dialogue. Otherwise, our interactions make just for another anecdote from Clients from hell:



Eventually though… it only dawns on us that we are all the same, as clients. So if we want to get treated in the right way, we need to give what we want to get.

Design especially is a matter of taste and personal moods – and in many, many cases, the design client does NOT know what s/he wants until… S/HE SEES IT.

And sometimes clients do not know and are not supposed to know the technicalities nor how we work so… make sure you talk in a way they can relate to.

But as branding is such a crucial part for businesses of all sizes, sooner or later we would need to liaise with the designer aspect.

Designers are nice – I live with one, I can vouch! – My tips to work with a designer (or any other professional for that matter!) are basically… all around a brief.

Fabio – my designer – has worked on these logos and some sites:

Astra Translations, Dania Training, WantWords, Masterminf Translations, Verbatim Translations, Momo Translations, English Rose Berlin and Trema Translations were designed by fabiobenedetti.co.uk. Isabel Espuelas is great too but is not our design.

Astra Translations, Dania Training, WantWords, Masterminf Translations, Verbatim Translations, Momo Translations, English Rose Berlin and Trema Translations were designed by fabiobenedetti.co.uk. Isabel Espuelas is great too but is not our design.

and we always use this brief chart to make sure that the inception of a logo is driven by a good reasoning:


This is a way to make sure your designer is aware of your idea. You can also create a moodboard – with pictures or images or scans of your writing… just inspiration. Pinterest is a very good way, too!

Then remember:

  • find a pro: as I always say, you don’t want clients to go for non-trained or unprofessional translators, the same is true for any other fields. Walk the walk
  • browse their portfolio (or ask for one): maybe you find something that inspires you
  • agree fees: on delivery, in advance… normally, it’s a part in advance and then if your project is big, there will be installments
  • agree payment terms ASAP, esp. if the supplier is abroad, and get a signed PO / terms or a binding e-mail clearly stating dates and conditions
  • be ready to invest: not millions! But make sure your design shows professionalism. Most of the times my services are chosen because my website is professional and looks “the part”
  • talk to them in the clearest way: make examples, sketch… inspirational boards are great. Give the designer as many examples as possible
  • don’t rush it. Logos can take weeks. Be wary of those who offer you a logo in 24 hrs if you really want a thorough job
  • brainstorm and ask when in doubt. Better asking than feeling sorry later
  • if you don’t like the design, just explain why. As I mentioned before sometimes you don’t visualize anything until you see it

You should then think of the different media. Bear in mind that you may need Twitter + Facebook covers but also business cards and brochure design, banners etc.

This is what I’ve done for Rainy London Translations:

Facebook cover

Rainy London Translations: Facebook cover

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 15.53.53

Rainy London Translations: Twitter cover

What is the point here? While the design is the same, the format and the sizing may change.

In that case, make sure you ask:

  • whether these changes are included in the quote/fee
  • if the artworks are provided for these media
  • print is different from web so formats for the printers are different. Just ask!
  • get the right format (be it .indd or .eps etc)
  • Ask for jpeg or PDF version too, they may come in handy
  • don’t give anything for granted and ask to double check.

For further info or doubts, you can always drop me a line!

And now some fun: Design hell and Design changes 

See you next week!


Names, names, names: it’s all about vision

Welcome to a new #RainyBrandingTuesday!

Choosing a name for a brand or a business is always the trickiest of parts. If you’ve been to one of my #rainybranding talks (the next is on Saturday in Porto), you have an idea of the reasons behind mine (and you’re aware of the bad and the ugly before getting eventually to a good one). Also, I’ve already talked about this in a past post but it’s such a heated topic that I thought it would be worth revisiting.

Rainy London Business Cards (and one fave mug)

Rainy London Business Cards (and my Pantone mug)

First of all, should you use a brand (as in creating / inventing a name) or should you trade under your own name?

I am a supporter of standing out and diversify (read more on this topic in a very nice book I have contributed to) and I chose to not trade under my name and surname simply because my audience may find it hard to pronounce and I wanted to make sure my business was able – in the future too – to encompass a wider range of possibilities.

Yet, there’s no right or wrong!

As read in FreelanceFolder:

Using your personal name as your business name is the easiest and fastest way to come up with a brand.

If you’re just starting out or are not sure if you’re into freelancing for the long haul, this may be the best option for you. However, if you have a common name, it’s a good idea to register your personal name anyway, to avoid duplication.

On the other hand, using your personal name as your business name does have its disadvantages too.

1. your business may be perceived as less professional, less serious and even less credible than if you had a “real” business name.

2. it may be much harder to sell your business later. Investors in general would be unwilling to purchase an existing business that’s tied too much to a specific person–unless you become rich and famous, of course.It’s also impossible to communicate your Unique Selling Proposition by using your personal name, instead of a punchy but meaningful business name.

Still, coming up with a name is the hardest part, as mentioned before.

It needs to be memorable, evocative, and meaningful (and possibly: easy to remember!)

Regarding the why of a name or a brand, Marie Forleo is open to possibilities. As she cunningly mentions in her video, it’s all down to

Your Industry

Your Vision

Your long-term plan

The thre points to choose a name

The thre points to choose a name

As she explains very clearly, there is not a successful way and path-to-failure one. You can be successful by sticking to your name if you know it’s going to be YOU and you as an asset for a while; still there are plenty of examples around to prove that empires can be sold and still be doing fantastically well even if the founder is no longer there,  e.g. Jo Malone or Donna Karan or Harrods. 

Freesia and Pear: one of my alltime fave scents.

Freesia and Pear: one of my alltime fave scents.

Product, Service and Business

Product, Service and Business

It has that charming look though...

It has that charming look though…

This extremely interesting and straightforward article is really helpful – and is so good I felt the urge to share it almost in its entirety.

What parts should one be considering when choosing a name?

Appearance – Simply how the name looks. It will always be seen in context, but it will be seen, so looks are crucial too.

Distinctive – How differentiated is a given name from its competition. Being distinctive is only one element that goes into making a name memorable, but it is a required element, since if a name is not distinct from a sea of similar names it will not be memorable. It’s important, when judging distinctiveness, to always consider the name in the context of the product it will serve, and among the competition it will spar with for the consumer’s attention.

Depth – Layer upon layer of meaning and association. Names with great depth never reveal all they have to offer all at once, but keep surprising you with new ideas.

Energy – How vital and full of life is the name? Does it have buzz? Can it carry an ad campaign on its shoulders? Is it a force to be reckoned with? These are all aspects of a name’s energy level.

Humanity – A measure of a name’s warmth, its “humanness,” as opposed to names that are cold, clinical, unemotional. Another – though not foolproof – way to think about this category is to imagine each of the names as a nickname for one of your children.

Positioning – How relevant the name is to the positioning of the product or company being named, the service offered, or to the industry served. Further, how many relevant messages does the name map to?

Sound – Again, while always existing in a context of some sort or another, the name WILL be heard, in radio or television commercials, being presented at a trade show, or simply being discussed in a cocktail party conversation. Sound is twofold – not only how a name sounds, but how easily it is spoken by those who matter most: the potential customer. Word of mouth is a big part of the marketing of a company, product or service with a great name, but if people aren’t comfortable saying the name, the word won’t get out.

“33” – The force of brand magic, and the word-of-mouth buzz that a name is likely to generate. Refers to the mysterious “33” printed on the back of Rolling Rock beer bottles for decades that everybody talks about because nobody is really sure what it means. “33” is that certain something that makes people lean forward and want to learn more about a brand, and to want to share the brand with others. The “33” angle is different for each name.

Trademark – As in the ugly, meat hook reality of trademark availability. Scoring is easy here, as there are only three options, and nothing is subjective: 10 = likely available for trademark; 5 = may be available for trademark; and 0 = not likely available for trademark. All of the names on this list have been prescreened by a trademarked attorney and have been deemed “likely” for trademark registration.

When my dad suggested 'Gladiator' Translations I'm sure he didn't refer to sandals (shame)

When my dad suggested ‘Gladiator’ Translations I’m sure he wasn’t thinking of sandals (shame)

Now over to you:

  • Are you struggling to find the name your website or company?

  • What’s holding you back?

  • Are you in need in inspiration? Or simply cannot decide?

  • image

You can always hire me <wink wink>

Further readings:

  1. http://www.igorinternational.com/process/filters-naming-powerful-names.php
  2. http://www.thenameinspector.com/10-name-types/
  3. http://freelancefolder.com/branding-your-freelancing-business-personal-name-vs-business-name/


Opportunities: don’t let them slip away (hint: use branding)

It’s #RainyBrandingTuesday!

Branding is such a big topic that every week I’m spoilt for choice. This time, though, I’d like to talk about opportunities and how branding yourself has to do with them.
In the latest issue of Inc Magazine (April 14) I was intrigued by an article on The 8 best industries for starting a business. And surprise surprise… one is translation.
The bottom line, as the piece says is that by 2018, the industry will grow by $39 billion (Forbes in Spanish also mentioned interpreters and translators as one of the businesses of the future – yay!)

With 6,700 languages on the planet and an increasing demand for tourism and medical services in other languages… well it’s all about opportunities.

6,700 languages. And I can only speak 4!

6,700 languages. And I can only speak 4!

So, how does this link to branding?

As we are master of words (both written and spoken) we should focus on the opportunities they give us to express ourselves better. And this can be done by creating a tangible experience for your potential customers.
As Kelly O’Keefe, professor of brand management and innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter advertising school, says:

[…] in the ’90s advertising was a tool to build brands, working with connecting them to short messages or images. But it stopped working. If Consumers feel like they’ve been lied to, they discount the message and look for deeper signals.

A brand voice is important but nowadays it’s also about the brand behavior and the touch – the engagement to the client base. When brands engage the public – think of the pop-up shop that Chanel envisaged in 2012 for the boutique in the Covent Garden Piazza that ended up being so successful that was turned into a permanent shop (to my delight!) – the client can walk away with an experience, that can then be shared in person by telling others or via social media, email, phone. This makes them our new and most powerful advertising tool!

Flowers and pretty things: always do the trick

Flowers and pretty things: always do the trick

A special vending machine. With a person inside!

A special vending machine. With a person inside!

How can you leverage on this opportunity as a freelancer?

Of course we need to think on a much smaller scale and focusing on the type of target clients we have but they resources are many:

  • tell a story ––> in every email you send to prospect clients, try to engage them in a success story related to their need and what you could help them achieve. Examples are great and people can relate on a personal level.
  • offer something that not every one is getting —>  it does not have to be a discount but a special feature your client can use like access to a link or an article you’ve written, something you’ve published – maybe a booklet you’ve translated and that can be relevant to their business – or a book you’re writing so they will feel unique and cared for. This can be done via QR codes on your email for instance that lead your reader to exclusive content or, why not, even discounts if that rocks your boat (or theirs).
  • the ‘usual’ cards + extras (I have cards and cups for example) —> esp. with existing clients that already appreciate your work. Make yourself remembered and visible in their eyes. Little details and some kindness do work well when they are paired with the good quality of your work.
  • use social media to make your audience part of your business —> It’s true that as I said in many other occasions, not every customer will buy from you based on your use or profile on social media. Yet, nowadays being “special” is unexpected and can be very well perceived. I was recently at an event on maritime shipping and all it was discussed was the lack of visibility of this industry. I’m sure that cargo ships are not hired solely relying on a company’s posts on a FB page (!) but these are all elements that show you EXIST and care for what goes on in your industry. So create an hashtag or an initiative (like the lovely LYT, http://loveyourtranslator.com) to raise awareness on the fact that good translators are out there and can boost clients’ business.
  • make videos —> this classifies under the social media category perhaps but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for some time now and I believe very much in the power of videos. Maybe you won’t go viral strictly speaking at least but videos can be an engaging way to communicate with your clients. People buy from people and especially for interpreters or speakers or even designers, video clips and screencasts showing how you do your job are a great way to market yourself.

As you may have noticed, this week I’m all about opportunities because branding after all is a mirror of what you are and of the opportunities you are faced with every day.

Don’t let them slip away!



Keep things shipshape: in life and in branding

Welcome to a new #RainyBrandingTuesday appointment. Today it’s all about shapes.

I recently gave one of my talks on branding  – where I explain about the case study for Rainy London Translations – and I mentioned, as usual, color and the importance of the right palette.

There’s a very specific psychology behind the selection of colours – I wrote a blog post on this a few weeks ago – but way too often we forget that SHAPE is also fundamental.

Not THESE shapes.

Not THESE shapes.

When a client asks me about their logo design, the first thing that my designer wants to know from him or her is the style s/he likes and dislikes. This includes the perception of attributes that your style is made of and that kind of brief (I like feminine or masculine, aggressive or muted, round or small, circular or schematic…) is achieved by filling this:


This chart is essential to get the brief right

This chart is essential to get the brief right – by FabioBenedetti.co.uk

This helps your designer understand what you want and saves you a lot of misunderstanding and delays. As Amy Wong writes on this Blog Studio’s post: 

The principle shapes used in design are classified into two categories: 1) circles, ovals and ellipses, and 2) squares and triangles. Other important aesthetic factors include vertical versus horizontal lines and angular versus rounded shapes.

  1. Circles, ovals and ellipses are typically associated with a positive emotional message. These round shapes signify unity, and by extension, community, friendship, love, and relationships. Rings in specific imply marriage and partnership, suggesting stability and endurance. Curves of any sort tend to be viewed as feminine in nature.

  2. Squares and triangles, with their straight edges, are associated with strength, professionalism, and efficiency because of their precise nature. These rigid shapes imply practical stability and balance. Depending on what colours they are combined with, they may appear cold and uninviting. To counter that, off-balance positions or vibrant colours can yield a more interesting effect. Moreover, triangles have been said to be associated with power, science, religion, and law. These tend to be seen as masculine attributes, and are featured predominantly in companies with masculine-biased products (think cars and machinery).

  3. Vertical lines are subconsciously associated with masculinity, strength and aggression, while horizontal lines point to community, tranquility, and calm.

Ultimately, what matters is that your logo is your brand. Your brand is your business. So the aim is: make sure your first interaction with your customers is positive as you can’t give a second  first impression, really.

As mentioned in this article by Full Circle Design the 2012 London Olympics logo is a fiasco in terms of shape.

In an effort to capture multiple emotions and images at the same time with the shape, Wolff Olins created a muddled design, which attempts to combine the year of the event and the energy and eclectic nature of London, creates an indecipherable mess. If it weren’t attached to such a major, newsworthy event, nobody would have been able to tell you what was being said here.

London 2012 logo. Or a huge, pink Lisa Simpson.

London 2012 logo. Or a huge, pink Lisa Simpson.

(Personally: I keep seeing a kneeling-down Lisa Simpson with Olympic rings in her hair on the right-hand side. Just sayin’).

Shapes are important because just as colours, they ‘shape’ (no pun intended) the thought and what sticks to your retina.

As in the principle of Gestalt:

“People will perceive and interpret ambiguous or complex images as the simplest form(s) possible.”

Smashing Magazine on the perception of design mentions that:

‘We prefer things that are simple, clear and ordered. Instinctually these things are safer. They take less time for us to process and present less dangerous surprises.’



Therefore a logo like the one that FedEx has been using since 1994 is simply brilliant and design-wise, just perfect.

Can you spot the arrow?

Can you spot the arrow?


The triangle that serves as the arrow’s head furthers the emotional reaction that the color combination creates. The second you see this logo on the side of a truck or on an envelope, you remember it and understand what FedEx does even without additional text.

The same is achieved over time by timeless branding like Chanel or Coca Cola.

All in the shape.

All in the shape.

But also Shell, NBC, and Nike

Branding is iconic. And sticks to your retina.

Branding is iconic. And sticks to your retina.

are great examples of how appropriate the style is for their type of business.

As this post on CreativeBloq underlines,

Particular logo shapes send out particular messages:

Circles, ovals and ellipses tend to project a positive emotional message. Using a circle in a logo can suggest community, friendship, love, relationships and unity. Rings have an implication of marriage and partnership, suggesting stability and endurance.  Curves on any sort tend to be viewed as feminine in nature.
Straight edged logo shapes such as squares and triangles suggest stability in more practical terms and can also be used to imply balance. Straight lines and precise logo shapes also impart strength, professionalism and efficiency. However, and particularly if they are combined with colours like blue and grey, they may also appear cold and uninviting. Subverting them with off-kilter positioning or more dynamic colours can counter this problem and conjure up something more interesting.
It has also been suggested that triangles have a good association with power, science, religion and law. These tend to be viewed as masculine attributes, so it’s no coincidence that triangles feature more prominently in the logos of companies whose products have a masculine bias.
Our subconscious minds associate vertical lines with masculinity, strength and aggression, while horizontal lines suggest community, tranquillity and calm.
The implications of shape also extend to the typeface chosen. Jagged, angular typefaces may appear as aggressive or dynamic; on the other hand, soft, rounded letters give a youthful appeal. Curved typefaces and cursive scripts tend to appeal more to women, while strong, bold lettering has a more masculine edge.

In this sense, try to make sure the shape of your logo:

  • respects the purpose you initially wanted (be simple, feminine, strong,…)
  • reflects the business you’re in (appropriate. e.g. Toy R Us is playful and childish enough)
  • works well with the palette you’ve chosen
  • is versatile yet an evergreen
  • works well in negative (black & white) and does not evoke further shapes
  • I only see one thing. Actually, two.

    I only see one thing. Actually, two.

  • has a positive message and cannot be misunderstood
Not hungry anymore, really.

Not hungry anymore, really.

So, what shapes do you think work best for your purpose? Is your brand shipshape?

Further readings:



Tell your tale: branding and storytelling

Just a few days ago I was documenting myself for an upcoming video I’m recording with The Freelance Box – and I realized that branding goes hand in hand with online personas.

What is a persona? It’s who we are in real life, or what we would like our brand to be in real life transposed onto screen, onto web. In short: it’s our online avatar. This should be true to what we are in real life because:

  • people / customers / fan base / readers would expect you to be so;
  • it conveys more reliability and trust (and that’s a key to branding);
  • it’s more fun to be yourself!
Think in stories. Tell yours.

Think in stories. Tell yours.

This blog by Natalie Lussier has an interesting video on how important a 3D persona is:

It means being comfortable sharing the uncomfortable, being a little bit vulnerable and allowing yourself to let that show.It’s not just about being unpolished though, it’s also about the fact that you are allowing yourself to be seen. Truly seen.How can you be more three-dimensional in your marketing in your writing and your video content? Tell stories. Share your inner thoughts. Be your goofy self. Develop and cultivate your own style.

That’s why storytelling is so crucial.

Think of this amazing (and very vintage!) Barilla pasta ad, or Chanel with the first-ever male protagonist for number 5 or my beloved Nespresso.

Apple as usual is avant-garde in what they do and they proved it with this 1984-esque ad. Google did something very nice that always brings me to tears, I admit.

So why is storytelling so important for us as freelancers?

Branding Strategy Insider puts it very clear in this list:

These are priorities that play on the minds of consumers:

  • Is the brand desirable both aesthetically and functionally?
  • Does the brand’s image and reputation fit with who they are? Is this a brand they will be proud to be seen with?
  • Is the brand well made?
  • Is it well supported across a range of channels? Can it be easily accessed?
  • Does it respond?
  • Is it made by a company that behaves ethically?
  • Is the brand interesting? Is it in the news? Do people talk about it?
  • Who’s the brand associated with? Who speaks for the brand?
  • Are they someone the buyer admires?
  • Is the brand consistent? Do consumers get what they think they’re getting?
  • Is it easy to find? Is the choice set manageable and not overly-complicated?
  • Is it priced right?

For this reason, we need to make sure they choose us over someone else. And we tell OUR story, that’s half way to the goal. All these elements are summarized by Jon Ham, chief creative and innovation officer at Momentum Worldwide, for ADWeek:

The most powerful way to persuade someone of your idea is by uniting the idea with an emotion. But we need to recognize that it demands insight and skill to present an idea that packs enough emotional power.

We can sell “things, or “products” or we can sell so much more—something with meaning, with insight, with a goal.

Find a spin and tell your story is ultimately the bottom line.

So, how do you spin stories for your product or service?

Forbes gives a nice hint for this – and I adapted to translation:

If your company offers the best deal, why is that?

My adaptation: If you’re a translator, maybe you should talk about your love of words and languages when you were in school. Everybody started somewhere and somehow and everyone has a story of their own.

Today’s takeaways:

How can you do storytelling?

  • be yourself
  • be conversational
  • be human
  • use videos, graphics, contests, quotes, images, real life examples
  • find inspiration: Pinterest
  • find something you’re passionate about and tell the truth
  • don’t be afraid to show you’re vulnerable
  • look at big examples: they all started from a small story.

Here’s a nice visual summary from QuickSprout:

Dos and Donts

Dos and Donts

Some more inspiration?