Of branding, translation, stereotypes and advertising: yes, they all relate.

I was recently talking with a friend about the fact that brands often come across as ‘labels’ for the people we are or want to be.

That implies that, for instance, someone drinking Starbucks coffee ‘has’ (or wants to give) a different image of him/herself. Like a statement, like the famous status symbol. Of course, maybe this person just really likes Starbucks coffee (or any coffee, for that matters) and just happened to be around that shop at the moment of craving – it happened to me!

Still, there’s a sort of aura attached to brands – clothing, jewelry, cars, tech gadgets – that wrongly make the others identify you as a certain person. Another example is the neighborourhood you live in or the party you’re voting… I could go on for ages. But why do I want to touch on this on my #RainyBrandingTuesday?

Just because the same is true with stereotypes, in branding.

I have come across this ad on the Ocado magazine the other day (yes, I shop at Ocado, how stereotyped for a Londoner, uh!) and it made me think.

Italians tend to have pasta every day, I can guarantee...

Some Italians tend to have pasta every day, it’s not a myth after all.

What did I find?

  • Classic Italian flag colours
  • Term Italian very abundantly used (I counted it x times)
  • Picture of reassuring owner to underline tradition
  • Keywords: italian words, Mediterranean, real, Southern Italy, authentic, flavour
  • Easy-to-pronounce brand (good por SEO purposes too)
  • Massive picture of food in the background
  • Promise of real Italian ingredients

Don’t get me wrong! I’ve not tried this brand and maybe, despite the bad advertising or poor graphics, the product is outstanding. All in all, it just made me think about how sometimes products can come in disguise – you remember the scandals of Parma ham in Canada or the German blue mozzarella and the examples are plenty more. Back to the stereotypes though: Dolmio is another brand that caught my attention. The brand’s ads feature some typical Italian stereotypes and even add a thick accent to it. Far from being funny in my opinion, I’ve read headlines and comments on these commercial where many consumers identified them as racist or highly stereotyped.

But…all in all: is that bad or good for a brand?

Stereotypes are everywhere. I’m sure that you can tell stories of how people around you thought that because you’re a freelance translator, you don’t have a real job, you must be spending your time reading books in a library, etc. Been there? 🙂

As read in the LRW Blog

When people hear the word “stereotype” they think of something bad, and this makes sense given that this word is usually used in the context of social groups.  While the content of social stereotypes can be unfortunate, the underlying cognitive processes are important.  Our brains are categorizing and stereotyping machines, using mental shortcuts to organize, predict, and react.  This process is what told our ancestors that each saber-tooth tiger is as dangerous as the others or that specific berry is as poisonous as others like it.  These categories and their characteristics are represented in our heads.  Stereotypes can also shape reality – serving as a prism on what we see and experience.

but we should be able to leverage on them:

Brands are also stereotypes in the same way.  Brands are representations in our heads of products or companies that influence what we see or experience and how we evaluate individual offerings. It means we can leverage 70+ years of stereotyping research by social scientists for brands.

The Marketing Spot has a really good point: find strategies to make sure you stay away from stereotypes but still make the most of them, positively. The examples on the blog is a used car dealer business but we can apply it to our industry too.

  • Branding mobility: downsize the impact of the stereotype in your industry. e.g. you offer translations – just try to communicate it differently and make sure that your identity is perceived as you want. ‘I offer flawless content management and translation services that can help your boost your business in this and that country’
  • Branding creativity: of course, positioning yourself above the rest is key. Be creative, make sure you stand out from the crowd because you can offer something the others don’t. You are an interpreter on the marketing industry? It won’t hurt if you can prove why you’re the best at it, maybe being a member of an association in this industry, for example.  Or doing things other translators don’t do or are not expected to be doing such as visiting clients on site! (People like chocolate, I’m telling you!)
  • Branding competition: change the status quo. Translations are sadly seen as a commodity these days so make sure you can revert this and change the game. e.g. ‘Translation is very much underrated but think of how your communication could improve with my services’ – then prove it to them!

The blog ends with this great sentence:

After all, branding is about being different. And that’s an absence of stereotype.

So, do you think there are labels out there that can be detrimental to our business?

Here my food for thought:

  • Industries and branding are affected by stereotypes.
  • Try to identify yours and see whether they’re positive or negative for your business.
  • Is your target language seen in a specific way? What are the good / bad elements?
  • Are YOU affected by a specific stereotype? Write it down and try to defy it.

Further reading:

  1. On Burberry and chavs http://www.economist.com/node/17963363
  2. Personal Branding Blog http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/stereotypes-can-derail-your-personal-branding/
  3. Types of stereotyping http://smallbusiness.chron.com/types-stereotyping-advertising-11937.html
  4. You are not your country http://www.nationalstereotype.com/you-are-not-your-country-top-10-national-stereotypes/
  5. Interesting reads on marketing stereotypes http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/pal/bm/2004/00000011/00000006/art00007
  6. The Chinese and luxury brands http://www.businessoffashion.com/2014/02/5-stereotypes-chinese-luxury-consumers-debunked.html
  7. And to conclude, an extract from Miguel Llorens’s blog (RIP): http://traductor-financiero.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/think-differentdifferently-is.html


Iconography and branding: the power of concepts

This #RainyBrandingTuesday is about iconography.

iconography,  the science of identification, description, classification, and interpretation of symbols, themes, and subject matter in the visual arts. The term can also refer to the artist’s use of this imagery in a particular work.


This is the definition from Encyclopedia Britannica that in the final part of the paragraph mentions religion and symbolismSymbols have been around for ages and – like it or not – we are surrounded by them. As in road signs

Hence the importance of symbols.

Hence the importance of symbols.

or in the icons of our computer software or mobile, 

Apps are all identified by an icon

Apps are all identified by an icon

we all know that there’s a common ‘agreement’ behind the concept of a symbol. Each and every one of the has – or should have – a universally recognized meaning. One of the best examples is the Ancient Egypt, perhaps?

An ancient, typical pet peeve

An ancient, typical pet peeve

Grammar police started a while ago...

Grammar police started a while ago…

Iconography is therefore a set of concepts we all share. As I read on FI’s blog (one the most relevant design company in the world):

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 08.58.07

*UX = user experience, ie. all stuff we unconsciously use on our devices day in, day out.

FI’s study best exemplifies how intuitive today’s design should be for users to immediately get the message.

An icon should be:

  • universal
  • minimal
  • clear
  • unique (as in ‘not being mistaken’ for something else)
  • evocative

Added-value.com mentions branding and iconography as essential for modern customers.

We believe that people buy a brand when they anticipate it will make them feel better. More specifically people buy a brand when its ‘iconography’ projects an experience that will make them feel better. Brands which renew their iconography whilst protecting its integrity build strong brand connection and equity. These brands become iconic.

As I often mention in my branding talks (by the way, the next ones are in Budapest and then in Porto) to be iconic your brand and name should project a perceived valued that customer identify with. Therefore, choosing the right set of icons goes hand in hand with branding as what we are trying to convey is a MESSAGE. As translators, we are – should be! – the best candidates to use words and concepts as we wish, so it’s worth investing your time in defining what is the (conceptual) iconography of your brand and business.

If I were to create some for Rainy London, you know what they would be. I already went for the London Eye and it does not get more iconic that that!

I’m not saying you should get all design-y and funky with icons scattered on your website 🙂

Think about the iconography of a country, like the UK. Or Italy! I can picture art, sunshine, the Ancient Rome…pizza! These all are elements of our iconography and are conceptually relevant to our idea of Bel Paese. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 09.49.24

An iconic summing-up

Italy and luxury items in icons

Italy and luxury items in icons

FutureBrand posted:

The iconography of a nation is representative of culture, patriotism, history and pride. The symbolism of a flag or coat of arms is almost sacrosanct and needs to be treated with respect and care, and it needs to be accurate to previous and historic convention.

This article on iconography and branding explains very well, a maple leaf is not any maple leaf for Canada. It’s all about the concept and the icons.

But how do we use icons and iconography in our business?

Underconsideration.com says:

iconography shares a lot of the reductive qualities necessary to tell the biggest story with the smallest amount of visual elements. 

That’s what I’ve done with my website (even though it’s been redesigned as we blog so it will change soon):

Upload, ask, contact me. Simples!

Upload, ask, contact me. Simples!

Just like on your phone or on marketing material, icons should ultimately help customers or users identify what words would express in much more space. Other sites have done this, in all sectors. Here’s IKEA:

Mixing words and icons

Mixing words and icons

And here’s Pocket:

Pictures to represent pictures

Pictures to represent pictures

Marta Stelmaszaks new website – done by our beloved designer Fabio Benedetti🙂

Clear and concise.

Clear and concise.

Or the classic set of social media icons:

Can you tell which is which? 'course you can!

Can you tell which is which? ‘course you can!

And why not mention Instant Messaging apps like Whatsapp? Emojis are all the rage:

My fave is the flamenco lady.

My fave is the flamenco lady.

So to recap, this is how we can use icons for:

  • send a clear message
  • make UX easier on your site or brochure or CV
  • give more harmony and balance to the overall design
  • get unstuck from the ‘too-much-text’ rut
  • inspire readers to click on the icons/services behind them (call to action)
  • isolate keywords and concepts
  • create a better understand of who you are, what you offer, why choose you
  • show how good you are at interpreting a country’s or an industry’s identity (why not?)

Any other ideas? Share under the hashtag #RainyBrandingTuesday

Some links for you:

  1. Fab’s portfolio, icons http://www.fabiobenedetti.co.uk/digital-design/#/various-icons/
  2. Examples http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples/examples-of-iconography.html
  3. Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/ryanshelton/iconography/
  4. My Good Buzz http://mygoodbuzz.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/evolution-of-brand-iconography.html
  5. BBC: video http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/andy-warhol-iconography-and-branding/9990.html
  6. FI http://www.f-i.com/fi/icons/
  7. Fun icons and emoji: http://www.i2symbol.com/symbols

 See you next week!

Creative advertising: a mix of traditional & innovative as the key to outstanding branding

Today’s #RainyBrandingTuesday’s appointment is talking about branding in a different way. As they say in Spanish: ‘renovarse o morir‘. Just as I always repeat that branding permeates everything we do and everywhere we go, the same is for advertising. And in this sense, it’s innovative, creative advertising – the renovarse bit above – that combines with branding and makes you stand out.

Stand out!

Stand out!

Branding is finalised to ultimately make yourself known and visible – I know, I repeat this as a mantra now but that’s what everyone who’s running a business should be looking at achieving. Traditional means of advertising may work very well for you – it’s not unusual to see ads in magazines, esp. locally and esp. in specialised magazines, like The ITI Bulletin which is what a sector professional will naturally be more receptive to. And it’s fine! Stick to what works for you, if it does work and provides good ROI results. Still, with the advent of social media and ready-to-use apps, a wide range of possibilities is now at hands, even to give the usual channels a so-called stylish makeover.

So why not making the most of them?

The classic solutions we’ve always used and loved are now enhanced by new technology:

  • Newsletters: the classic way to send marketing content to clients. All you need is to have them register or willfully give you their contact and – being careful to not inundate them! – you can reach a wide audience on a regular basis. Sexy content “sells” more so now with the help of applications that makes this more intuitive and user-friendly, life is much easier.

ResourcesMailchimp allows you to customize newsletter and messages and has a catchy, nice design too.

  • Social media quotes and announcement notes: I like writing and I tend to be concise and to to the point, so micro storytelling is great for me. I do that in the form of short aphorisms or simple tips on what I do and my work. Or ideas and suggestions for clients and colleagues alike (you can find them under the hashtag #rainytips on Twitter or Instagram).

Resources: I love Notegraphy that lets you use fancy design to write your own phrase and share it on different platform; Paper, if you like drawing and have a tablet and a stylus; Phoster, to apply words and graphics onto photos to create nice photo-posters; Over, provides a tool to write over images with a selection of fonts and colours. And these are only some (iPhone).

  • Event promotion sites: if you organize events or conferences, advertising and ticket sale is easily done online now.

Resources: Eventbrite – a platform that connects to PayPal and has a wide range of functions for organizers and participants alike. There’s an app too to download your ticket and show it in e-format at events. With Lanyrd you can discover all conferences in your area, so it’s a useful little tool to bear in mind.

  • Customised e-brochures or presentations: they are the e-version of printed material. I personally try to not print on paper anymore and use my tablet to carry all these with me so why not providing your existing and potential clients with a practical e-book, or PDF or e-brochure?

Resources: : you can use InDesign to create functional brochures but of course you will need to have the program and be familiar with it. You can always have the support of a professional if you’re ready to invest.Presentations can created and shared with Prezi or SlideShare, equally useful tools. Just create an account and go ahead.

Resources: I’m using Big Cartel but you can try Etsy too.

Cups, anyone?

Cups, anyone?

  • Alternative print material: you can make business cards, postcards or other small paper material with your logo or content on.

Resources: Moo is an affordable solution, with easy upload, longish times for delivery but with a good value for money and nice quality.

Rainy London Moo cards

Rainy London Moo cards

  • videomaking/casting: screen casting is a fairly new thing but it’s not, after all. A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration. The term screencast compares with the related term screenshot. Showing your clients how something’s is done may help them choose you over someone else. Tutorials are a simple way to show you know your stuff! Also, classic videos help you get known. People like storytelling (even though it’s easy to write but not to narrate) so one of the main key to going viral is sharing and tell something personal. Virgin’s CEO does just that in his blog. And as much as photos, videos are powerful tools to create engagement and establish personal closeness.

Resource: I’ve been using Camtasia but there are other good solutions like Screenr.com. Also check on SourceForge to see if you find anything.  I’ve done this promo to advertise a series of video on how to create a successful business with Camtasia and then uploaded it online on Vimeo.

  • Audio: good ol’ recording can always be effective. I recently updated my About.me page with audio samples of my voiceover work so potential clients can hear me and see what I sound like.

Resources: record audio with WavePad or Audacity and then publish on SoundCloud for instance.

So, renovarse o morir. What will you do?

Typography (aka: not every brand needs a logo after all)

Welcome to a new appointment with #RainyBrandingTuesday (the last one from California!)
I, once again, got inspired by this county and in particular, by San Francisco, where I’ve spent the last 10 days walking around, taking pictures and yes, working.
As a topic for today I’ve chosen typography.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.26.09

I love typo…graphy

When we talk or think about typography, most classic images spring immediately to the mind of non-designers: typewriters, ancient styles handwritten by monks in isolated monasteries or Gutenberg, who brought the printing press into Europe around 1439.

Actually, in the design world, typography is all things letters and fonts and also a fundamental element of logo design. Yes, logos don’t necessarily need to to be icons: in fact, most of the logos/branding we see around us work because of the specific, custom font they have. Take the classic examples of Coca-Cola.

Always Coca-Cola

Always Coca-Cola

One of the trends in San Francisco is to use smashing typography – with a vintage flavour.
Some real examples below:

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.29.52Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.30.28Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.30.13Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.30.05Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 06.02.54

The vintage/retro approach is a fairly popular one:fonts

And still, proves to be quite of an evergreen and a pleasing solution to the eye – its being something that reminds of a glorious past does not jeopardise the power of logos and in fact, it does reinforce the concept of reliability and modernity – funnily enough!

Some other brands neverthlesse go for a more directly modern take:

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.49.32Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.49.16Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.43.52Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.42.15Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 05.40.57and they tend to be in, guess what? Black 🙂
As mentioned in this very interesting article here are 7 design options to consider for the typography of your logo:

1. The right font: The most obvious element of typography is font choice. Your brand’s personality is expressed in the fonts used to present its name and tagline in your logo.
2. Combination of fonts: When used together, fonts need to complement each other the same way colors do, and they shouldn’t have competing styles.
3. Number of fonts: In a logo, fonts need to be used sparingly. One or two carefully paired choices will make your logo aesthetically pleasing and professional.
4. Letter scaling and 5. Spacing
5. Font weight: A heavy-weight font is bold and strong. A light-weight font is elegant and soft.
7. Capitalisation. Uppercase can create a more streamlined look; lowercase can be more casual and friendly.

All in all, there should always be a target in the choice of your font and possibly logo design.

  • Think of the product: is it modern? Is it food? Is it a classic? Just find out the idea behind it.
  • Never forget about the colour palette – would the color you like go well with the style? Maybe a neon pink won’t work with a retro style just as a taupe shade is not ideal for a uber modern font.
  • Are you planning on inserting an icon? Matching the right styles is key.
  • What adjective is your logo representing: casual, slim, elegant, classic, cutting-edge… that should be reflected.
  • Always ask for professional advice: keep a list of sites and examples you like to show your designer, as references do help to find your unique approach and ensure consistency
  • Less is more sometimes: a strong typeface is, in many cases, more than enough to make your brand stand out.

Want to read more?

Here are some interesting hints – and remember to follow today’s hashtag, #RainyBrandingTuesday for more!


Be different (but the same, pretty much!) Why do companies have different names for the same brands

Today’s instalment of #RainyBrandingTuesday has been inspired by brands around me (I’m in San Francisco at the moment).

In California, crisps are not called Walkers, but Lays (as in Spain and other countries). And TKMaxx – a famous outlet for designer brands in the UK – is known as TJmaxx.

Some other examples spring to mind: Italian ice-cream Algida is Walls in the UK and in Spain,  it’s Frigo.

Bold – the washing machine liquid or powder – is known Bolt in Italy. Or again, Diet Coke is Coca-Cola Light in most Mediterranean countries. Vauxhall cars are known as Opel in Europe; the Belgian mobile operator “Base” is often jokingly pronounced “Bezz” by French speakers, and the list could go on…

But why?

Well, for different reasons.

The main underlying reason though is related to translation, and more specifically localization.

One of the best examples I’ve read about recently in an article by Adam Wooten mentions a Swedish car magazine named “Fart.”

It's not what it looks like...

It’s not what it looks like…

The name makes sense when you know that “fart” is a Swedish word meaning “speed.” Though the title caused no fuss in the magazine’s home country, there was considerable embarrassment when magazine staff traveled to international races and events. And again: “In Japan, automakers have marketed the Nissan Moco and the Mazda Laputa. Imagine exporting to Spain or any Spanish-speaking country…  where “moco” means booger and “laputa” sounds like some slang word for, well, prostitute. 

Sometimes, it’s just sensible to change name for a different country. The Huffington Post mentions the example of a Californian ice cream company.

The founders get equal recognition after all.

The founders get equal recognition after all.

Founded in 1928 by business partners William Dreyer and Joseph Edy in northern California, it was known as Edy’s Grand Ice Cream until 1947, when Mr. Edy left the business. In 1953, Mr. Dreyer took over and renamed the company. In 1981 the company expanded to the East Coast, but decided to use the Edy’s name because they thought the name Dreyer’s might get confused with Breyer’s, an East Coast ice cream brand. 

This also happens in translation, especially when companies create divisions under the same umbrella brand, that will then be used as trading names.

The pharmaceutical sector does the same, but not always (think of Nurofen or Yasmin but remember that Aspirine is AspirinA in Italy).

Localization is a fairly good reason alone for doing this but there are also also other points that are actually very important when exporting abroad. Another reason are legal issues, that may prevent sales under an already registered name.

This answer I found on Quora provides a nice recap:

  • EXPANSION: In some cases, a multinational buys local industries of a specific product (like Unilever did with local ice cream companies in many countries) as a market strategy. Where the name of national brand is strong, it is common to keep the original name, even when the international visual identity is adopted.
  •  LANGUAGE: In other cases the international name of the product may be inappropriate or even offensive in a specific language or local slang. One example is the SUV Pajero from Mitsubishi. “Pajero” in some Spanish speaking countries is slang for masturbation (that’s why it’s been later changed to “Montero”)
  • LEGAL: In the last case, there is a possibility that a local brand previously owned the legal right to use a name similar or identical of the multinational product. Usually, the multinational offers to buy the local brand just to use the name on their own product. When the deal fails, another name has to be created.

So, what are the takeaways? Differentiating brands: 


Want to read more?

  1. Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com/you-wont-believe-what-these-huge-brands-are-called-outside-the-us-2013-2
  2. Some brands do not translate well – http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700078810/Some-brand-names-dont-translate-well.html?pg=all
  3. The Huffington Post on different brand names http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/02/food-products-with-different-brand-names_n_1250304.html
  4. A bad case of translation: “fart” – http://jalopnik.com/5171031/fart-magazine-a-bad-case-of-swedish-translation-meatballs

Rebranding: change is good but with scope

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Many of you probably know that I’m spending this March in California, and what better place to talk branding than the birthplace of my all-time fave, Apple?

Apples Address, Cupertino

Hi, Infinite Loop.

Today’s topic is rebranding.

Rebranding: a simple definition

Rebranding: a simple definition

Yes, because sometimes even great ideas need a little twist to be still relevant and modern. Apple did this in the past, switching from the an intricate tree and apple – representing Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree reading a book*  – to a multicoloured apple that does remind the current logo.

*Fun Fact: The first logo is Indian ink drawing, 

The apple that doesn't fall far from the tree...

The apple that doesn’t fall far from the tree…

The inner simplicity and user-friendly approach that Apple has always predicated converted the colorful options into a black hue then into a minimal, – and to me – almost primordial dirty white. After all, who hadn’t associated white with Mac in the past 10 years?

And also: how would have the brand been different had it used the 1976 option?

Branding sometimes goes all the way far from the existing – and it wins. One example I’m in love with is USA Today: the world became a simple circle and the clever idea here is to use colours to differentiate topics. So intuitive, so obvious, yet genius.

See for yourself how the rebranding permeates all spheres of the brand 

Before the lift.

Before the lift.

USA TODAY likes colours

USA TODAY likes colours

I found it for myself today in the hotel. Brand bliss.

I found it for myself today in the hotel. Brand bliss.

A great example of a sector that really needs style to sell is tourism. We all know that a place like Bahamas is amazing and why would it even need to advertise itself… if everybody knows it’s incredible, right? Well, the existing site of Bahamas wasn’t exactly selling the idea of a paradise: cluttered, non-usable and certainly not very reliable-looking.

This rebranding is nothing short of amazing, just like the diversity of the islands themselves.

Bahamas is amazing. And I've never been there!

Bahamas is amazing. And I’ve never even been there!

Duffy and Partners took up the challenge, bearing this in mind:

We quickly determined that the many choices and marketing messages from sun and sand vacation destinations created clutter and a sea of sameness. No one stood out. Nothing seemed unique. The Bahamas was significantly outspent by many of its competitors and they weren’t getting their full return from the many dollars spent by the numerous constituents involved in supporting the country’s tourism efforts”.

So, they decided to

Create branded desire for the Bahamas. Differentiate the nation as the preferred sun and sand vacation destination”.

Some examples of successful rebranding can be found int the translation industry as well and these two are very close to my heart as we worked on them together with Fabio, my designer: Astra Translations and WantWords.



and... After!

and… After!



and... after!

and… after!

All this must be supported by impeccable customer care and well, outstanding products, but that’s mostly a given in all industries.

Often rebranding or reformulation… can indeed go wrong. And this is because renewing for renewing’s sake is just, well wrong. As they say, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

That’s what some very famous brands tried (and failed) in the past and the example I chose is Coca-Cola. As mentioned in this article on the topic, the the mistake was making a “New Coke”:

When Coca-Cola changed the formula for its famous Coke brand in 1985, the public reacted as if the company had ruined a symbol of America. It took less than three months for Coca-Cola to pull the new formula from shelves and return to the original formula which they rebranded as “Coke Classic.” What happened? Some marketing experts believe that Coca-Cola failed to ask the simplest and most important question: “Do we need to reengineer our formula?”

New Coke rebranding

If the Time goes no, well… it can’t be good.

How does rebranding create a plus for your business?

  • it creates interest and possibly makes you the talk of the minute
  • it shows you care: investing in your image makes you ahead of the time and shows you are not scared of (good) change
  • it can create more added value: you can decide to retarget the brand too. Apple was already an elite brand but pushed it over the limit with the new style + conceptual look
  • it helps sending a different message: maybe you wish to attract a different type of client or branch out into a new business. This fosters the change
  • it makes you more credible: especially when done professionally and with clever scope, a new logo or a rebranding shows you can be trusted.

Want to read more? Read these:

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/10-most-successful-rebranding-campaigns-2011-2?op=1
  2. http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/35148.asp#multiview
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2013/10/05/apples-most-important-branding-lesson-for-marketers/

(and follow the hashtag #RainyBrandingTuesday of course!)


The importance of being… redundant (or: consistent branding pays off)

I’m not here to talk about linguistics or redundancy itself, don’t worry! I decided to open with a provocative title just to mention something that often goes unnoticed by freelancers: consistency in branding. Ever wondered how to get a better positioning for your brand?

Nike, Adidas, Apple... they all are consistent.

Nike, Adidas, Apple… they all are consistent.

Your (key)words will help you. How? Well, in short and without going too geeky, you have to make sure you stuff your website and pages with keywords that can redirect your prospects to you (read: your website, your Facebook, your Twitter, your blog, your shop and all that jazz).

The same is true for ‘redundancy’. Let me explain: while redundancy won’t help you in writing a novel – or in translation, where usually, unless it’s your style and you like it so, redundancy is carefully avoided) – being redundant in terms of branding will help Google like you more. The search engine does appreciate consistency.

Consistency in branding is very crucial: as mentioned in several webinars on this topic, clients want clarity and if they know your name or brand that’s what they are likely to be remembering when looking for you. You would not believe the number of times I’ve tried to remember someone’s Twitter handle or website but failed miserably as they didn’t match their main identity. The same is true for your clients – and you want to be found, not irritate your source of work!

Of course, there’s nothing wrong in choosing a trading name (eg. Laura Rossi is a legal entity trading under ‘Rossi Linguistic Services’, to make an example) but in my experience, the easier the set of avatars, names, handles and domains you have, the better eg. my Twitter is @rainylondon, my FB is RainyLondonTranslations and so on and so forth.

In a recent talk on SEO by colleague and friend Xosé Castro, he mentioned Namechk.com, a very useful tool that lets you check whether the name you’re willing to use is taken or not and on which platforms. Another good point Xosé mentioned is the use of the so-called  ‘Vanity URLs’. Vanity URLs are meant to be doing exactly what they say on the tin:

☞ ☞ ☞ identify you and you only, to help you stand out of the crowd (the only case when being vain is a must-do!)

Try to be different... :)

Try to be different… 🙂

To recap, to be consistent in branding – at least at a very basic level – you can:

  • make sure your domain is easy to write down and that it reflects your actual brand name e.g.: Rainy London Translations is exactly that on my website
  • create a vanity URL – it can be applied to most platforms and they are trustworthy in the eyes of your audience and easier to remember

    Repetita iuvant (at least here)

    Rainy London Translations’ Vanity URL is… obvious.

  • use handle names or account user names that follow the KISS (keep it simple) approach, making sure they refer to you/your brand. No underscores or dots, whenever possible – and no number unless it’s in your brand name
  • customize every section of your platforms – info fields, images that are yours and only yours, graphics that show your name and brand logo etc. Covers can be made specifically for Twitter or Facebook – bear in mind they have to respect specific guidelines of sizing and shape
  • make sure your blog is consistent too – it can have a different name but clearly refer to your main brand or be linked to your main page
  • make sure all photos & hyperlinks are wisely named and used ( = rich in keywords) so that they can drive traffic to your page.

These are just a few tips and ideas.

Anything else?

Anything else?

☞ Do you have any others?

☞ What’s your experience?

☞ Want to read more?

  1. http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/10/10/vanity-url
  2. http://www.vanityurlshorteners.com
  3. http://digitalmarketing-glossary.com/What-is-Vanity-URL-definition

…and of course, stay tuned on Twitter and Facebook for the #RainyBrandingTuesday hashtag throughout today.

(Special thanks to APTIC + Xosé Castro for the inspiration on the topic for this article. His SEO talk is available for a short period of time. PW: APTIC)

Custom this!

Today in the new appointment with #RainyBrandingTuesday, I want to talk about customization and gadgets.

We may immediately think of those pens you grab at trade shows, those anti-stress little gadgets that my dad used to bring home from a conference he’s been too and even magnets, yes, the touristy ones.

Well, there’s nothing wrong with them – because who doesn’t love a pen? From the name you used to write on your school diary to the pendant at Tiffany’s to the engraving on a purse or even an iPad, customization has been used for centuries since the time the amanuensis was a popular trade.

V like very nice

V like very nice

We miss you, Steve

We miss you, Steve

A translator, please

A translator, please

In marketing, that also applies: it means finding a country-tailored product or strategy which focuses on cross-border differences in the needs and wants of target customers, appropriately changing products in order for them to match local market conditions.

Basically, in the language industry, that is achieved with dubbing, or subtitles or first and foremost, with localization ie. adapting the company’s products to local needs.

Think of Nike ID – you can even have your initials sewn into the shoes! And what about the recent project from Coca Cola and the frantic search for a can with your name on it? If you think about Starbucks, have you ever noticed that despite the general theme, every country has differente paninis or drinks?

Colour me pretty

Colour me pretty




Three is the magic number


Espresso, one sugar

 I am sucker for all things personalized and so far I’ve made the most of affordable solutions to market my services as an entrepreneur: stickers, coffee cups, badges, tote bags, oyster cards… the choice is yours and should be tailored to the audience or type of message.

Rainy Stickers!

Rainy Stickers!


– it makes your brand stand out

– people like to be given things – it shows you invested

– most people are collectors and like unique things

– pens are very handy, as are USB drives and the likes

– they can be passed on and reach a wider audience

– it creates engagement, promotes brand loyalty

All you need is love

All you need is love


Cuore di mela

Cuore di mela

WHERE TO GET STARTED? Just a few suppliers I’ve used in the past:

  • noths.com – for various retailer that can customized their goodies for you
  • staysource.com – for white label goodies to be fully personalized
  • coffeecups.co.uk – ceramics and china to be customized with your design
  • moo.com or ripedigital.co.uk – for printing needs, banners and cards
  • etsy.com – for jewelry and hand-made little treasures
  • boomf.co.uk – for sweet marshmallows with your IG pictures on them
  • whiteduckscreenprint.co.uk – for hand-made printing on canvas, fabric, tee shirts and totes


– Instagram —> share your ideas and customized images

– Facebook —> complementing your social media strategy and identity

– Pinterest  —> create a board and share away

Read more: 




… See you next week!

Show your true colours (or why the right palette is key)

Today’s appointment with #RainyBrandingTuesday is about the importance of colours.

If you take a moment to think about it, colours play a very crucial role in life – imagine your life as a colour-blind person or a world as an old TV, in black/white. Your universe would look different, as would the mental associations you automatically do in your day-today life, starting from a simple traffic light i.e. red = stop, green = go. All would be altered.

The same is true in all things branding: just think about Coca-Cola, or Microsoft, or Virgin and again, what about NHS or Bupa? Can you see a common thread?

Hint: Nothing is accidental. And it all depends on the type of business and the core strategy/goal of the company behind it.

It looks like it's accidental...

It looks like it’s accidental…

The power of colour dictates the choices of a tone and the message the icon or the logo is set to achieve. As I often say in my workshops on branding, colours influence the viewer and they can be even more powerful – along with the right set of icons – than words (still, don’t worry, translators!)

As in fashion – and if you are an addict like me, you sure know the main Fashion Weeks in the world have now kicked off, with London just closing its door as we speak to leave room for Paris – colours are carefully chosen every season. And in design, a specific coding is used to define them and make sure they look the same and are easily referred to in a rather standardized way.

Spring 2014 has only one shade of Grey

A very Royal attire

A very Royal attire

Pantone  is a system that encodes the chromatic palette and has in recent times become so iconic (and a bit mainstream) – look at these cute cups! – that now even fashion house refers to Pantone’s colour of the year.

Definitely my culpa

Definitely my kinda cuppa

So the idea here is to think about colours very thoroughly before using them on brochures, websites and logos.

My takeaway notes:

~ choose wisely and make sure the shades are harmonious together;

~ too many colors will be distracting and make your layout look unprofessional and ‘cheap’;

~ make them legible, think about their use on a screen AND in print (monitors alter the shade and the result can be brighter or more muted, esp. in the case of very light, pastel colours;

~ think about the business: red is usually very energetic or even aggressive but it-s easily remembered and stimulating; pink can be associated to a more girlish touch while green is naturally bringing up an environmental reference;

~ sometimes your logo will be printed in black. Does it work too?

A savvy use of the right colour palette:

  • will make you remembered
  • will make you be different
  • will evoke the right feelings and sentiments
  • will attract more of the clients you aim to captivate
I'm black. I'm white. Or both.

I’m black. I’m white. Or both.

Want to read more? Deep dive here and here

Join the discussion:

  • Why have you chosen the colour you have for your current business?
  • Was it easy?
  • Was there a rationale behind it? If so, what was it?

#RainyBrandingTuesday: When brands go global (and go wrong!)

Another week and another #RainyBrandingTuesday: welcome to the new appointment of this series.

In today’s installment, I’d like to talk about the relation that brand names have with foreign languages – and how this balance can be terribly subtle and fragile if not approached in a professional way by companies.

As I said in some past articles on branding (one is here), along with the right logo, most of a brand is in the name.

Armies of marketing and advertising experts spend hours if not months thinking about all the implications and the tone for the ‘voice’ of a brand – making sure the appeal is targeting the right audience, the name sounds elegant or approachable, the colours are right and appropriate for the line of business and so on. But when it comes to transcreation… something can go terribly wrong.

As mentioned by Mark Ritson in an interesting article, Pret a Manger – the well-know now-giant chain of fresh sandwiches and baguettes – found itself in front of a potential issue with the adaptation of the brand for France, where it was looking into opening outlets.

Quoting Ritson:

‘Imagine a new London restaurant called Ready to Eat Food and you’ll get the idea. Le nom c’est un problème en France‘.

Matter of fact, I spoke about this with Nelia Fahloun , just the other day over dinner and she confirmed!

I am a big fan of coffee as you may know – and I got a Nespresso machine as a Christmas present last year. It makes lovely coffee and the brand looks so classy and thoroughly structured: the many crus, the shading, the sleek, shiny machines and even the fancy testimonial (!)

The other day I decided to try the Volluto capsules and I talking to an Argentinian friend, all was clear. If you’re pronouncing it with a US English accent (where the ‘t’ becomes almost a soft ‘d’) the effect is hilarious for a porteño as it sounds very similar to “boludo” – typical term used to say idiot.

Well, maybe not a case for changing the name of the capsule altogether, but still food for thoughts (gracias, Rodrigo Mencia).

Not as stupid as it sounds

Similarly, I always giggle when I think of the UK online grocery store Ocado, whose brand in Italian means ‘Oh, I fall’ or if I think of that time I had to work on the localization of a brochure for a famous baby products company and the name of their best selling pram meant the equivalent of ‘scam’ in an Italian dialect… Ah the joys of freelancing 🙂

A tiny wee wrong

Similarly… Would you ever import this into the UK?Or maybe THIS?!

Maybe it’s just his name…

The examples are many, see them here and have a laugh:

What can we do to avoid such blunders?

  1. Think internationally – esp. check for slang!
  2. Always ask for a double-check with a native speaker. Brainstorming does help a lot!
  3. Rethink strap lines – nothing beats local knowledge. And the more  natural-sounding, the better impact.
  4. Think of how names are pronounced in other countries – especially where you want to export! Colgate is famously read as it is written in Spain or Italy, as is Burberry.
Burberry sounds like 'burberi' in Italian (grouchy people, that is)

Burberry sounds like ‘burberi’ in Italian (grouchy people, that is)

In Italian you read like it's written! That's what my mother always says.

In Italian you read like it’s written! That’s what my mother always says.

Do you have any good examples to add to this list?

What would you suggest to avoid these funny but terrible errors?