Branding and corporate identity: why translators and interpreters should really think about it (aka: a ‘sui generis’ case study)

The original article was first drafted and written ad-hoc for the ITI ScotNet Newsletter issued in June 2012 – Guest Article Section. The link to read/download it is this: http://bit.ly/ScotNetJune2012

(Thanks Isabel Hurtado de Mendoza and ITI)

Some minor amends have been made on the way to adapt it to the blog.

Rainy London Translations is a small translation/interpreting business ans I’ve been lucky enough to be thriving in a recession time since 2008, first in Devon and now in London. But you should know me already – esp. if you’re reading this!

Well, back on track with the topic! A small business does not mean that the scope should be small, too. Online visibility is all the more crucial in a world like this, where all is connected and users can access services and companies with one click. This is why, when I decided to start my own business, I always knew I needed an idea, a name, a brand, an identity. Your business – because translators and interpreters, after all, are nothing but entrepreneurs – it’s your brainchild. I’m no marketing expert or advertising consultant but when I had to choose the name for my new ‘baby’, I was, since the beginning, sure of a few things. It’s no easy feat, either, but that’s the starting point. 

1. Identify your business. Choose whether you want to project the idea of a field, of an industry, of a specialty, or of a quality e.g. I chose “translations” because I felt I could offer more than only interpreting (my first love) but I wanted something that everybody, every ‘layman’ would understand. “Language/s” was good word too, but sounded a bit too general and corporate and I wanted to be direct. “Interpreting” was an option, of course, but too ‘obscure’ in most people’s eyes. So translation it was. It’s up to you, it’s YOUR business.

2. Choose a name – aka: the hardest part. I had to come up with a name but hey, it took 3 long, excruciating days. Days of brainstorming with my partner, family and pretty much anybody I know (and have faith in). It was after rejecting the many bad (‘Aliperta Language Services, scarily sounding like the brand of the archenemy of most PSI interpreters!!!), the many ugly (“what about ‘Gladiator’ translations?”, the echo of my father’s appalling ideas would ring in my ears…), that the good finally came along, as a storm. My (then exhausted and bored) partner Fabio and I was hit by the typical ‘eureka moment’. Once, as a student, I used to have a nickname. It was perfect. That name was ‘rainy London’.

4. Identify a colour palette and a direction. Once you have the name, think of a colour palette. A shade you love or an evocative hue are the way to go. Maybe without going too OTT, as sobriety is always key. Don’t get me wrong, even fluorescent or neon colours are perfect if used in the right way and the right combination. I liked red or pink but I still wanted something professional and clearly remembered. And the direction is key, too. Opt for something that reflects your style, your approach. Something ‘yours’. Well, not that I’m a rain-loving or sad person or anything related to rain in any way, but I certainly *love* London (and you gotta love its rain too). I knew that was the place (or the icon, the idea, the concept) that I wanted to project to others and it was where I wanted to be. I visualised myself there and that was my inspiration. So, it does not have to be a place, of course. But as the name you go for is going to stick around for a while, hopefully, you have to like it yourself first and foremost.

5. Hire a professional designer. With name and concept up the sleeve, I joined forces with Fabio Benedetti, a professional designer (and love of my life, too!) to conceive my logo, first. You may or may not go for a logo, but in any case, choose a font for your name. That should be unique and distinctive. So here’s how we envisioned the logo to be – and trust me, it’s been as hard as choosing a name! (www.artscode.com; http://artscode.prosite.com; http://dribbble.com/cocorino)

We brainstormed on rain, umbrellas, landmarks… and other ideas that got filtered before reaching this set of icons – below.

Logo_study_for_rainy_london

As tweaks will be on the cards, make sure you build a dialogue with your designer and you give him/her a detailed brief explaining what you want and how. A good designer should be able to steer the wheel and adjust your vision to your desire.

6. Identity: now that you have it, use it. Well!

This is how we decided the identity of Rainy London was going to be: headed paper, business cards and compliment slips.

But you can then go on with envelopes, postcards and other stationery, iPhone covers, stickers, pens, mugs… your pick.

[Pic: RL identity]

Rlbcards_identity

At a later stage, I also came up with an idea for Xmas cards and linked to that, other occasional marketing material that would be also ideal to be used in Facebook, Twitter and other online profiles. So, with Fabio I developed the character “Hug Me”, now used as a favicon for most of my profile pictures on the web. It was just another way to keep the brand fresh and upbeat.

As I said that the location is always important, I thought that Oyster cards would be relevant, as the real must-have of every Londoners.

[Pic: FB + Twitter + Hug Me character as a screensaver + Oyster Cards ] 

Rl2_desktop_screensaverTwitter_profile_rlPhoto_2Facebook_fan_page_rl

On the side, I like coffee very much, so why not turning your passion into something you can use for your business too? Here’s how the Rainy Cups were born. And to make things more interesting, I also decided to run a few competitions on my blog, for people to get involved via twitter or Facebook to win one  Worried about the costs? Of course, these should be seen as investments but you don’t have to spend a fortune in suppliers, either: sometimes, nice things do come at decent prices, too. For the cups, I used http://www.coffeecups.co.uk. Very wide choice and nice people.

Rainycups1

[RL espresso cup: available for purchase here]

Yet to conclude…

BE SMASHING. The name choice is one of the most important steps of this process towards identity. So here’s an extra piece of advice to start with the right foot. A name able to draw people’s attention is always going to be remembered – hopefully for good and not bad reasons! So, have a look around and think of the logos you see. What sticks the most with you is what counts – find your way to be ‘smashing’:

S-hort

M-emorable

A-ppealing

S-imple

H-onest

I-nnovative and iconic

N-eat

G-raceful

Hope you liked it. Stay tuned as a series of more in-depth articles are coming up!

And if you’re curious: find me on:

Rainy London Translations’ BLOG http://rainylondontranslations.posterous.com

Twitter: @rainylondon

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About Val

London-based Rainy London Translations is offering a full range of top quality interpreting, localisation, translation, consultancy and voice-overservices for both businesses and individuals. Need something else? Just ask! It may sound like a cliché, but just get in touch: what you need can be done, at a reasonable price. Valeria is also offering a 'branding' clinic service, to help freelancers find their perfect business name or polish the existing identity by finding a logo, a tagline with sound creative consultancy. Based in the City of Westminster area, the heart of London, UK, since August 2011.

7 responses to “Branding and corporate identity: why translators and interpreters should really think about it (aka: a ‘sui generis’ case study)

  1. Marco Cevoli

    Thanks for the interesting post! The ones of you who can Italian should also take a look at a series of blog posts I published long ago on Qabiria’s website. We documented the whole branding process and the logo design process of our newly created translation company. You can start from here: http://www.qabiria.com/it/blog/40-blogcategory/49-scelta-del-nome-analisi.html and then browse the Archivio messaggi (September 2006) and eventually watch the genesis of the logo as a narrated slideshow: http://www.qabiria.com/it/blog/40-blogcategory/79-genesi-marchio-qabiria.html

  2. Pingback: What’s in a good business name? « Translator T.O.

  3. lukegos

    Well, Val, in your case it very clearly does work. I wonder why I’m skeptical overall, though (me and my non-branding). Perhaps it has something to do with the quality of names, logos etc. you see everywhere in business.

    • Well, of course each and every one has a different story (and needs). Drop me a line to discuss!

      • lukegos

        Definitely, but watch out! My mouth never shuts once I start babbling about something I’m really interested in. My personal favourites are the top middle, lower middle right and centre… though there is something special about the ones in the corners (not a great fan of fuchsia, personally, but #c90c93 is still a great shade)… perhaps because the bottom right one brings out associations with the old Netscape logo. 😉 Looking at the top middle one made flinch in my own resolve not to have a logo, actually. It really has that kind of impact.

    • lukegos

      P.S. All of the logos are good, but some are really first class (top and right mostly). Great combo with a moody stylish name.

  4. Pingback: #RainyBrandingTuesday: When brands go global (and go wrong!) | Rainy London Branding

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