I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Candy Moss, Creative Director with Translations.com, to discuss the importance of multilingual global brand management as a success criterion for global organizations.
LC: What role does a creative team play within Translations.com?
CM: Our Creative Team operates as a resource to our corporate clients’ marketing and advertising teams. Our Multicultural Marketing Department provides cross-cultural branding research, copy transcreation, and image consulting services as part of Translations.com’s core service offering.
LC: What is your background?
CM: 20 years in multicultural marketing consulting, with a background in content and creative design; my experience at Translations.com has increased my expertise in Hispanic markets in the U.S. as well as global markets considerably.
LC: How large is the Creative Team and what kinds of tasks are they involved with?
CM: We have close to 20 full time staff across multiple, global production centers. We also contract copy writers, graphic designers, and linguists. Our tasks include researching the impact of brand names, package design, website layout and content; any elements that impact of the global products nuances such as tone, style, design, content, format, color and illustrations.
LC: So that means your team does both transadaptation and transcreation work, correct? For global branding projects, which skill set is needed most?
CM: Both are important. However, adapting marketing messages has more to do preserving the concept (of the message) and changing the execution than with word for word translations. The example on “The Lighter Side” of our Web site demonstrates the challenge of dealing with the intricacies of culture.
LC: What kinds of research does the creative team rely on?
CM: We have extensive qualitative data based on 10 years of proprietary research. We develop customized survey tools based on each client’s needs. Once we get feedback from the target market, we work closely with the client’s creative team. This is also essential because they are the subject matter experts in their company’s product, positioning goals, and target customers. Generally, we function as an extension of a company’s brand champion team: the advertising agency is, in my experience, the group that is the first to recognize the need for our services. In the end, we team up with the agency and the company’s internal staff, serving as a general resource to the group.
LC: What are some of the best practices you have seen in global branding efforts?
CM: Understanding the need for due diligence in obtaining, understanding, and incorporating the voice of the local customer. And then, having the skills to distinguish between individual opinions and reactions to those of the larger culture. Overall? Understand your goals: why are you making these localization efforts and how effectively do they convey your company’s goals.
LC: And the worst?
CM: The idea that one person can assume what a culture will or will not bear. You really have to be open minded so that you are receptive to what impact a phrase or image will have in each cultural setting. A single line of copy or image can have a lasting impact — you want to do everything you can to be sure that impact is positive. Even after 20 years in the industry, and evaluating more survey responses than I can count, I learn something new every day.
LC: What is your advice for those striving to communicate the importance of the local in globalization?
CM: Ask your team to put themselves in the target market’s shoes. If that market receives only x percentage of localized content, the perception may be that they are only as important as the effort put into communicating with them. In terms of marketing and global branding efforts, think of the effort put into the taglines or slogans in the source language, usually English. When adapting the message to a different culture, give the effort the same level of respect.
Google announced they are rolling out offline access to Google Docs over the next few weeks, starting with a small percentage of users. According to a post on the Official Google Docs Blog: “With Google Docs offline (powered by Google Gears), I can take my little piece of the cloud with me wherever I go. Once enabled, I have a local version of my document list and editors, along with my documents. As long as I have an Internet connection, every change I make is saved to the cloud. When I lose my connection, I sacrifice some features, but I can still access my documents (for this initial release, you can view and edit word processing documents; right now we don’t support offline access to presentations or spreadsheets…). Everything I need is saved locally. And I do everything through my web browser, even when I’m offline … When my connection comes back, my documents sync up again with the server. It’s all pretty seamless: I don’t have to remember to save my documents locally before packing my laptop for a trip. I don’t have to remember to save my changes as soon as I get back online. And I don’t have to switch applications based on network connectivity.” Offline access is only available in English for now. They’re working on offline access in other languages. It will also be available to Google Apps users soon, and domain administrators that want it now can opt-in via their control panel. http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2008/03/bringing-cloud-with-you.html
The Linux Foundation (LF), the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, announced that Adobe Systems Incorporated is joining the Foundation. Adobe is joining the LF to collaborate on the advancement of Linux as a platform for rich Internet applications (RIA) and Web 2.0 technologies. http://www.linux-foundation.org/
C2C announced the availability of its Archive Search Services which allows customers a range of open access points to massive amounts of archived email data to improve productivity. Archive Search Services features include: A Federated Search Provider, which allows enterprise search solutions, including Microsoft Search Server 2008, Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) and Internet Explorer’s ‘custom search providers,’ to pass search queries directly to Archive One and accept and display results returned from there; A Search Connector, which allows search servers such as Microsoft Search Server and Windows Search access to the archive index in order for them to build index data within their own servers; A Google Search plug-in for search access to the email archive from Google Desktop and Enterprise; and Support for the OpenSearch v1.1 standard which allows any application supporting this standard to gain access to the archive data. http://www.c2c.com
HP (NYSE:HPQ) and Tower Software announced that they have signed a pre-bid agreement for HP to acquire Tower, a document and records management software company based in Canberra, Australia. The acquisition of Tower will add electronic records management to HP Software’s existing e-discovery and compliance capabilities in information collection and retention. This includes both records management and identification. Under an existing alliance between the companies, Tower TRIM Context has been integrated with the HP Integrated Archive Platform to provide customers with a combined records management and compliance archiving solution. Combining HP’s and Tower’s overall software capabilities will enable customers to identify electronic business records from general business communication, collect those business records in a scalable and high-performance archive platform and preserve them for long-term future use in legal discovery or compliance activities. The addition of Tower also is expected to enable HP Software to address the Microsoft SharePoint compliance and e-discovery opportunities. The board of directors of Tower has unanimously approved the transaction and recommends that Tower shareholders accept HP’s offer in the absence of a higher third-party offer. The acquisition will be conducted by means of an off-market takeover bid for all of the outstanding shares of Tower. The takeover is expected to close in the second quarter of calendar year 2008. More information is available at http://www.hp.com/go/tower
DocsCorp announced it has significantly expanded its integration capability to include NetDocuments, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider. NetDocuments, a vendor of SaaS document, email and collaborative document services, provides legal, real estate, financial and health service professionals with instant access to their “work” (documents, emails, projects etc) no matter where they are. Documents are stored in a repository that users access through their browser. Integration with pdfDocs Desktop means that NetDocuments users will be able to “pull down” documents to their local system, convert them to PDF and “push” them back as new or related documents. Alternatively, users can save documents into NetDocuments as PDFs direct from MS Word. DocsCorp plans to extend its integration within the next couple of months to help NetDocuments provide a feature-rich, efficient and secure document service to its clients. Some of the features earmarked to be included in the next release will be the ability to save a document back into NetDocuments as the current or new version of an existing document. http://www.netdocuments.com,
As part of the review I was doing of the eBookWise-1150, I played some with their publishing tools. The device maker, eBook Technologies, Inc. (ETI), has some tools for publishers, and I tried both a batch processing tool and an interactive one. I say “played” with them because I only tried a few things, and there were many features, especially to the interactive tool. The tools looked very solid. I have also played around some with the Kindle Digital Text Platform. I do this to learn the tools, but also to keep myself honest. We advise clients on these devices and also the workflow surrounding eBook creation. Our clients don’t expect us to know every bell and whistle, but they do expect us to understand what is possible and not possible.
The more eBooks become attractive options for publishers, the more issues of publishing to multiple formats and platforms become important for publishers. Our experience so far has been that the most typical requirement for publishers is the need to produce eBooks in many different formats and not just one (this despite sensible solutions like IDPF’s EPUB format). And they need to do this efficiently. This is a practical reality of the marketplace today as no one eBook format has won the format war, no one channel is dominating sales, and indeed no one channel is typically worth doing on its own. The revenues simply are not there yet. (Indeed, even if you decide that you will only do, say, PDF-based eBooks, the similarities from one channel to the next end with the PDF extension, necessitating technologies like codeMantra’s Universal PDF).
Adobe is one of the vendors supporting EPUB, and their Digital Editions developer site has some good resources. They just added an EPUB Best Practices Guide (in, not surprisingly, EPUB format, so you can download Digital Editions if you want to get right to reading it).
Andy Updegrove is keeping a running tally over at Standards Blog.
UPDATE: Updegrove is now reporting OOXML will pass the vote, and Slashdot has a roundup that includes reports of irregularities in the voting.