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.
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.
Some news from the W3C:
The XSL Working Group has published the First Public Working Draft of Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) Requirements Version 2.0. This document enumerates the collected requirements for a 2.0 version of XSL Formatting Objects (XSL-FO), not for XSLT. XSL-FO is widely deployed in industry and academia where multiple output forms (typically print and online) are needed from single source XML. It is used in many diverse applications and countries on a large number of implementations to create technical documentation, reports and contracts, terms and conditions, invoices and other forms processing, such as driver’s licenses and postal forms. The XSL Working Group invites people to help prioritize the feature set of XSL 2.0 by completing a survey until the end of September 2008.
I talk to developers who have ideas about improving XLST. Now is your chance.
The World WIde Web Consortium XML Query Working Group has published two First Public Working Drafts: “XQuery Scripting Extension 1.0” and “XQuery Scripting Extension 1.0 Use Cases.” The former defines an extension to XQuery 1.0 and XQuery Update facility. Expressions can be evaluated in a specific order, with later expressions seeing the effects of the expressions that came before them. This specification introduces the concept of a block with local variable declarations, as well as several new kinds of expressions, including assignment, while, continue, break, and exit expressions. The latter specification includes the usage scenarios that motivate the changes in the former. http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/WD-xquery-sx-10-20080328/. Also see https://gilbane.com/2008/03/first_public_working_draft_of/
So I have been reviewing an eBook device, the eBookWise-1150, for an upcoming issue of eContent Magazine, and I have to say that I am sold with the reading experience. More detail to come in the actual review of course, but I tried reading in a few settings–indoor evening light, on the subway aboveground and below, outdoors a bit–and I could read comfortably in each setting. I also like the size. This picture is my crude attempt to show the screen size of the eBookWise device against the other devices I often read on–my notebook, a desktop computer in the Gilbane office, and my tiny Motorola cell phone.
For those of you who follow structured FDA submissions such as RPS (Regulated Product Submissions) and SPL (Structured Product Labeling), you should be interested in XPortal.,a portal for preparing electronic submissions for the FDA. Under the direction of the FDA, GlobalSubmit has developed XForms that capture these submissions.
Michael Smith, the new Executive Director at the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), writes with some news about their upcoming conference in New York, Digital Book 08. Michael notes that the emerging global eBook market and the adoption of the EPUB digital publication standard will be high on the agenda. Included in the program will be a session on “The eBook Industry in Japan.” Mikio Amaya, President and CEO of PAPYLESS Co Ltd, Tokyo, the number one retailer for PC and mobile eBooks in Japan, will be presenting. Michael reports that the number of visitors to PAPYLESS sites is up to 4,800,000 people monthly, with 43,000,000 monthly page views.