branding · creativity · finding your way · freelancing

The Paradigm of Prince for Freelancers



I can’t help myself from writing a few words about Prince. I admit I was shocked by his death. I loved his music and his style. However there are things about him I discovered only now. Things that were too strong not to write about.

This afternoon, instead of working on a translation due Tuesday, but it will do,  I spent some time reading articles about him and what happened, watching him perform old songs, listening to what Stevie Wonder and Van Jones had to say about their friend and other data “in the purple” that I need to sit and blend it all, to make sense of what Prince really stood for. Not just for the music world but for every creative.

Skipping the part that he was an incredibly charismatic musician, Prince represented what generosity should be like (he gave to charity without letting the world know about it) , he was a pioneer in branding, he was there for his friends when they needed him, he was doing a lot undercover and, as Van Jones said, This is a man much more than music, the music is an expression of a genius, so deep and profound that only music can express it, so much more than music, so much more.

And that is what clicked to me. “So much more“. And yet, what we know of Prince is his music and the love symbol representing him. We know him for the songs he wrote and sang and the pieces he wrote for others, including Nothing Compares to U, Manic Monday, Kiss and more. What lied underneath this marvelous human being has been revealed only after he passed away.

That’s amazing. That’s honourable. That’s what one would expect from someone who was modest enough not to talk about the good things he did for other people.

If you run a freelance business today – for which you need tremendous creativity – chances are you have asked yourself questions about your online presence, what you should say, do, what social media you should use and why, how you should communicate your achievements to gain more credibility, how you should talk about things, what to leave out, whether you should join the crowd and more. At least, with all full honesty, I have personally been “massacring” my brain with thoughts of this kind until I realised it’s no use. One thing at a time. Appearance is not priority number one. Yes, I know it is wise to have a brand and to be visible and I understand the reasons but I opted to take things easy. I am all for finding ways to establish a viable business within a competitive world but I realise that image counts only if there is an essence and a heart behind it. And if there is no image and you have the heart, no need to be concerned that something is missing. I know of many freelancers with simple sites or blogs who are doing really well without a brand. I guess they are doing something right.

Prince was an icon. However, what we saw about him was an expression of who he was, his essence, his humanity and charisma. He became an icon because of his charisma.

No matter what one might say about his fierce beliefs on copyright, as a true creative, I would give him credit. The passion for your art somehow entitles you to want to protect it. The love symbol #2 (more of a business maneuver than an intentional branding tactic), clearly illustrates that art comes first. Symbols follow. Which translates to… a lesson to learn about our own work and contribution to the industry we are offering services to.

Let us ponder on quality, on becoming better and the rest will follow.


image credit: By Micahmedia at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

branding · creativity · inspiration · music · translators

For Olatz Rodriguez

I didn’t know Olatz in person but I came across her on Twitter. She was one of those translators I considered highly creative and with a passionate story to tell. People give you signs that if you interpret them wisely and with an open mind you just know there are things you share in common.

Olatz was tremendously creative. It was easy to see by her brand name: Transolatzion, a mix of her first name Olatz and Translation. I am stunned by how translators are creative and she was a glowing example. It couldn’t be more personal than that. If your brand is you, Olatz gave us a great example to be inspired from.

I assume that the beautiful handwritten fonts on her site were designed by her.

I was shocked when I read that she died. And I even sent a direct message to one of the girls who shared the devastating news to find out what happened to this girl of an angelic face and wise eyes.

I can’t even imagine the pain and shock her beloved ones might feel. She was only 23! I repeat: 23 years old.

As I wanted to somehow write about Olatz on the blog, I went over to her site and discovered that she had a YouTube Chanel. I would like to share with you a little video by Olatz. She is playing Nothing Else Matters.

Let us all learn from her departure. Let us embrace our future and go after our dreams. Olatz was teaching English language to children in China when she passed away. That was the story she somehow tried to tell the world. Your dreams are out there. Nothing else matters.


PS: For Spanish speakers: Marie Claire Cruz has dedicated a post for her colleague here. Also football player Aritz Elustondo dedicated a goal to Olatz.



art · branding · creativity · inspiration

When a translation project leads to chocolate and some very fine vintage Greek creativity

Yesterday I finally delivered the big website translation I was working on throughout June and July (my favourite project) and I’m now working on an advertising translation about chocolate. While looking up a term, I came across some fabulous vintage posters of ION one of the best Greek chocolate brands which translates to...definitely going to buy one soon! ION is one of those brands you will not find in Italy.

For more information about ION you can their website. This is the English version.

Enjoy the pics!

branding · translation

Why are freelance translators so good at branding

logotype eh
{translator/artist Ela Hoffman has translated her expertise into a stylish “Coco Chanel” style logo…}


Maybe you remember Some considerations about branding, freelance translation and the digital age. In that post, I was outlining how I see branding as well as why and when I think it’s important.

But today I am attempting to explore branding from a different angle.

For me, branding is a carefully and creatively planned out strategy, which tells the world who you are, what you do and how you do it.

Through branding, you demonstrate your talent in being able to entice the clients you are targeting. Which translates to an irresistible invitation to establish a connection with your brand.

Not surprisingly enough, freelance translators have entered the branding arena to call the shots for their businesses and show how the people behind the scenes can eventually – and actually – stand on the stage fearlessly and with poise and style.

One cannot just stand “speechless” when it comes to translation brands.

And recently I have been thinking about this:

Why is it that freelance translators are so good at it?

Because you can’t deny it. They are!

You can see it in the way they are able to blend design, words, concepts in order to get the message out there. It’s a natural quality they have which is intrinsically connected to the nature of their work.

What is this quality that makes them create such interesting and spot-on branding?

– It’s not (just) because of their creativity.

– It’s not (just) because they know more than one language which enables them to grasp subtleties and spot interesting metaphors and meanings in other languages and cultures.

– It’s not (just) because they seek and are exposed to new information which broadens their mind, making them more perceptive.


It’s for all the above reasons but you need to go deeper.

Or is it not as deep as one might expect?

It’s actually under our very nose.

Under the hands that type all day long.

– It’s because of the nature of translation itself.

That’s what gives them that edge in branding. In my humble opinion, of course.


Translators have a talent in transforming one thing into something else.

Translators re-write, re-create and re-produce.

And when it comes to branding, they do exactly that.

They translate their professional activity (translating, editing, interpreting etc), their visions and who they are into words and design. Using colour, design, word play, they create a presence so that you will remember them.

And if some of the branding experts will allow me to take this a bit further, I would say that the lessons learned from translation brands could offer substantial foundation for branding courses NOT ONLY AMONG translators but across a wider range of industries.

And of course, not all translators and other language professionals can and should brand their business. Branding is optional. It’s beautiful and tempting but it’s always optional.

Translation isn’t about being visible. It’s about being completely dedicated to your work.

If branding is your next step, chances are you are going to do a smashing job because it’s part of the #xl8 heart.

Thank you for reading,

a presto.


PS: Please check out InTouch Translations blog authored by a beautiful person and translator Emeline Jamoul who is interviewing some of the most interesting brands in the translation industry. The series is called “What’s in a brand”.

image credit / copyright: Ela Hoffman

branding · social media · technology · translation · twitter

Freelance translation, branding and our times



I have been thinking about translators who lived in the past. Those who translated books by hand, under the candlelight, or even later, those in more recent years, who used the typewriter. Before computers, Twitter, Facebook. They produced brilliant, life changing translations that shaped our world.

Translators in ancient times would find ways to communicate with kindred spirits, patrons, people who loved books, languages, knowledge, wisdom. Through word of mouth miracles are possible even today. Imagine when it was the only way.

Although I am no historian or a translation industry expert, I would like to share some thoughts on things translators who worked before the introduction of the internet and technology never worried about:

1. Competition

Education was a privilege of the few. Let alone knowing more than one language. So if you have few competitors why bother distributing leaflets to let them know of your services? Your clients knew where to find you. They knew you were educated. They knew you knew Hebrew, Greek, Latin. You also may have had long letters of recommendation with seals of Bishops. Who could beat that?

2. Deadlines

The concept of time (is money) hasn’t always been around, not until the Industrial Revolution. So, if I was given a book to translate and I knew that I had about a year to finish it, I wouldn’t worry that my client could find someone else to translate the same thing in 6 months. Why? Nobody had CAT tools and everybody accepted that 1 year is perfect timing. Or maybe it was 2 years or 5 years? Who can tell? Things took ages to occur. The world was slow. Before cars were invented it was even slower. Then we had airplanes. Then came the internet. And books were sold online. That was when we started to think deadline. You do it by the date required or you are dead (meat).

3. Translation software (+ competition + deadlines)

Translation technology is actually connected with the other two phenomena and cannot be understood separately. A translator who uses software is differentiated from someone who doesn’t. Clients will prefer someone who has CAT tools because they feel secure that no words are going to be missed, no spelling errors made, no repetitions and so forth. This really beats me. If you are a translator you must be able to do these without software. And I believe that a good translator today is perfectly able to do so. But deadlines (see above) and competition (see above) are give rise to new practices where technology is a key ingredient.

The branding trend in translation

There are many translators today who decide to establish themselves by creating a brand for their business. I understand them. The competition makes you want to be visible, reachable, different. And most importantly, memorable. The world is online. You cannot really afford to stay in the shadows. And there are so many translators who have already created a brand for themselves which is clearly inducing more and more translators to do the same.

Who would clients choose? Go through an agency? Which agency? Look up translators who are members of professional associations? Someone who’s recommended to them? Would they google it? Would they pick someone from the mere fact that he or she has created a brand without looking and cross-checking the information provided on their site?

I don’t know how branding affects the decision to choose a translator, but it appears that it helps a growing portion of translators who besides translation, transcreation, localization and interpreting, offer diversified services, such as services to translators, training, copywriting, consulting. It seems that branding helps you widen your horizons. But not everyone diversifies their services. Brands can help translators stand out from the crowd and create a memorable professional image.

That said, I personally would not choose branding as I am happy and comfortable with the idea of just being myself. The future, of course, is unknown and, nothing is set in stone. I just think I am an old school translator at heart, like a hang glider trying to fly against strong winds, the fog, the branding jets. Scary, I know.

I would like to think that the good clients still know how to find and appreciate these “hand gliding” translators.

I’d love to be that kind of translator (and writer…) who listens to the sound of the water, rain, wind, music, not notifications. I want to be someone who lives outside the peculiar and constraining 140 character boundaries of tweets. What about you?



image from