How important is it to have a logo as a translator?
Thread poster: Sarah McDowell

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:27
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Jan 9, 2013

I have heard that it is important to have a logo as a translator but do you think it is very important or more of a luxury that you don't need to have right away.

I see a lot of translators without logos and some with so I would like some opinions on this matter. Do you design your own logos or do you have them professionally done?

Also, for all those translators with beautiful website and logos, did you start from the beginning with these things or is this something you gradually built up after working in the industry for a period of time? It seems difficult to devote so much of our resources to building websites and designing a logo when there are other things that we need to acquire such as software, glossaries, equipment etc.

I would appreciate other translators' thoughts on this please.

Thanks,
Sarah


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OlivierParrot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:27
Member (2012)
Japanese to French
+ ...
Reminds me Jan 10, 2013

Back when I was in my last year of university, we had a 'seminar' with potential employers who put us through fake job interviews for training, and analyzed our CVs, this-is-excellent-this-is-terrible-you-should-definitely-change-this type of stuff.
I found it funny that they could be easily divided in two groups...
Some said that the 'hobbies/private information' section was actually the first thing they looked for on a CV, and would go as far as put aside the CVs that didn't have such a section, and give priority to the others.
The others said it was absolutely ridiculous to include a 'hobbies/private information' section, and would go as far as put aside the CVs that had such a section, and give priority to the others.

Of course it's a completely different topic... But maybe we would get the same kind of conflicting answers from clients about logos, no?


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Trust the professionals Jan 10, 2013

The same way you expect your customers to entrust their translation decisions to you because you are the professional, you should entrust your design needs to professional designers.

Find a professional designer, maybe someone who also makes websites, and explain to this person who you are, what you intend to achieve with the design and the website, the kind of markets and people you are targeting, what you like and/or dislike in designs, etc. And then let this person propose several drafts about the logo as a starting point, express your choices for a refinement of the design, and then perhaps work on the website (which should generally follow the same global concepts as the logo).

I would say that yes, a logo of your activity and a website are important, although there are two main risks: A) the risk of obscuring your person under this image, something you certainly do not want to do since you are the one your customers want to see around, and B) the risk of giving the misleading impression that you are a false big company, because of the use of those horrible stock pictures of smiling people in suits around a meeting table; make sure the web designer never uses that kind of stuff!

The rule of thumb for these things is: use a design, logo, or website you feel completely identified with and you like aesthetically.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:27
Danish to English
+ ...
It's just a little extra touch Jan 10, 2013

When I set up my company in May 2011, I immediately started working on a 'presentable' letterhead as the first thing. My trouble was that I had no sense of graphics whatsoever and that I only really felt competent in working with the Microsoft Office package, which does not offer a huge amount of creative facilities. So my letterhead looked like exactly what it was, an amateur's job. I was fortunate to have a friend whose husband is a web designer, and she said, "You must have a website", and I thought, "yeah, I probably should, but I haven't got the skills nor the patience to learn how to do this by using free-ware, so..." My friend's hubby kindly offered to design a website for me, which was extremely generous, and I am aware that not everybody will be that lucky. I didn't ask him to design a logo for me, but he did so as a natural part of the web design, and I thought it sort of tied everything together.

When I went full-time as an independent translator and needed proper letterhead, business cards, labels and a little pamphlet to send out to potential clients, I asked a local graphic designer (whom I knew via one of my new clients) to design the 'package' for me with reference to the website so that it would all tie in together. In doing so, she retouched the logo and the new version was added to the website as well as to my entire stationary line. Both for the website and for the presentation pamphlet, I was asked to select photos and I was almost at my wits' end, as again, I have no graphic sense at all. The help from professionals was absolutely crucial for me.

Now, the question you are asking is how important it is to have a logo, and I must be honest and say that I have no clue. I would hope that I would be judged on the quality of my work rather than on the style of my logo, but there is this old saying that 'you only get one chance to make a first impression', so if a little effort (and money, I know) will make you look professional the first time you make contact with a potential client, you have already eliminated one hurdle as an independent translator. So, I think it is not so much the logo as the entire image you present that matters.

Having said all that, I am not aware of my website actually generating any work, but I consistently refer to it and use it as a reference when I introduce myself - a sort of virtual business card. Personally, I only very rarely even consider working with outsourcers or end clients who do not present themselves well via a professional looking website, so I have plenty of reason to believe that MY potential clients would operate in the same way.


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Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
I wouldn't bother with a logo Jan 10, 2013

Unless you're setting up a company, logo doesn't matter. People are going to remember your face, not the logo. Companies do not have faces, so they need logos And for everything design wise: unless you're a designer yourself, hire a professional! Spend money on a website, business card and letterhead designs. I chose to spend a bit more on great looking & feeling business cards http://us.moo.com/products/luxe/business-cards.html Also, you could use the money not spent on a logo for web page SEO or for membership fees on different translation sites. Or you could get a professional to design a unique CV template for you etc. Basically if you're a freelancer, everything else is money much better spent, than a pointless emblem.

[Edited at 2013-01-10 09:52 GMT]


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Evelyn Hunck-Irving
Netherlands
Local time: 17:27
Dutch to English
+ ...
Value of logo Jan 10, 2013

Up to you.

I have been translating unofficially (mostly pro Deo) for years, but recently started up my own free-lance business. I opted for a logo because a couple of my clients offered to add a link to my business with my logo on their websites . I was also not intending to have a website of my own, but was introduced to a professional webmaker by my daughter, and decided to have one after all. Not cheap, but worth the money. The website came with a logo (with a choice of two) made by a graphic designer. I don't know how this will work for my business, but I am professional and want my website and logo to be professional too.

I think it's just a question of what you want. You can always add these things later if you do decide to use them.

Hoping this helps!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Define "important" Jan 10, 2013

I like logos and avatars, so have adopted a couple that I use, because it amuses me. I even had a rubber stamp made up with my name, tax ID and email on it because some clients in Spain (or their accounting departments) used to ask for a "company seal" on invoices. However, I see all that as mere frippery and about as useful and important as a clown's red nose. I don't see them as necessary for a freelancer, and tend to agree with Lennart's comment.

What I am fed up with is people telling me what is "important" for a translator and banging on about the "business" side of things, as if that were the be-all and end-all. I think you'll find they're usually trying to sell you something, whether it's a method, approach, idea or product.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
One person's meat Jan 10, 2013

Gitte Hovedskov Hansen wrote:

...So my letterhead looked like exactly what it was, an amateur's job. ...


One of the first things that my friends/colleagues and I find offputting about agencies, for example, is when they have a slick, ultra-professional looking logo or website, because they usually turn out to be all about "looking the part" and have little or no substance behind all the glitz. Even physical state-of-the art offices and stunning secretaries can be a turn-off. Just give us a friendly, amateurish-looking cobbled-together Heath Robinson logo and we're yours for the asking!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Logos are for B2C companies Jan 10, 2013

Sarah McDowell wrote:
I have heard that it is important to have a logo as a translator but do you think it is very important or more of a luxury that you don't need to have right away.


I think that logos are for business-to-consumer companies. A logo is only valuable if it is seen more than once. The logo is tied to your identity -- it helps remind the user that you are you. If the user sees the logo only once, then it is not a logo but a pretty picture that has nothing to do with you.

If your client is an agency or a business, then your logo will be seen ONCE by the secretary or personal assistant when she opens your letter and files it, ONCE by the project manager when he captures your information in her system (and no, she will not add your logo to her mail program's address book, even if your logo is in your e-mail somewhere), and ONCE by the accountant when he pays your invoice.

If your client is a private person, he sees your logo several times because he performs all of these actions himself, and he sees your logo every time he deals with you, again and again.

But the agency's project manager never sees your logo again even if she uses you all the time, because your contact information is captured into her computer without your logo. She may see your logo in your e-mail signature, but only for a fraction of a second, because she never scrolls down that far unless she happens to press the down arrow button once too many by mistake.

As for your web site, unless your logo is regularly seen elsewhere, the web site visitor will not know that your logo is not just some random piece of clipart that you had pulled off the internet somewhere.

If you need something for your business card or stationary, then by all means get a nice-looking logo, if you want... though personally I would simply use a printable picture of myself. After all, we are freelance translators, and our main selling point is often that we are personal.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:27
Danish to English
+ ...
Depends on how you view yourself Jan 10, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:
If you need something for your business card or stationary, then by all means get a nice-looking logo, if you want... though personally I would simply use a printable picture of myself. After all, we are freelance translators, and our main selling point is often that we are personal.


This is very interesting, because it just goes to show that we see ourselves in different ways and that we each have to decide how we want to be perceived. Personally, I always try to avoid referring to myself as a 'freelancer', as a freelancer (as far as I can vaguely remember a definition of the word) is someone who works for someone else. I don't. I work for myself. I am an independent translator, a business entity, a supplier who sells a product to my clients, whether they are agencies or end clients.

I want to appear as professional as I can, and I am still just learning the ropes. But yes, my logo will appear in every email I send; every printed letter I send out will be written on my pre-printed letterhead, and every email attachment I send will be written in my letterhead template and converted into a PDF file so that the recipient doesn't get to see the ugly formatting marks. It is simply easier on the eye that way.

And yes, it is true that one of our great selling points is that we are personal and individual, but that is no excuse to be careless about how we present ourselves. In my years as an in-house translator at a Danish translation agency, I saw umpteen introductory letters and CVs from hopeful translators who wanted to sign up with us. I must say that the vast majority of them would have benefited from just the very simplest touch, such as turning a Word file into a PDF file so that the recipient wouldn't be disturbed by dotted table outlines, paragraph marks etc.

And I'm sorry to say this, but any use of avatars, cute pictures of children, cuddly clip-art dogs or cats or pictures of flowers or spaceships or whatever people thought would be representative of their 'personal' character would have been met with our immediate suspicion, and the translator would have been tripping himself/herself up even before we started reading their letter. However, needless to say, a careless letter or CV with linguistic errors or typos would get the thumbs down much faster.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:27
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
A neat, sensible logo or none at all Jan 10, 2013

I get on fine with just my face and my general style of e-mails... and the translations I deliver, of course.

I don't know myself what the secret of the e-mails is, but I try to send friendly feedback whenever relevant, and at least one PM has told me the agency attitude was 'oh, not her again!' - with a smile. They take it nicely and answer in the same style. I practically never send a 'naked' mail with 'please find file attached, best wishes'. But I don't reveal a lot of irrelevant personal details either.

If you have a neat logo that says something about your business - then fine. From Gitte's you can see at a glance what languages she works with.

But avoid the fluttering flags and limit zooming images. NO MOVEMENT at all, if I am choosing. Some logos and websites say more about the 'professionals' who designed them than about the person or business they are supposed to represent.

A good picture can say more than a thousand words, but only if you give people time to see it properly before it fades away.
Appropriate images do relieve the acres of text and provide landmarks for the eye - very important on screen.

As I have observed before, a good logo stands out in the sea of faces. Names are not always easy to remember without some visual prompt.

Look at the way others do it in different subject areas - You want to look sober and responsible for Law, but probably show you are creative for marketing, so design your portrait and/or logo to fit in with the clients you are hoping to work for (or with).

The important thing in freelancing is what you deliver. Once you have 'caught' the client, you want them to remember you as the person who gave them what they wanted, and come again.

Don't have a logo at any price. But if you find one that you can identify with, go for it.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:27
German to English
+ ...
I have one Jan 10, 2013

Basically, I have incorporated, so I use my company name, not my name, on my work. My clients know that I am behind the company. Mainly, I prefer to use the logo because I look quite young for my age (OK, very young - my oldest child is now officially a teenager, but I still get carded, meaning people think I'm 20!), and it allows my work to stand on its own without (probably false) assumptions about my level of experience.

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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:27
Member (2009)
French to English
Maybe, but I still do not have one Jan 10, 2013

I have slowly started to develop a cohesive theme for my business, first with my business cards and then I had a professional redo my website (www.jennmercer.com) to develop the theme further. I suppose a logo would be the next natural step, but for now I am happy enough with how everything fits together that I do not want to distract from the overall theme.

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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
If you do decide to use one... Jan 10, 2013

They have some really nice ones here - they're free if printed on the company's products, or you pay a very small fee to use them yourself.

http://www.vistaprint.com/logo-design/add-text.aspx


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