Lesson 29: Don’t even start a translation business without a logo

Lesson 29: Don’t even start a translation business without a logo

I love words, same as you. I was never particularly gifted when comes to drawing or painting, or designing. I’d rather write a short novel than express the same concept visually! I think we all have that in common. However, we just can’t do without logos anymore. It’s business time, even for translators. And logos make us be recognised, remembered, and hired.

There are some logos out there which I think are particularly great (among others!). Here are some examples for inspiration:

1) Rainy London Translations: It’s very modern, and I love this subtle reference to one of the most iconic tourist attractions in London. The name and graphics go together great.

2) Lingua Greca: Fresh, light, and modern. Suggests that people behind it are professional and creative.

3) Franco American Quill: I like the classy simplicity of this logo: very little colour, but tells you so much about the business!

4) Ignacio Hermo: Simple and clean typography, intense and energetic colour. This logo is a great example of minimalism in action!

5) SFM Traduction: a word tree? Genius! Clever and subtle logo with a great colour scheme.

6) Babeliane Traductions: Subtle, compelling, and wonderfully simple. I also like its delicate and feminine character, goes great with the way “Babeliane” sounds!

Why should you get a logo when you start a translation business?

To be recognised: it’s much easier for a human brain to digest and store images, as opposed to text. Potential clients will be more likely to associate your services with a graphic element, rather than your name.
To be more professional: with all this competition around, being more professional than others may win you a number of clients. Consistent branding is a must.
To be more motivated: when you get a logo, there’s no turning back. You have to act like a full-time business person!
To stand out: any logo is a plus, but a creative and catchy one will definitely make the difference.

Where to put your logo?

– Website
– Business cards
– Brochures
– CV/Profile
– Gadgets (cups, mugs, Oyster card holders, pens, mouse pads…)
– Invoices and quotes
– Letterhead
– Social media

So now you’re wondering how to get a logo? If you’re happy with nice typography (as I am at the moment), you can design something all by yourself. I found mine here – you can pick and choose, and it’s all free! All you need to do is to download a font and install it on your computer. Then just open MS Publisher (or PowerPoint), type your business name, add colours, and hit “Save as picture”. You can also get one done professionally, but it’s not a definite must. The professional solution saves you time, and is great if you want something more visual and creative.

I’m still thinking of adding a strawberry to my official logo, but my minimalist soul still resists that idea. What do you think? Should WantWords incorporate a vintage strawberry to its logo? What are your favourite logos used by freelance translators? Add links in comments!

32 Comments

  1. Laura Carolina Collada Ali , on Mar 27, 2012 at 07:49 Reply

    I remember designing my logo as something exiting. It meant I was starting something new on my own and it was really a challenge at the time!
    Nice post! Thank you!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 27, 2012 at 19:02 Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Laura! I know that feeling: when you get a logo, then there’s no way back – you’re in business!

  2. Gaëlle Gagné , on Mar 27, 2012 at 08:29 Reply

    Great post Marta! I also think that a logo goes a long way to create the professional image that sets you apart from your competition.

    To go further on your idea of do-it-yourself logos… I’ve recently published a article (in French) which provided a list of useful sites to help businesses design their own logo: http://www.trematranslations.com/2012/03/15/l-identit%C3%A9-visuelle-du-traducteur-en-4-questions-essentielles/ A lot of them are free and easy to use. It’s worth a try before buying professional services!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 27, 2012 at 19:01 Reply

      Thanks for your comment! I’ve had a look at your post and I think your ideas are great. To be honest, any kind of logo is better than no logo!

  3. Petya , on Mar 27, 2012 at 09:24 Reply

    Perhaps you can change the letter “o” in “words” with the strawberry. Yes, I think that you have to implement the strawberry – it’s your distinctive business mark that can identify your business and/or distinguish it from others. Some people remember words, others – images; therefore, some people will remember Wantwords, but others – the strawberry. Doing both in your logo – you’ll be covered.
    But if you want it as minimalist as possible, keep it that way – it’s perfect!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 27, 2012 at 18:58 Reply

      Thanks, that’s my point exactly – I feel that I need an image (to put it on my gadgets and marketing materials as well!). But on the other hand, I am a minimalist. I’ll give it some more time.

  4. Sara Freitas - SFM Traduction , on Mar 27, 2012 at 11:41 Reply

    Thanks for featuring SFM Traduction’s logo, I was delighted to see it here! Let me take this opportunity to shamelessly plug our graphic designer Bruno Fouquet, the creative talent behind the logo 🙂

    We provided him with a full brief on our target industries, target customer profiles, our services and values, and our key messages. He met with us to get to know the team personally. He then translated what we were trying to express into a visual that says what we want it to (the reassuring “groundedness” of a tree rooted in the earth, the creativity of the “letter leaves”, all with a feminine, brushstroke touch as we are an all-women team).

    Just as we recommend to our customers to avoid using machine translation, we felt it was important to avoid going through a low-cost “logo farm,” instead opting for pricier personalized service for this very important element that serves as the foundation for the rest of our company’s visual identity. We hope that this logo will serve us for quite a few years to come!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 27, 2012 at 18:57 Reply

      Dear Sara,

      Thank you very much for your comment. Bruno did a great job, and from what you’ve shared, he seems to be a dedicated and passionate professional!

      Your business definitely gained a lot through having a professional to work on your visual identity, and I bet you’re really successful in communicating quality to your customers.

  5. Carolyn Y. , on Mar 27, 2012 at 12:52 Reply

    It took me a while to figure out what I wanted for my logo. In the end, I went a similar route as you: simple font, with a little extra curlicue added. I’m lucky I have experience with InDesign and Illustrator (well, my husband helped). Like Laura, it was very exciting for me to finally have a logo! I was a REAL business!

    I would caution against adding the strawberry to your logo… honestly, I can’t quite figure out the conceptual connection. With my logo, the clean/smooth lines reflect the “untangled” in “untangled translations.” How does a strawberry fit into “want words”? Are you trying to connect food-appetite to word-cravings? Maybe having a bite taken out of the strawberry would better push that connection. And work in some marketing copy that expresses passion/craving words, rather than the straightforward/no-nonsense style you have now.

    That said, I know it’s not easy. I first put up my site about a year ago, and I revisit the design and copy often. I’m actually undergoing a huge rehaul right now! (Lucky I have the HTML skills…). So, I know it’s difficult. And I wish you all the best!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 27, 2012 at 18:54 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Carolyn! I agree that a bit of experience in design helps a lot.

      Also, I think that your comments regarding a strawberry are really valid – that’s why I’m rather undecided about this idea. I like my minimalist style and I don’t feel like I need anything more than what I already have. But on the other hand, it may not be as memorable as I would like it to be.

      Strawberry has no connection at all. A bit like with Apple. But… do I really need it?

      • Carolyn Y. , on Mar 27, 2012 at 19:14 Reply

        I do like Peyta’s idea below… incorporating a small version of the strawberry into the words would work very well… Hidden behind the first W, popping out of the end S… Try some designs out, print them, sit them on your desk, and eventually you’ll learn to love one of them 🙂 Like picking paint colors for a kitchen.

        • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 30, 2012 at 19:40 Reply

          I think I’ll do that: get a couple of different designs and ask you for opinions!

  6. Catherine Christaki (@LinguaGreca) , on Mar 27, 2012 at 17:27 Reply

    Thank you so much for the mention Marta, it’s truly an honor 🙂 We had great help with our logo. We just mentioned the colors we liked and said we wanted something fresh, modern and creative. The logo designer then sent us our existing logo, we loved it from the get go, we were very lucky. It’s so important to cooperate with amazing and creative people for such things…

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 27, 2012 at 18:50 Reply

      It’s great to hear that you got that lucky! It’s very fresh and creative, indeed.

  7. Marina Sandoval , on Mar 27, 2012 at 18:20 Reply

    Hi Marta,

    I think you should put a strawberry to your logo.
    I love strawberries 🙂

    Best,
    Marina Sandoval

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 27, 2012 at 18:49 Reply

      Mmm… I can’t wait to get fresh ones this year! I’m almost convinced now, thanks Marina.

  8. Anso , on Mar 27, 2012 at 19:23 Reply

    A friend of mine designed our logo and I must say, I like it lot! I put it everywhere, on my website, business card, FB pages, etc…
    I like it because it’s mine and I feel lucky to have it!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 30, 2012 at 19:39 Reply

      I think you’re spot on, Anso! It’s the feeling of pride that your logo is YOURS and it is the image that can be associated with you immediately.

  9. Simone Linke , on Mar 27, 2012 at 20:30 Reply

    Waah, shame on me. I actually have a logo and use it consistently in my correspondence but just realized that it’s not on my CV and a few other documents. Whoopsee! Thanks for the reminder!

    Oh, and since I like strawberries, I’m biased, but I wouldn’t mind it in your logo. 🙂

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 30, 2012 at 19:38 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Simone! I’m glad that you found my post useful. I know, we tend to forget to put our logos on CVs, but I think it’s quite important!

  10. Luciana E. Lovatto , on Mar 27, 2012 at 22:14 Reply

    Hi, Marta!
    Great blog post and thank you for reminding us about the importance of having a logo :=)
    Just as an idea for those that are designing their logos, my logo, for example, is a fusion of Fernando’s specializations (wind energy and biodiversity) and mine (naturopathic medicine). You can have a look at it at: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=221171057913139&set=a.197728186924093.47341.197727963590782&type=3&theater

    Please add the strawberry to your logo, I really love it.
    Regards,
    Luciana E. Lovatto

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 30, 2012 at 19:41 Reply

      Thanks, Luciana! I do love your logo, because it’s so natural, green, and healthy. Definitely only the best associations.

      I will think of getting a couple of strawberry logos, thanks!

  11. Aleksandra (@_AleksM) , on Mar 30, 2012 at 07:05 Reply

    Great post, Marta! I remember being excited when I was waiting for Linguist Blog’s logo to be finished. And after reading your post I shamefully admitted to myself that I completely forgot to put it in my CV. I have to change that immediately!

    I love the idea of incorporating a strawberry into your logo. Like someone mentioned earlier, I think it can be a good idea if you change letter O with a strawberry. My designer merged letter L with a shape of a desk lamp and After I saw it I felt I could really connect to it. I really think that a strawberry would give additional liveliness to your logo and make sure that your clients remember it.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Mar 30, 2012 at 19:44 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Alexandra! Having thought about that, I think I’ll add your logo to this post. It’s really good.

      I’m still having second thoughts about this whole strawberry issue. I am pretty serious and even strict when comes to business (well, that’s the image). I’m minimalistic in everything I do, and I want to sell my clean and quiet professionalism. How can I fit strawberry there? It goes nice with the Business School, and I like it for my blog. But to put it on my business cards?

  12. Natalya , on Jun 3, 2012 at 01:07 Reply

    Hi Marta,

    I know I’m rather late in posting this, but if you are considering using the strawberry, I’d like to see the berry sliced vertically, with the wider base at the bottom, rather like the shape of the “O” in Word.

    Another interesting idea would be to have an outline of a cupped hand, with your logo stacked in the hand (Want above Words). It would give the impression that you are asking for “words” as well as giving them. Much the way a translator works!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Jan 4, 2015 at 23:22 Reply

      Thank you for your suggestions, very helpful at the time 🙂

  13. Álvaro Dávila , on Sep 19, 2012 at 02:48 Reply

    This is a great post! I’ve learned something new to add to my translation business plan. Thank you Marta.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Sep 24, 2012 at 12:41 Reply

      You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. Good luck and get in touch if you have any questions.

  14. Lukasz Gos , on Mar 11, 2013 at 14:03 Reply

    That’s generally true, though I’m one of those people who go logoless. But my branding is really complicated and consists of the absence of it, mostly, enhanced by a bunch of finesse that nobody understands, which makes me unique and it kinda works. For the record, you can use text, just pick the right font, place it well, colour it nicely, whatever works for you. Law firms do it this way all the time. Last time I saw a law firm logo competition (yup), only one of the logos was not doable in HTML & CSS (basically, text and advanced styling), although even in that case you could probably still find a font to do it if you tried really hard.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on May 1, 2013 at 15:23 Reply

      Exactly! I agree totally: sometimes just using text with the right font (plenty of them available for free online) is all that you need to do.

  15. Daniela , on Mar 16, 2013 at 20:08 Reply

    “When you get a logo, then there’s no way back – you’re in business!”… I like that! I’m right in that phase now, trying to begin my business as a 100% freelance (I’m done with 3 years of agencies). But note to self: I must get a logo first. I literally devoured this post as I love designing, and lots of ideas crossed my mind while reading it. Now, I got to make them come true.
    As for the strawberry, I see it’s been a while you posted this and you didn’t add it yet. In my opinion, it certainly would give a fresh air to your page, but if you’re not comfy with it, I guess it’d be better not to change anything.

    Thanks for another enlightening post!

    Daniela

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Jan 4, 2015 at 23:23 Reply

      I ended up not adding the strawberry after all, but I think the discussion was quite enlightening anyway 🙂

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