What’s in a Brand? Sara Colombo from Sara Colombo Translations

Today’s guest is none other than my dear Sara Colombo (aka partner in crime)! Sara is an English, French and Spanish into Italian translator and interpreter, but she also speaks Hebrew and German (how cool is that?). A real passionate at what she does, Sara specializes in Marketing, Business, IT and Health. She runs a very active blog on which she speaks about balance, sports and branding, among many other topics. Oh, and she also wrote a book! When not translating, Sara can be found on Twitter,Facebook or at the gym! Let’s hear what she has to say about branding…

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Hi Sara! I’m really glad to have you on this series because you know a great deal about branding and you have been building your brand for a few years now. Could you tell us why you decided to implement a branding strategy in your business, and most of all why you went for personal branding?

Hi Emeline! Thank your for inviting me, it’s a pleasure!

Branding plays an important role in the life of a company or freelancing business, but I would not say I had a ‘strategy’ and never really chose to switch from no-branding point to a totally branded approach.

In the beginning I didn’t have a logo or a website, but I used to blog and loved to add pink details to my posts. My first business cards although not personal, were pink, as well.

And I was definitely less positive and happy about my job (aka: volunteer, newbie, bills to pay, part-time second job to help me, broken heart…yay!), but that was always me…so when I created the website and updated the logo (and gadgets, etc.) I simply decided to revamp my personality to a more professional level and (finally!) start to put my ideas into practice.

Indeed, I have always liked marketing, read about it, studied it and learned from experienced entrepreneurs. And that reflects in my career: from a simple combination of promotional tools and actions to a series of more articulated choices, as in a natural development.

I chose personal branding to grow as a professional, attract more clients and play a bit with original ideas, from the beginning.

Did you choose to go with the name Sara Colombo Translations to be consistent with your views on personal branding or was it there before you started paying attention to branding?

Well, my name has always been there, at least since I was born…you know…! 😉

But, my business was created only in 2012, after about 5-6 years of part-time and full-time freelancing. And at that time I wanted to use my name because I didn’t like the idea of presenting myself like a company only to reveal people there was just one person behind that, and, what’s more, I had never really thought about hiring someone or creating a bigger business. Not until recent times, though.

However, using your own name, as a brand, is not something anyone can do, especially if they have a very complicated, odd, unpronounceable name. As there must be a way of putting together pronunciation, meaning and visual representation. Or at least to make it easy for people who don’t know you.

So I chose to use my name because (a) I was the only freelancer and (b) it left enough creative space to play with the meaning.

I know you explain what your logo means in your book , but for those who haven’t read it… What does it represent? Does the hot pink color carry a particular meaning?

‘Colombo’ means ‘dove’, which is what my logo represents, a dove. One of the things I love most about that logo is that it is really personal, representing my surname, but the character’s features also fit my nature: cheerful, tiny…sexy. Ah, what were you expecting me to say? 😉

The designer did a very good job. By the way, did you know that the lettering was also unique? It was created specifically to match the logo.

Regarding the color, I brainstormed a bit, took a look around me and then, since I noticed that many of my favorite fitness gadgets were in purple and pink, I decided to choose something I loved and used. A color able to represent my personality and that could catch people’s attention or tell them something more about me, instantly.

Hot pink has always been one of my favorite colors because it’s creative but also energetic and feminine. And when used on items, but also on the web, it pops up immediately to quickly catch your attention.

Plus, it is often used in the fitness/health and marketing sectors, which are my two main passions and fields of specialization (think about Women’s Health or Victoria’s Secret ‘PINK’ line, but also the infinite variety of hot pink fashion gadgets, gym props, etc.).

I know that, when it comes to create your logo, some branding ‘gurus’ will tell you to base your decisions on the target market, but I believe in the opposite: personal branding is ‘personal’, it’s about you, your personality, and the positive (or original) contribution you bring to clients and, in general, your job. Not the other way around.

Think about brands like Nike, do you think its name, logo and color are directly connected one to the other or to the sport and fitness sectors? No. But people now do associate the three because the company was able to create and justify the values behind the choice.

Another example? Apple. And don’t tell me your laptop smells of fruit.

That said, I am not suggesting you to grab the phone and call a designer to create something monumental, rather I believe that creating a brand is a personal process that should take into account your personality AND your target market. Not only the second.

Strike the right balance and choose something that truly represents who you are, or your tastes, but that is also able to speak your target language and meet its needs. If your logo, brand name, or color don’t fit your personality, than it will be a total waste of time and money.

We all know that branding is more than a name and a logo. If you had to choose three words to represent your brand, which ones would they be?

Well, that’s a hard one. Really!

Let’s see… creative, energetic and friendly (but also positive and feminine and…OMG you said 3!!).

Finally, how do you manage to convey these aspects to your customers?

My customers tell me that they like the positive and friendly touch that my pink cards and gadgets give them: they put them on the desk, use the pencils and feel energized.

Which is also what I try to do as a translator: my services go behind the mere linguistic transfer, as I am available for transcreation, cultural or marketing consultancies, and, in general, always ready to help them.

I want to befriend them. Literally. And, as strange as it might sound, I think a friendly and positive attitude (along with passion and skills) are the best alleys a freelancer can count on to attract the right clients and establish long-lasting business rapports.

And they get a free fitness class, of course!

Thanks ever so much for being a part of this series, Sara!

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