Today’s guest is Valeria Aliperta. Valeria is the owner of Rainy London Translations, a business through which she offers English, Spanish and French into Italian translation and interpreting services. She is also known for her interest in branding which led her to give talks about that very topic, offer branding consultancy to freelancers and run her own series about branding. How convenient for this series, right? Valeria kindly accepted to join my series and I could not be more thrilled. Let’s hear it from her!
Hello Valeria! I’m very glad to have you on this series because if one translator speaks the most about branding, it’s you! Can you tell us first why you’re so interested in it? How did you discover it and what made you decide that you had to implement it for your business?
Thanks Emeline! I’m blushing
I think it’s just a matter of taste. I’ve always liked arts (I used to draw when I was a kid, along with languages it was the subject I was best at in school) and almost went onto a Fine Arts career. But at the time my parents thought I’d be better off with Humanities and there you go. Still, I’ve retained a sense of style and passion for beautiful lines and design and I guess a 2.0 application of that is illustration and web design, that lead to branding (plus my other half is to blame as he’s in the business!)
So the “discovery” was really something quite natural: being surrounded by design, with plenty of books in the flat and someone at your side asking “do you like this logo” well: all this influenced me. But I needed an identity for my business and that I knew well before all this: I believe standing out is paramount for a freelancer to be considered and noticed. Initially, I had basic business cards done with my name and a schematised V as a tentative logo. Right after, I realised I was not going to be noticed with my surname/first name alone and I started putting my back into creating a brand. And the rest, you probably know
Let’s talk about your brand – it’s very bold, thanks to a strong name and bright colours, as well as consistency. How did the Rainy London brand saw the light of day?
As many may know, finding a name is a tricky procedure. In my talks I try to explain how it’s a process in steps: 1. Finding your voice (i.e. what’s your core business, what you offer, where you want to be identified) 2. Creating a name 3. Finding a logo 4. Choosing a colour palette. The hardest one is creating a name.
How did you come up with the name? Were there other names you thought about in the brainstorming process?
It took me 3 days of painstakingly long hours of thinking to land the current name. I brainstormed with anyone I know. And I got stuck quite often on the way – the anecdote I always tell is about my beloved father, who rang me all excited for the name he’d conceived. You may gather that in my mind “Gladiator translations” was definitely a no-no And just when I thought I’d never find “THE ONE” and all was lost, it dawned on me. Rainy is a feature of London, London was the place I wanted to be and the main symbol of the country of my source language (and its capital) hence, it was the perfect fit. I then liaised with a designer – guess who! – and we started crafting a modern identity that would have a link to the city without being a too much of a clichéd concept.
In marketing, red is known for being used for the food industry. Why did you decide it would be YOUR colour?
Red is vibrant, stimulating. But I’d lie if I told you I’d consciously chose it for its psychological message. I am a fan of black and dark colours but I could not obviously use it on screen (at least, not that much without it looking like a Goth magazine page). Red: I have always liked it, but we opted for a muted, brick hue (that eventually evolved into a more tangerine red when I created the alternative design of HugMe). I still wanted to evoke energy and positive vibes, maintaining a reliable, more corporate approach, hence the navy blue. And if you think of it, combined with white, the shades remind of the Union Jack colours.
What about your Hug Me character? What’s the genesis of it?
I have always liked details and personalisation – blame me for being an only child! Since college I would decorate my diary with drawings and stickers and my name would be everywhere, in different fonts. So I think it’s about being different. Christmas was approaching back in 2009 and for the first time I had to decide whether to send distinctive, “look-at-me” cards to clients or just go for a more anonymous e-card. You know the answer: Fabio is passionate about “kawaai” design and vinyl toys culture (like this) so the connection with the illustration world of characters was easily done. I wanted something funny but festive and Fab did the rest. The further evolution of HugMe postures and designs are my ideas, that Fab then develops in vectors. The cards always are in small batches and normally I don’t send more than 100.
You’re a self-confessed coffee lover. How did your undying taste for coffee lead you to make your Rainy cups available for sale?
Oh, I do love (and know) my espresso. I’ve been drinking 3-4 cups a day since I was in school and I could never face a day without it. I love mugs but as an espresso drinker, I always found them too big for me. I never fill them up! So why not having my own? Initially, they were supposed to be for special clients. But as soon as people saw them, they got very popular and I wanted everyone to be able to have them. Being real china, though, I cannot give too many away for free, so I decided to sell them. I’m not making any profit on them, mind you! I’m happy to just cover the face value. On other notes, gadgets are a very good way to engage people and spread the word about your business so why not.
P.S.: Now you can also drink tea or cappuccino in a #rainycup!)
You’re a regular speaker about branding. If you had just one piece of advice for new entrepreneurs (not just translators), what would it be?
Get yourself a business plan. Once you know where you’re going and when you want to get there, think of an identity. And invest in a design/concept (just as you should in a good functional website): timeless branding is for life and you will harvest from it every day since inception.
If you had three words to describe your brand, what would those be?
I could give you more than 3 (along with the obvious reliable!), but let’s go for my Vs:
Visible – essential to be recognised and remembered
Versatile – even in your services and approach to business, you need specialisation as much as diversification. Have a problem-solver mind-set.
Vibrant – energy is positive, customers do not engage with sadness and negativity and don’t like trading with people who are not enthusiastic.
Because we all know that branding is more than a logo, how do you convey these three aspects to your customers?
In the way I write to them, in my copy, in the type of customer care I offer and the sense of “I can count on you for anything” that I try to convey to each and every one of them. I can’t quite remember who said this, but people buy from people (and they’d rather do that from people they LIKE), so the social element is crucial in branding and in sales.
Thanks very much for taking part in this interview, Val!