What’s in a Brand? Marta Stelmaszak from Wantwords

Do I really need to introduce today’s guest? Marta Stelmaszak is the founder of Wantwords, a small business offering Polish English translation and interpretation services for the Legal, Marketing and Business fields. She is one of today’s most successful translators, blogger, speaker and is going to publish her first book in September. She also runs a Business School for Translators where she shares her insights about the business world with her students. I am glad to have her today as her brand is very unique and instantly recognizable!

Hello Marta! It is a pleasure to have you on this series. You have been translating for almost 8 years now. Was branding something that you have always been aware of? If not, how did you learn about it and why did you decide it was something you wanted to implement for your business?

My business hasn’t always been the way it is now. When I first started, I fell victim to low-payers and translator exploitation, but I didn’t know any different back then. I put it down to my young age, naiveté, and lack of experience. Luckily enough, at some point, about 5-4 years ago I began to realise that there must be a different way to make it as a translator. I became very determined to change my own fate and I invested plenty of time, energy and savings into acquiring solid business skills. I was privileged enough to learn from the most successful freelancers and small business owners and this has really changed my perspective. I also took a more formal route through education in business and marketing.

I discovered that I, too, could be proud of who I am and what I do and that my services are valuable, irreplaceable and indeed useful. This is when the essence of my brand was born. Initially, I wasn’t aware of branding as a discipline, I just knew that there was a certain set of values I wanted to communicate with my services and I had a vision, grounded in thorough market research, of how it should be done.

But, similarly to many of our colleagues, I won’t rest until I get to the bottom of it. Using my resources from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, I started learning all that I could about branding as a discipline and field of research. I started connecting the dots and putting the whole picture together. This is how I discovered that apart from my brand essence, core values and beliefs, I needed to have a brand strategy, I needed brand assets and branding guidelines. And you know what the best thing is? A lot of this knowledge is available out there, online, for free.

I can’t really say that I decided to implement branding for my business. It was more of a natural development from having a strong mission statement and purpose into communicating it cleverly and consistently.

Branding is a tool designed to make customers trust you and your skills. Have you noticed a difference in terms of how customers respond to you and see you since you have launched your brand? How so?

For me, I noticed the biggest change inside me, and I think that’s where it all stems from. When I put my act together, I started feeling much more serious about the whole business and much more responsible for it. I’m deeply convinced it’s a push-and-pull mechanism. You put life and values into your brand, but having a brand also makes you work harder.

I also became much more confident, having consistent, beautiful branding that communicated what I really wanted to say. In my opinion, this is why clients started perceiving me differently. I became much more of an expert to them, maybe even borderline consultant. They certainly doubt me much less!

Having a solid brand also justified charging more in my own eyes, so though it’s not a direct result of investing in branding, it’s definitely something I can attribute to it.

Branding has certainly upped my game.

Want Words is a business name that is very catchy and easy to remember (maybe because it’s an alliteration?). Could you tell us why you decided to go with this name to represent your business? Was there a lot of brainstorming involved?

You know, there’s actually a little story related to my business name. Initially I wanted to call my business Wild Words and I was really convinced it was a great name. I realised that there actually was a copywriter based in the UK who registered the domain but hasn’t used it since, so I got in touch with her to negotiate buying it.

Initially she seemed interested in selling it for a decent price, but when she gathered that I was really keen on it, she asked for way more money than I considered a reasonable amount. I decided to go back to the drawing board and think of a different name that would, indeed, contain alliteration or just sound nice, and also be easy to spell in Polish.

Of course now, knowing all that I know about market research, customer segmentation and marketing in general, I can only be grateful to this copywriter (who has never used the domain anyway) for sticking to it. Can you imagine me selling legal translation services trading under Wild Words? I can’t.

Your brand identity is very unique, consistent and thus instantly recognizable. What’s the genesis behind that brownish-deep red color and the retro images you use on your blog posts?

I think it draws back to my personality. I’m usually quite a serious person, at times even strict, but every now and then I have my cheeky moments. My brand is quite a lot about that (I’d like to think): a mixture of stoic professionalism and a hint of retro nostalgia. I like vintage as a style, and it’s quite clear from my glasses and the collection of vintage-inspired clothes that I’m building up.

But of course there’s a deeper meaning to that. Brown symbolises seriousness, down-to-earth approach, stability and quality. It’s precisely what I want to communicate, with a feminine touch. The same with retro images that I use – they’re there to bring back the good ol’ days when the grass was greener, the sun was brighter and people were nicer (joking here, of course, but you get the idea).

If you had to describe your brand in three words, which ones would you choose?

I’d say it’s all about reliability, simplicity and peace of mind you can feel when you entrust your texts to a professional.

Finally, if you had one piece of advice to give to our readers, what would it be?

In my opinion, it’s very important to infuse your brand with your personality and what you stand for. As freelancers, what we’re offering that makes us different from others is precisely that. Being ourselves, our best selves, and communicating that to our potential clients through our brands.

Thanks a lot for your contribution, Marta!

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