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What is a brand image and how can transcreation and copywriting help make your messages relevant and profitable?


Fireworks of brands
Fireworks of brands

I AM... my own (brand) image, which I glimpse through the eyes of others, or a mirror, in other words, through my own distorted vision.

This, for personal branding - or personal marketing in French.

The concept of brand image is so broad, not to say blurred, that it can be difficult to grasp. This is all about our own brand image, and that of other (physical) human beings or legal bodies (i.e. entities) that surround us or that we may represent.

Its genesis, its growth, its capacity to adapt, its consistency, its effectiveness, its sustainability - and its ability to appeal to us again and again.

In short: brand management.

Brand image refers to all the physical, real, virtual, psychological, historical and collective elements that make us perceive a brand in one way rather than another, and that encourage us to approach it, to interact with it, to embrace it - or disassociate ourselves from it.

 

But what are the key protean components that make up a brand image?

➥ How do we create a brand image when we are starting from scratch, when we are embarking on an entrepreneurial venture, when we are, for example, setting up a start-up from the ground up?

➥ A groundbreaking, unique, mind-blowing product or service, a disruptive or incremental innovation, a cutting-edge concept or a new form of "back-pedalling" (i.e. bringing old models and old successful recipes up to date, backed by a robust and smart marketing approach), a niche in an almost fully developed, saturated market, etc. - are these not enough in themselves to ensure that your business will soar, that it will be successful, that it will achieve the flying start that you dream of? Like innovative new technology companies (but not only), with high growth potential – such as start-ups?

➥ Is the brand image as shaky as a giant with feet of clay? Or is it, instead, resilient to the worst storms and weather catastrophes? Are community managers the guardians of the digital temple?

➥ What happens when a company's brand image is tarnished, or worse, shattered, disparaged or massively rejected?

➥ How long does it take to (re-)build a brand image, and what brand management tools should be used?

➥ What actions need to be taken to develop and maintain a brand image that is appealing, reassuring, meets customers' expectations and encourages them to go further and take action, via a well thought-out and properly targeted CTA, for example? A brand image that makes sense and reaches its target audience, that is both effective and viable - if not envied - in the face of fierce and sometimes brutal competition?

➥ Thus, when I go shopping, to what extent am I influenced, consciously and/or unconsciously, by my own perceptions of brands? By the thousands of advertising messages I'm exposed to every day, without really being aware of it.

➥ To what extent is my irresistible attraction to Custard Cream biscuits, to Jammie Dodgers, Ginger Nuts (?) and Garibaldi biscuits (!), influenced by a personal or even exclusive history with certain brands, by some (collateral?) effect of a brand marketing (multi-channel brand marketing) of which I am not even remotely aware? Or is it just pure, irrational greed?

 Oh Jammie Dodgers, how I loooove your curvy ad shapes!

 ➥ When I go for an interview or offer my professional services, am I proposing and promoting my own brand, sort of a trademark, a reflection of my skills and know-how? Like a kind of personal branding (i.e.: personal marketing), or self-centred "independent brand" management? And especially if I'm a self-employed entrepreneur... 😊

➥ What makes a brand stand out from the crowd and makes me to click on a CTA?

 

So many questions... with no answers (?)

Well, I'm going to provide some answers, from the perspective of my small skylight, on this ruthless and extremely complex world.

What is clear is that where brand image is concerned, nothing is ever won in advance - or taken for granted - and that the efforts to be made are both huge and long-term. Today, success can only be achieved through a combination of perseverance, integrity and transparency, together with a sustained commitment to the community and an ethical battle over price and quality, while ensuring that each and every one of us can make a decent living from our work - blah, blah, blah.

All underpinned by an agile and consistent brand management strategy.

Advertising as we knew it before the internet revolution is a thing of the past.
A person on a computer sending a review of a product or service...
Exploring the importance of customer reviews in the customer journey

It's no longer a matter of massifying advertising communication to sell. There are other, more subtle and nuanced paths and drivers of success that we can take. Going for the start-up model, for example, is fine, but the key is to have a long-term vision.


It's a bit of a cliché, but it describes the "bare" reality: today, brand image is shaped by both the brand itself and by the consumers themselves. And the scales are still shifting one way, by a vertical force that applies to all, and which I'll let you guess...

Any errors made, inaccuracies, defective products/services or after-sales support, or a tarnished e-reputation (i.e. Online reputation), will have a lasting effect that will be both complex and time-consuming to rectify.

Think about the last time you needed to change or upgrade your mobile phone, dishwasher, toaster or gaming screen for a 27", 32" or 34" - without a specific brand in mind.

How did you go about it, and what most influenced your shortlist and final choice? Do you put more trust in what brands say, in their adverts, or rather in the opinions of internet users, customers who have preceded you, the comparison and test sites, and perhaps even the influencers you follow?

Or perhaps you're just blending a subtle mix of concrete, well-thought-out elements with a fair proportion of variables beyond your control? A tricky alchemy that drives our choices? Choices for life(s), products, services or even relationships...

Integrated (brand) marketing is never more than a whisper away, always on the lookout for our every move.

 

The face of a person torn between the many brands on offer and not knowing which to choose.
How to make the right choice?

Here is part of the answer: The image of a brand, or at least the perception we ultimately have of it when we show interest in a product or service, is derived from both the coherence of the brand's voice, its historical background, its genesis and its reputation around us, by word of mouth, its e-reputation, its capacity to provide first class after-sales service, to offer products at the best value for money, and all this with an ethical, authentic - and not too (visibly) opportunistic - environmental approach... In the marketing sense, naturally 😊

A brand's image, and its propensity to make us act, to encourage us to get closer to the cash drawer, is therefore the result of many different parameters and stems from an essentially direct and subjective relationship we have, or don't have, with it. It is shaped by factors such as the intrinsic characteristics of the product, the customer's experience and the advertising campaigns that have been run.

It is the direct outcome of the branding strategy.

Brand image or branding, or brand marketing in its active form, is initially built around a visual identity. In other words, a graphic charter with a logo, colour palette, typography, etc.

A brand identity (or "brand universe") encompasses all the elements related to the company's activity and makes it possible to create a universe that defines the company's DNA, that conveys its values, its history, its distinguishing marks and its personality.

Brand image and brand identity are therefore two distinct components that, when combined, become the bedrock of our brand perception. The latter corresponds primarily to the image that a company seeks to convey to its consumers. And not the image they actually have of the company.

Brand image depends on each individual's interactions and experiences with the organisation.
A billboard advertisement for a washing machine, designed to create an irresistible impulse to buy.
Marketing strategy: creating the urge to...

An effective brand image must be able to project a positive and unique image. An attractive vision that inspires people to smile, that inspires (trust), that reassures and that creates desire.


This complex and multifaceted perception is made up of elements as diverse as:

💫 The knowledge and recognition of a brand: its expertise, its qualities, its added value.

🌟 Its awareness: as the presence of a brand (known and renowned) in the minds of consumers. It is largely shaped by advertising.

🌈 Its visual identity: the pleasure and memory of the eye. The personality of the brand, like a living being.

🌿 Its corporate culture through the consumer's identification with the culture, message and values conveyed by the company.

💖 Its reputation and, to a large extent, its e-reputation - again.

 All is said, all is there.

According to studies on the impact of customer reviews on consumer behaviour, up to 91% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In France for example, 52% of shoppers use reviews to assess a company's reputation before making a purchase decision.

Customer reviews and influencers appear to be far more persuasive than advertising when it comes to influencing consumers' purchasing decisions.

 Google reviews, Trustpilot, Which?, Feefo, comparison sites, etc.

 🎈 The customer experience: the one that builds a brand's reputation over time. It is (or should be) at the heart of all sales and support efforts. The key is to be able to identify its shortcomings and provide fast, personalised and relevant responses to user experiences. To be able to rely on a robust infrastructure for continuous improvement.

🎵 The status or concept of product range: is it a high-end or mid-range brand, or one that is known or even stigmatised as a low-end or budget brand? And what exactly is the best way to move upmarket, if required, or to offer products that could be considered somewhat “identical” (sometimes not exactly, but quite the same) but with a different “standing” and at different prices?

🌺 The perceived quality (through the brand we buy, the packaging, etc.) versus the real, intrinsic quality... This is where brand image will play its full role in influencing our choices. We will be willing to pay up to twice the low-cost price for an item simply because it is labelled, identified and packaged differently - by a brand we trust.

🎶 The storytelling - or the art of telling a (beautiful) story to get a message across - is the key to any communication: knowing how to tell your story, or a story, but also a shared story, a common destiny, and stirring an emotion to connect with your audience.

In other words, this "brand image" will have two main dimensions:

1. Objective criteria: quality/durability, price and range of products available, innovation and added value compared to the existing offer, not to mention recyclability and environmental aspects.

2. Subjective criteria: less obvious, tangible (?) and verifiable elements such as reputation combined with e-reputation, customer experience and... brand loyalty ❤️


Let's take the ruthless business of mobile phones as an example. There are some diehards who will only go for the brand with the tangy taste, like the fruit that grows on the tree and from which you can make cider. Are you with me?

And yet, what once made this beautiful fruit (which is less forbidden - or preserved - than it used to be) an icon, no longer seems to be a panacea. The device has undoubtedly become more compatible and open to new applications, but the reliability and acknowledged sturdiness of the first models seem to have faded a little, with a few scratches, where other brands offer equivalent or even better quality, at a sometimes more modest price.


Representation of the "apple" brand, in red, with two hands holding it and with a representation of a prohibition sign.
Iconic apple and brand fascination

But the faithful of the early days, the lifelong devotees, the enthusiasts, the die-hards of this emblematic brand, remain almost unfailingly willing to spend more than a thousand euros and wait several hours in front of a boutique to pocket this wonder of new technologies, despite it having suffered a few bursts of wind and heavy weather on its sweet, gourmand, and flamboyant silhouette. Here, the brand - and all that goes with it - will be the most powerful driving force behind the act of buying.

⛔ Reason will be muzzled and, to some extent, ignored.

The priority will be to own the very latest version (when you can afford it), to show if off proudly and to remain part of the great family of those who have made the right choice, who have understood that nothing will ever equal this product with such a unique visual identity. 🍎🌟

Oh, brand image, when you hold us...

Irresistible and intriguing brand image

A brand's image, in the broadest sense, will therefore be a priceless treasure, a constituent element or even a tangible asset of a company, with great value even beyond - and sometimes apart from - any physical or real estate assets. A brand can therefore be sold in the same way as a factory, a building, an island (?). You seize the opportunity offered by a company that is in trouble, that has fallen too far behind, but above all you buy the logo and the brand image in order to reshape it, to modernise it, to make it tell a new story, to make it make the shift it has missed.

Because beyond the company's machines, the in-house human skills and know-how, the brand image capital, the sympathy capital, the "shared history" capital, the reliability capital, the market penetration capital - and of the people's minds - can sometimes have more market value and, above all, sales potential.

Surprisingly, we all do branding at some point. Whether it's personal or business-related. A kind of self-focus to put ourselves - or our company - in the spotlight, to showcase and sometimes even flaunt, the most beautiful, glamorous, unique and flamboyant aspects of our entity. In a way, we all "dream" of being influencers, in both the real and virtual worlds...

From old-fashioned advertising to modern advertising, including social networks (such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn), billboard campaigns and brand events, it all contributes to showcase the amazing value proposition that is offered to you. Highlighting the good and the bright side of things, presenting yourself as an expert, gaining legitimacy... and telling a story through moving, engaging, touching and sometimes even deliberately shocking narratives.

That's pretty much what I'm doing here, through this post. What we all do, in our own way and at our own level, through our interactions with our closest and more distant circles, when we share good deals, inspiring photos, moments of conviviality, tips and tricks and real-life experiences. A very personal form of multi-channel brand marketing.


And this constant search for recognition, which is essentially existential for each individual, will be the condition of survival for the company. And vice versa?

 

And me, and I, and I, in all this?

The translator's job, whatever the source and target languages, is to translate from one language to another, from one culture to another, from one reference point to another.

To put it more clearly, the translator is a "go-between" - or a boatman...


Image of a man on a small wooden boat, holding a laptop on his lap, wearing a suit, with a suitcase next to him, sunglasses and earphones in his ears.
The translator is a "go-between" - or a boatman...

He or she conveys a message from one language to another and makes it understandable in the target culture, working from a storytelling proposed to him or her, whether it is just a structured story or one that has already been worded in the source language. And every message, every communication, whether aimed at an internal audience, a professional target or a BtoC end customer, is the very expression of the image that a brand wants to deliver to its target audience.

 

In translation, and even more in transcreation or copywriting, the initial work consists precisely in immersing oneself in the culture of the partner company, in the relationship that the brand nurtures with its customers, in the corporate image that it wishes to convey, in its history, its business objectives, its personality, its lexicon, its language register, its brand positioning - in order to tailor the advertising message perfectly to the potential customers in the target market.

Without this initial work, which can involve dozens of pages of Brief + Tone Of Voice (TOV) + Brand Guidelines etc., the explicit and implicit messages in the source language may be poorly transcribed and conveyed in the target language. Because beyond the target language, it is above all the target culture, combined with the client's market approach and corporate culture, its unique positioning, its hallmark, its vision that makes it so singular and immediately recognisable, its integrated marketing communications strategy... Going far further than its visual identity.

The translator who specialises in transcreation, or the copywriter, will then take on, alongside their role as linguist, the role of actor or interpreter, or even novelist-journalist in the case of the copywriter. They will have to immerse themselves in the character, the narrative, the nuances of the message and give life to a "new" story that will hook the reader, the recipients, and not let them go, not give them the slightest chance to move away - and above all the urge to do so. At no point, and from the very first words, should they be tempted to zap, scroll, swipe - the publicists' nightmare - the Ariadne's thread of the communication offered to them. Communication or advertising must be hypnotic, in a way... 😮

Just like a reader of a novel or of a newspaper article, nothing must be left to chance so as to maintain a certain pressure, an urgent urge, a desire in the reader, who will be hooked from the very first words to the next line, the next paragraph, the next page, the next chapter, right through to the happy denouement. Then, perhaps, the temptation will arise to get more, to buy another novel by the same author, to subscribe for another year to a print or digital newspaper, to buy a new version of a device.

The voice must be clearly audible, recognisable, identifiable and relevant to the target audience in terms of language register, everyday vocabulary, key words, values and priorities.

The translator, the transcreation specialist (transcreator), the copywriter (advertising content writer) would be a kind of evangelist in addition to being a go-between?

To a certain extent, yes.


A man in a suit, with a beige cape, walks ahead of a happy and fascinated crowd and seems to be leading them towards a bright future.
Brand Evangelist

They are entrusted with a mission of the utmost importance: to contribute to the evangelisation of leads (or prospects) who have not yet been converted to the magnificence of the product or service on offer, to maintaining a close and continuous link with the brand's faithful followers and potential customers, by taking part, through their words, in the animation of the various networks (including TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), by growing them through the communication of exclusive offers, good deals, tips and tricks, unmissable events and new capsules.

As such, they are part of the Community management strategy, through "their pen", acting as the voice of the brand in the target language.

Evangelising and fostering loyalty: these are the objectives of the transcreator and the copywriter, who will be the brand's flag-bearers, their link with the target audience, their ambassadors.

They will help deliver a unique customer experience to both loyal customers and newcomers by transposing the original message into the target language, while at the same time rooting it in the culture of the target community, its language, its collective consciousness and history.

But to deliver a unique customer experience, you need to devote the necessary resources and produce a wealth of storytelling that will capture the audience's attention in the long term, regardless of the communication channel.

For example, if you address a French market with an ad in a language that is clumsy, not localised, not tailored to the specific target audience, not nuanced or unable to echo a play on words, a playful, confident, reassuring, engaging tone of voice, you will invariably miss your target because your message will be less relevant, less effective, less emotionally charged and less likely to resonate.

 

Isn't an innovative product offering enough to get started and succeed?

The Japanese, Icelandic, British, Spanish, American, French (and so forth) markets generate and abound with so many innovations every year that only those who are well armed to stand out from the crowd, those who manage to gather the right skills around them, who understand how to use the social networks through their Community managers, who understand how to communicate efficiently, have a chance of breaking through... and lasting.

"Brand management strategy is key", the Silicon Valley brand management leaders (or gurus) would say.

So many superb inventions, incredibly innovative products and services have never reached the market - or managed to last beyond the first few months or years - because of a lack of resources, advertising inspiration and/or an effective, consistent, integrated marketing approach, or because of positioning errors, inadequate, failed or ineffective communication.

It is therefore rather pointless to embark on an entrepreneurial venture, to innovate, to create a start-up, if you don't grasp the crucial and decisive value of a communication in line with your ambitions.

⚠️ Communication is as important as - not to say more significant than - the product or service you are offering.

Great ideas pop up every day, or almost every day. ☹ But getting from idea to reality, is a giant step. Setting up a distribution network can also be a time-consuming phase, although it remains crucial. But underestimating the importance of a consistent, recurring, efficient message, optimised in terms of keywords and ranking, can only lead to a brick wall.

The role of the Community manager can be decisive here, as can that of the translator, transcreator, copywriter, cultural consultant or SEO expert, all of whom play a key role when targeting an existing market or new markets, whether national or international.

If you don't have a smart, well-planned, localised, effective, innovative and regular communications strategy and approach, you run the serious risk of waking up too late to the fact that, although the market is never fully saturated because it craves innovation, accessing it is like paddling up a long, turbulent river, and that only the best communicators, advertisers and brand managers will be able to make your offer visible and accessible to a wide target audience.

There will always be room for start-ups proposing new business models and new paradigms, but that in itself is not enough. It is essential to know your audience well and to know how to make the most of the multi-channel communication mechanisms that will ultimately lead to an action from the lead (prospect) or customer, to a click on a Call to Action (CTA) and, finally, to an online or in-store purchase.

This is the sinews of war, but as in any conflict, only the best strategists will manage to play the game well.

In today's (almost) "all-digital" world, it's really a question of:

✔️ Website and ergonomics

✔️ Search engines (indexing, SEO/SEA etc.)

✔️ Product accessibility, delivery times, price justification, product/service information

✔️ Customer reviews and testimonials plus product testing and comparison sites

✔️ Online advertising (e.g. email campaigns, sponsored ads, social networks, websites, blogs, etc.) + offline advertising (e.g. TV ads, radio spots, posters, flyers, etc.), which are equally important, needless to say.


The key lies in successfully engaging leads and clients, retaining them, pampering them, incentivising them, nurturing your network, and ensuring that at some point they actually take ACTION via a CTA.

  • Implementing a multi-channel brand marketing strategy that meets the aspirations of your target audience.

  • Learning how to speak to them in the language they speak, the language they like, using the words they need or want to hear. You also need to know how to tailor your communications to your customers, and not just come up with a single message that is then literally translated into other languages and cultures.

The target audience must feel that the message, the advert, is specifically about and for them.

As far as I am concerned, as a self-employed French professional, in my translation and transcreation activities from English into French (from France), French copywriting (for the French market), SEO and cultural consultancy projects, when I start a project on a new product or service, and especially for a new client, I immerse myself in its history, its genesis. I absorb all their communication channels (websites, social networks, etc.) and make their constraints my own. I undertake in-depth research about the company, its products and services, its reputation (especially its e-reputation) and the way it interacts with its customers and prospects. Then I start a first draft, which I rework and polish again and again until I have a message that sounds spontaneous, no-frills but compelling, and which should reflect nothing less than a genuine invitation to meet, to get to know each other and share common values.


Like so many of my fellow linguists, freelance English-to-French translators, transcreators and copywriters, I'm rather the kind of person... haunted by words, their nuances, their phrasing and their impact. Like an actor, I get into the skin of the audience I have - or picture - in front of me, and I adopt the style that will speak to them, that will guide them towards the next stage: an action or involvement on their part.


The reader in turn becomes a stakeholder, an actor, who is encouraged to interact, because they are concerned, because they feel involved and sense that the value proposition can benefit them - because what they are reading makes sense.

That's the magic of brand management that hits the mark. Oops, that works!


To find out more about my service range of services, take a look at my professional website.


Talk soon!


A human shape made up of a multitude of brands and logos
We are the guardians of brands

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