Oxford to Deptford – by Mattia Cattaruzza, Yestrans Relationship Manager


I left Oxford in July with my degree in hand and my head held high – I had survived the experience, enjoyed myself along the way, and I was about to take the next step in my life. My head wasn’t held high for too long, though. The next day my bubble had been burst, and the sense of achievement from the previous day had been partially replaced by emptiness, loneliness and uncertainty – feelings shared by many a university graduate, I imagine.

Maybe I somehow thought that my degree would be handed to me together with a couple of job offers and some useful test results telling me which future I would be most suited to. It didn’t. In fact, to everyone’s surprise, we weren’t handed anything at all. The official piece of paper came through the post some weeks later, and that was that. So what next? Along with countless others, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I wanted to use my languages and interact with other people on a daily basis. During my year abroad I tried teaching, which was a fun job while it lasted, but in the long term, it wasn’t for me.

During one of many browsing sessions in search of my future at the start of 2015, I had found Luke Trinder, Yestrans director and former member of my Oxford college (Lincoln), and he kindly talked to me about the translation industry and how he got into translation, eventually setting up and running his own successful business. The business was doing very well, but Luke felt there were problems with the fragmented translation industry and believed that, with someone’s help, he could simplify how clients interacted with translation providers and create a more personalised approach to this relationship.

Intrigued by the idea of improving and potentially changing how translation services are provided, I kept in contact with Luke, mulling this potential job over, pushing it slightly to the back of my mind during my exams but never quite letting it out of my sight. After my exams I spoke with Luke a few times, and we decided that September would be a good time to start.

Since my first day, things have progressed quickly. At the start I was heavily involved in the translation and proofreading, of which there are substantial amounts as summer fades into autumn, and Luke gave me ongoing training in building strong relationships with clients at the same time – this would eventually become my main role within the business. Once I had been given the appropriate training, it was time for me to get started on building those new client relationships and familiarise German-speaking businesses with Yestrans.

It has been a very stimulating experience so far – stressful at times, and at others a little dull (legal and medical texts, you know who you are), but for the most part it has been enjoyable and rewarding, and I am continually building ever-stronger relationships with our clients. I speak German on a daily basis – a big plus side to this job for me – and I hope to be travelling to German-speaking Europe in the not-too-distant future in order to continue strengthening the Yestrans brand abroad.

By Mattia Cattaruzza, Yestrans Relationship Manager




What’s in a name? Getting your brand on the road to success in a foreign market

traffic conesThe road to getting your brand established in a foreign market often requires you to steer your way past the pitfalls posed by linguistic and cultural differences. Failing to take these factors into account when marketing a product internationally can harm your brand’s credibility among consumers. So, when moving your brand across the language border, it’s definitely worth giving some thought to how your brand or product names might be received by consumers in your target market. After all, as many companies have found out the hard way, a name that has a delightfully evocative ring to it in one language may – when introduced to speakers of another language – mean something else entirely.

Take the example of American Motors, which – in light of the social unrest in early 1970s America – decided to abandon the name “Rebel” for its mid-size car in favour of the name “Matador”, which was meant to suggest virility and excitement. This appeared to make sense – at least as far as English-speaking consumers were concerned. But when the company introduced the car to the Puerto Rican market, it seems the name was less well received among the country’s Spanish-speaking consumers. Why? Turns out that, in Puerto Rico, the word “matador” can be taken to mean “killer” – a rather unfortunate connotation for Puerto Ricans concerned about safety on the roads.

Another example – also from the car industry – is that of the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. This luxury car was originally supposed to be named “Silver Mist”, but when the company realised that the word “Mist” in German means “manure”, it was concerned that this name might not appeal to consumers in the lucrative German market. Ultimately, Rolls Royce chose the name “Silver Shadow”. A wise move, as it turns out: the Silver Shadow went on to be one of the most successful models ever produced by the company.

As these automotive anecdotes show, it pays to do some research into the language and culture of the country where you plan to do business. If your brand or product name would cause confusion, embarrassment or offence in the foreign market, you’ll need to consider adapting it.

Have you encountered any odd-sounding brand or product names that really ought to have been more suitably adapted for the target market? Let us know!

Serious about growing your company? It’s all about export.

Euro globeA recent survey by Lloyds Bank found that a majority of medium-sized companies are not exporting and not intending to. The results have met with consternation, as it is widely accepted that increased exports are the key to sustainable economic success for the country – and for your company too. In an effort to boost exports out of the UK, the Government is even running a week of regional events designed to inspire and support all kinds of businesses looking to start trading abroad.

Once you have decided to take the plunge, it would be easy to think that success in your home market can simply be replicated abroad; in fact, you should take a more bespoke approach. A new market is almost like a new business, and it requires its own business model, and dedicated investment too. What you will take from your UK success is plenty of learned experience, and a solid base to strike out from. And if you do it right, you may reach the point where your new market becomes your core market.

You are likely to feel some trepidation in approaching a market without contacts, and perhaps unsure of where to find them; this is an area where you can make the most of the UK Government’s enthusiasm for exports. Your first stop should be at UKTI (UK Trade & Investment), the government department charged with improving overseas trade, where you can find a wealth of information. Their online portal has loads of free advice, and the chance to talk to an export adviser for advice tailored to your sector and your target market.

Having got as much help as possible before looking overseas, the next smart move is to forge a relationship with UK trade commissioners in the countries you wish to target: they can share unparalleled expertise in the local market, and probably get you started with building a network of your own, as well as the key legal and trading requirements.

If you think it’s time to think about exporting – while so many of your competitors aren’t doing so – take a look at www.exportweek.ukti.gov.uk, and keep an eye out for Export Week events in your area, 10-14 November.

Why lateral – rather than literal – thinking is the key to translating marketing communications

cupcake with cherryIf you want your marketing messages to have the same kind of impact on your foreign audience as they do in your domestic market, you can rarely rely on a straightforward literal translation. Say you use the phrase “the icing on the cake” to tell customers about that extra-special finishing touch you’ve added to your product or service. If you want to translate the same phrase unambiguously into French, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that in France it seems to be the cherry – and not so much the icing – that counts. The French tend to say “la cerise sur le gâteau”, which literally means “the cherry on the cake”, to describe that additional special something. Moving away from the culinary setting altogether, a German might use the phrase “das Tüpfelchen auf dem i” (“the dot on the [letter] i”) when referring to the same thing.

What these examples show is that different languages often have their own distinctive ways of expressing the same idea. If you want to communicate clearly and effectively in a foreign language, you need to be aware of these kinds of differences – and a literal translation in many cases just won’t do.

When adapting the tone of voice of your marketing communication to suit your target audience, it’s vital that the translation of your message takes into account the linguistic and cultural norms of the foreign market. To take one example – it’s quite normal for German advertising copy to encourage readers to “convince themselves” of the merits of a given product or service with a phrase such as “überzeugen Sie sich selbst davon!” Yet, such a command – if translated literally into English as “convince yourself about it!” – might well elicit an indignant response from, say, British or American readers. A freer translation along the lines of “why not see for yourself…” would be more in keeping with Anglo-American cultural expectations. A good translator will be aware of these kinds of intercultural differences and think laterally – rather than literally – to get your message across in the way you intended.

What other factors do you consider important when it comes to getting across your marketing message internationally?

Tips on going international – choosing a target market

Many factors can influence which countries you start with for exporting –  geography, language, personal connections… If you’ve already got a target market in mind, the first thing you should ask yourself is: “Will people there want what I’m offering, and what will influence their decision-making process?”

Consumer tastes and attitudes often differ across borders – sometimes significantly. Although success in the domestic market can provide an excellent  framework to build on internationally, it’s important to take these differences into account.

Take the US cereal Lucky Charms. You’d think that a children’s cereal would sell equally well to kids and parents either side of the Atlantic. Apparently not! It seems the cereal contains too many genetically modified ingredients for the Brits’ liking, and parents were outraged to find supermarkets selling the product. More thorough market research is key here in order to understand how attitudes differ on an international scale.

You might want to think about the following issues relating to your product when considering exporting:

  • What are the prevalent attitudes to key features of your product?
  • Are similar products or services available in the target market?
  • Is there an appropriate level of demand?
  • How much do the products currently on the market cost?
  • Who are your potential customers – are they the same groups as those you target domestically?
  • Could you do some market research – what do local people think of your products and services?

All of this is also important in making decisions about pricing and marketing, and whether any changes need to be made to your products or services before taking this step.

Options include visiting the country in question for research purposes, and carrying out surveys to get your questions answered by potential consumers. This may seem like an expensive option, but it’s worth it if it means getting it right when expanding your business!

What are your tips for deciding on a target market? Do you agree with the steps we’d take? Let us know!

Export Talk – Kristina S Bobs

Kristina BobsOur new blog series, Export Talk, consists of brief interviews with successful exporters. We’ll be bringing you their thoughts on exporting and their tips for international trade.

First up is Kristina S Bobs of Svaja. Her glass and linen design business supplies luxury hotels, company headquarters and boutiques around the world.

What do you find the most difficult part of exporting?

The most difficult part of exporting is the ability to close deals – to receive a purchase order and down payment. My experience working in the Middle East is that there can be lots of promises, lots of sampling, even site visits – but in the end it only counts if you manage to close a deal. The process can last a number of years – be patient and keep a close eye!

What is your approach to cultural differences when you’re trading in different countries?

Personally, I’m very cosmopolitan and well travelled, so it’s easier for me to approach and work in culturally different areas. You can only go to different markets if you are prepared to accept cultural differences, to be flexible and to learn about markets of interest in advance.

What languages do you speak? Do you do business in all of them?

I am a native Lithuanian speaker, and I have full professional proficiency in English and Russian. I also have elementary French and Arabic and can understand and read Polish.

What would your advice be to someone just starting to export?

At first, ask expert advisers such as UKTI. Make sure your product is suitable for the market and try to do a few small transactions before a market visit. Be focussed, dedicated and patient. Visit the target market and learn a few words of the language spoken there – that will make an impression and show that you are serious about entering the market there! Personal relationships and preparation are the keys to success.

You can find out more about Svaja on Twitter, Facebook and through the Svaja website and online shop.

Would you like to be featured in Export Talk? Contact us