Author Archives: Terena Bell

Terena Bell

About Terena Bell

Terena Bell is the senior director of communication for Lionbridge. She previously worked as an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.

SDL Tados 2021

Umlauts and circumflexes and tildes, oh my

Localization, Technology

In localization circles, we frequently talk about the need to include fonts in what gets internationalized: localization works beyond translation in making sure a source message is correctly conveyed in the new, target market, so of course the work includes any visual element with meaning. Fonts have their own subliminal expressions — in the United States, for example, Times New Roman is considered a little stodgy, Courier New ironically old. But more pragmatically, certain fonts simply don’t work in other languages. Take Traditional Chinese: use a typography too thick or bolded and the actual character could change. Anything below 10.5 point and even unbolded copy becomes impossible to read.

If managing the typeface a client’s message is in sounds hard, try localizing the font itself. That’s the concern our company faced when it created Lionbridge Sans, the company’s new corporate font. Used for marketing, sales and internal communications, it turns one year old September 5.

If 2018 was the year of the dog in China, in the United States it was the year of bespoke fonts, with The Verge reporting that no tech company makes it big until after it’s developed one. The article focused on Netflix launching Netflix Sans, mentioning the font followed Apple’s release of San Francisco, Samsung’s SamsungOne and Google’s Product Sans. And, yes, in case those “sans” made you wonder: Lionbridge, Samsung and Google’s typefaces all find their roots in Comic Sans.

If fonts have cultural meaning, then in American design circles, Comic Sans comes with a smile. Its childlike simplicity makes it the font typophiles love to hate, but this simplicity is precisely what makes derivatives perfect for localization. Microsoft actually invented Comic Sans in 1994 with the express design of developing something less stodgy and more user-friendly than the Times New Roman it used at the time. Comic Sans’ thin strokes made it ideal for software user interfaces and had the helpful side effect of looking good in pictorial languages. “It’s a special font,” said Jaime Punishill, Lionbridge’s chief marketing officer. “It’s universal across mediums, universal across languages.”

A tagline localized into Lionbridge Sans in French.

That’s not to say localizing Lionbridge Sans was easy. Five internal departments partnered with design agency Vivaldi on every umlaut, circumflex and tilde. Not only was there stroke width to consider, but non-Roman languages understandably have their own writing systems, many Roman languages have letters that don’t appear in English and then there’s the whole issue of diacritics — a particular concern to Lionbridge’s Polish translator working on the font team. Getting the o-acute (ó) right was particularly tricky: written correctly, the tail of the accent must hit square in the letter’s middle. In early, pre-release drafts, a Lionbridge engineer noticed the capital Ñ was taller than entry settings in Excel allowed — something the company clearly needed to resolve for Spanish language spreadsheets.

A tagline localized into Lionbridge Sans in Korean.

Letter by letter, language by language, the details had to be worked through with in-country linguistic and design experts to get everything right.

“In today’s marketplace, branding and experience are more important than ever — and increasingly difficult to achieve,” Punishill said. “It’s one thing to say you’re brand internationalization experts.” But it’s another, trickier prospect to actually globalize your own brand.

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Terena Bell is the senior director of communication for Lionbridge. She previously worked as an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.


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The deep dish on Papa John’s approach to in-country review


Papa John’s ICR

Hank Enright Papa John’s ICR

I write a column in the MultiLingual print edition where clients share why they do — and don’t — buy professional translation. This issue, which just went live, features Hank Enright, director of international training at Papa John’s, an international pizza chain based in Louisville, Kentucky.

While discussing how Papa John’s chooses translation partners, which you can read about in the print edition, Enright additionally gave us an inside look at the company’s unique approach to in-country review (ICR). Papa John’s gamifies ICR, offering employees virtual cash for every error found.

Papa John’s gamifies ICR, offering employees virtual cash for every error found. Click To Tweet

Raised in Mexico to American parents, Enright considers himself fluent in English and Spanish. So he oversees translation between the two, performing a lot of the work himself. He’s says he’s not the only employee the company has translating, though: “When available,” Papa John’s relies on “internal resources to either translate, edit or proof content” into multiple languages: Enright translates Spanish, the company’s Beijing team reviews and edits Simplified Chinese, and the company’s new international business director handles Korean.

“For other languages — based on the volume to be translated or reviewed — we have had our native-speaking franchise business consultants provide feedback,” Enright says. “Where we do not have a native speaker, we have leveraged and partnered with the in-country franchise team as appropriate, and even on occasion spouses who have worked in the food and hospitality industry.”

“When you translate your own materials internally, you are your own customer, provider and editor,” he continues. “It can be tempting to not include a feedback cycle.” So Enright developed a reward system that encourages employees to find each other’s mistakes.

Eligible content includes menus, box labeling, leaflets, websites, collateral for new market openings and other marketing material. Documents are translated by the local franchise or marketing team, which then challenges Enright to find errors and typos. When Papa John’s expanded into Guatemala, Enright earned eight quetzales (around $1) from errors in a menu board panel. “I have yet to return to Guatemala to collect,” he jokes.

According to Enright, it works — for Guatemalan Spanish, at least. “By partnering with the local franchisee on material review, we launched the brand with coherent and properly translated materials, which is a win-win. Thanks to our expanding market needs and addition of new staff, we now use standardized templates to reduce or eliminate my well-intended revenue stream.”

Of course, paying employees to find errors in translation could incorrectly and negatively skew a client’s perception of translation quality: the method rewards quantity, after all, with no reward when errors aren’t found. And Papa John’s has systematically had a hard time finding a translation provider it’s pleased with — one reason Enright gives for why he translates so much personally.

To the company’s credit, though, one past provider made obvious gaffes — like translating “Give it your guts; it ain’t harder than that” as “Give your matured guts, anything harder than that.” In instances like these, Enright says, “It takes just as much time to edit a translation than to do it all internally.”

Regardless of who translates, he adds, “If not cross-checked, you can end up lost in translation or with an entirely different meaning.” Like any client, Papa John’s wants translations that are industry-aware and brand-specific. When the source content’s tricky, Enright says, “A translator can put forth their best effort but if a native speaking, subject matter expert does not proof and verify that the meaning behind the words is interpreted correctly, you will end up losing credibility and transferring incomplete or incorrect information.”

Papa John’s may have stopped offering staff money for uncovered mistakes, but that doesn’t mean the game isn’t still on for Enright: “I still have native speaking Spanish speakers and others reach out to me for translating, edit, proofing or correcting in Spanish and English…I take great pride and ownership in reviewing, correcting and editing Spanish language material. It is critical that the end product facing the franchisee or customer reflects professionalism and — as much as possible — does not seem as if it were translated from English.”

However your company handles ICR, Enright stresses that “proofing and editing [are] often not given the importance and time [they] deserve. The feedback cycle to the translator is vital to increasing the quality of future translations!”

Learn more about Papa John’s translation process and purchasing decisions in the current issue of MultiLingual.

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Terena Bell is the senior director of communication for Lionbridge. She previously worked as an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.


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Adobe announces a new, potentially horrifying level of personalization

Personalization and Design

“I was horrified.” That was reporter Eric Wood’s reaction to “unified profile” — the idea of collecting every online data point about a person into a single system. Modern consumers, says Adobe executive vice-president of marketing Brad Rencher, are “everywhere — they’re on mobile, social and they’re in your store. And they have multiple touchpoints including your loyalty programs, commerce systems, your support pages.” With that data spread out, it’s hard to personalize marketing across platforms. That’s why Rencher’s keynote at today’s Adobe Summit in Las Vegas focused on consolidating it into one profile tracking every data point about you.

Personalization began innocuously enough. Ideally, the approach helps both consumer and company. People get annoyed when they’re constantly presented with ads for stuff they’d never buy — no man, for example, wants a barrage of tampon ads. Audience precision clears out the junk. It also makes company operations more efficient: If businesses can get the right message to the right person and the right time, they’ll waste less time and make more money. In personalization, localization found an easy home: after all, what’s more personal than connecting in someone’s native language?

Adobe announces new personalization

But as I sit in the dark convention center listening to Rencher’s keynote, I have to ask: how personal is too personal? He starts talking about a woman who goes online to book a hotel, then hears the phone ring. Just as I would, she gets distracted, forgetting all about her en medias reservation. As someone who’s actually had this happen, and wound up paying double for the hotel as a result, I think, so far so good. Then Rencher begins to brag about how an ad for the hotel could follow her around — not just Google AdSense, the program that drops cookies in order to display bounceback ads on subsequent sites you visit, but Facebook display ads, texts — basically everything I use to communicate. Here, buy me, look at this, don’t you forget about me! Rencher sees a world with full integration of all your data everywhere — a single, unified profile where every data point about your life inevitably interacts. “How do we create a unified profile that enables you [the Adobe customer] to deliver a unified experience?” he asks.

It’s creepy.

And in Germany, it’s essentially illegal. The General Data Protection Regulation (EU/2016/679), more commonly known as GDPR, is a European regulation that shifts the definitions of personally identifiable information (PII) and what companies are allowed to do with it. Rencher calls GDPR the “four letters that will impact all of us.”

On July 5, 2017, Germany became first to adopt this standard. And just as your unified profile would follow you around, this European guidance is moving into other countries. US adoption begins May 25, 2018. Because translation companies are the ones personalizing websites, apps, and other data collection points, GDPR might come for localization next. The web, as we often say, is international, after all. You could be a New Zealand company translating into Ewe for a client in Brazil, but it doesn’t matter. As long as anyone in a GDPR-enforceable country can click on that translated site, this affects you.

A single, unified profile where every data point about your life inevitably interacts... Creepy. Click To Tweet

“How many of you in your organizations are able to recognize an inbound web hit is coming from Germany and be able to treat that data differently?” Rencher asks, “These are not easy challenges to solve if you’re dealing with and using legacy systems. Stitching all that data together can take months if not years.”

In addition to regulatory difficulties, Adobe also has a hard time dealing with the ethical implications of unified profile. In a post-keynote presser, reporters from NewsCorp, CMO Australia, IT Business, TechCrunch and others railed Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, chief technical officer Abhay Parasnis and Rencher, asking the same question about user privacy again and again.

After stressing that the onus of privacy protection falls on the user, Narayen said, “I think the rich number of questions around data and privacy really show that it’s front and center on people’s minds — on the enterprise’s mind.”

The ethics around data collection, whether people should opt in or out, and how well users truly understand the decision, are a topic for another day. But in the meantime, the localization industry should be thinking about how to prepare for a swingback. As more users turn off cookies and turn on ad blockers to keep AdSense et al from following, “personalization” could become a dirty word. And personalization is how we sell. If a swingback comes — if the broader public tires of ads or data collectors tracking them across platforms — will localization need a new message?

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Terena Bell is the senior director of communication for Lionbridge. She previously worked as an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.

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