The future of branding (for LSPs)

The Dec. 6 edition of The New York Times was bought in its entirety by General Electric (GE) in a first-ever bid to rethink print advertising. Clearly, GE shows they appreciate the power of print with their seven-figure campaign. And it appears to have worked.

GE had major news to announce, and with this move assured that readers were perfectly primed for their message. What’s a story without a picture, and vice versa? The campaign crossed over to digital advertising as well, highlighting the importance of full-spectrum marketing.

“This isn’t just advertising. The content has to be fantastic,” GE’s longtime marketing chief Linda Boff said. “It has to be just as interesting as the story on the page before it.”

The publisher and editors must have carefully considered their regular content planning around the gap of one day of NYT. At the same time, being handed advertorial (sponsored content clearly marked as such but similar to regular articles) reduces the amount of work editors need to do to get an issue ready for print.

This move points to an emerging trend that could be called “splash marketing” — making a splash with a major campaign and leaving a lasting impression. The idea is to own the entire space and leave no room for others, and ideally being the first to do it. People will wonder what the heck you’re up to, and that can be a great interest generator.

Branding, marketing, and advertising strategies continuously change as customer needs and values develop. It’s essential to acknowledge you are listening to, and understanding of your customers. Mirroring their values can be scary, especially for traditional marketers. But in recent years, major companies have chosen to publicly project their politics and belief systems. According to Sprout Social research, two-thirds (66%) of individuals surveyed feel that it’s important for brands to take a public stance on leading social and political issues like immigration, human rights, and race relations. In 2018, Nike backed former football quarterback Colin Kapaernick for his civil rights activism. Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks vowed to pay for their employee’s travel costs if they needed to travel for an abortion after the overturning of Roe v Wade in 2022. And during Pride Month, countless companies support LGBTQ+ rights in their public advertising and marketing campaigns.

Knowing when to make a change in strategy is possible only when clients or prospects trust their provider enough to give honest feedback. And sometimes providers just try something new because they believe in it, and measure success as they do so. These are the trailblazers, but they do this at a huge risk — reputationally and financially. Marketing and experienced media agencies can help analyze markets, provide special opportunities, and recommend ways to stand out with your marketing.

One example of trying something new in the language industry is found in Translated 9. This Swan65 sailing boat that is being prepped to join the 2023 Ocean Globe Race (OGR) has generated interest and questions, and plenty of prospects, according to Translated’s executives.

“We know that Translated 9 in San Francisco has been a topic of conversation even among those previously unfamiliar with our company,” said Translated cofounder Marco Trombetti. “Translated 9 is a courageous project and represents our company’s founding values: courage, optimism, vision, and the ability to work hard to achieve a common goal.”

MultiLingual Media publisher and CEO Marjolein Groot Nibbelink took a trip to San Francisco on invitation by Translated to sail their boat and ask tough questions.

“How can you not see the Instagram value of sailing with Paul Cayard in the San Francisco Bay? Even when you, like me, deeply dislike being on boats,” said Groot Nibbelink. “Besides providing a unique setting to rub shoulders with people from leading tech companies, it elevates your own profile by being considered influential enough for a company to make this kind of investment in you.”

But how do they connect sailing and the translation business? According to Chris Thomas, account executive at Translated and one of the company’s representatives of the sailing events in San Francisco, “There is an underlying technology behind both of those activities. Nowadays when we translate, we really count on machine translation (MT) in many situations because the global content is too great to be able to do it with just humans. But we’re creating a technology rather to help humans, not to replace humans, so that they can do their best work. The way that equates to being on a boat is that there is an underlying technology — the boat — and the challenge to doing it more human-based rather than tech-based is what is equal to our company values.”

Thomas continued, “There are many similarities between running a team, or working in a corporation, and being on a boat. There’s a big element of trust. You can’t really do it alone. You need to be able to count on people.”

Trombetti, who is currently sailing in the Cape 2 Rio Race, said, “In business, you need to be brave enough to take chances and learn how to look at things in a brand-new way. … Translated constantly sets new and even more ambitious goals so that we can grow with our clients and resolve their problems and improve everyone’s quality of life.”

As for business opportunities generated from the Translated 9 campaign so far, officials see benefits beyond the dollars and cents.

“It’s definitely a sail event but not so much a sales event,” Thomas said. “It has been a way in 2021 and 2022 to engage with people as a company safely during COVID, when people were not able to meet much face to face. It’s a networking opportunity, sure. Sort of like a mini-event-series. And we saw whales twice!”

Trombetti keeps his cards closer to his chest but promises more information at a later time. “We plan to share the results of the whole project when the activities come to an end. What we can say for now is that this has been the most productive sailing experience ever,” he said. “… Over 1,200 people applied to join the (OGR) crew. Of the 400 who work in the localization industry, more than 270 C-level and top managers were invited to sail with us in San Francisco.”

Sponsoring or organizing community events has become a very popular form of marketing for LSPs, offering education or networking, or both. Display advertising remains strong with Google offering more localized advertisements, and print ads never lost their potential in niche magazines such as MultiLingual. But creating your own event series on a sailing boat — that is truly unique!

In this sense Translated is blazing a trail. The commitment of spending several years on training and hosting guests on board — not to mention the financial investment — make it impossible to adjust or cancel a brand campaign of this magnitude. It’s a bold move, and perhaps bold moves will become the only way to leave an impression. History is pointing that direction, and this may be the right time for B2B providers to consider the future of branding.



Marjolein Groot Nibbelink
Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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