As LocWorld39 in Kuala Lumpur ends, another
big event in the language industry is waiting to start. Swooshing across the
globe from Asia to Europe, localization professionals will be meeting again at
the end of the month to participate at GALA’s 2019 annual conference, taking
place in Munich March 24-27, 2019.
A jam-packed agenda has been shaping up
with a main focus on the exciting yet still unsettling relationship between
humans and advanced technology in the language business. Is it a friendship or
a battle? Is artificial intelligence friend or foe to our business? These
questions will be explored, as well as topics around project management issues,
managing vendors, and language quality management.
“GALA 2019 Munich is shaping up to be the
largest GALA conference ever. Delegates can look forward to three days of
intense networking and professional development – quite apart from generous
helpings of Weißwurst and Helles,” said Manuela
Noske, Communications Manager at GALA and Women in Localization
For some, the conference will start with
an all-day visit to romantic Neuschwanstein
Castle, located near Munich. Other delegates, such as those from Latin
America and Spanish-speaking markets, Egypt and Arabic-speaking markets,
Sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, and Southeast Asia are encouraged to
participate in a regional development workshop.
Agustina Pioli, Business Development
Manager at Latamways and Women in Localization Social Media Chapter Liaison, is
excited to attend from Argentina.
“I’ll be attending GALA Munich this year and I can’t
wait to see old faces and meet new ones. GALA is a great place to learn about
today’s trends and network! As the Social Media Chapter Liaison, I’ll be
helping out at the Women in Localization booth so make sure you stop by and say
Check out the program here
to find out what names in localization you will see on the roster and when
networking opportunities take place (they are grand, for sure!).
Considering transcreation has been around
for nearly 20 years, there is still considerable ambiguity around its
definition. So, if we can’t agree on a definition, it’s no surprise that defining
the quality of transcreation is even more head spinning.
Measuring translation quality has evolved
with tried and tested metrics to evaluate linguistic accuracy and fluency. More
often than not, these measurement techniques are applied to transcreation when
a different approach may be more beneficial.
Since creativity is at the heart of
transcreation, the standard quality metrics often won’t cut it for measuring
whether the messaging hits the mark or not. Instead, we need to think
differently and combine the measurement of two components – 50% linguistic
quality and 50% content creation quality.
Transcreation is about recreating the
emotional impact and meeting the content objective from one language to
another. Transcreation is not about equivalence of language, it is about the
transfer of a concept. So, we need to look at it like it is a piece of content
created uniquely for each new market.
Like creating content for the first time,
before it comes into being there is a process. Whether a thought leadership
piece or part of a campaign to help promote a new product, the content has an
objective. Similarly, transcreation has a purpose in the local market, e.g.
increase brand awareness or generate new sales leads. As the purpose of the
transcreated content is defined, the next step is to get the most suitable
The Right Talent and Grow With Them
Transcreation requires much more
engagement than translation. Consider the amount of collaboration that will go
into creating source copy, researching the market, understanding the end
consumers, the purpose of the messaging, and the content’s communication
While transcreators don’t necessarily
start with a blank canvas, they still need to understand everything the content
creator knows, e.g. target market, the audience and what the content aims to
do. Then they need to take that information and apply what they know about the
local culture, language, publishing medium and the content objective to make
sure the desired message is communicated.
Transcreators straddle two worlds, the
linguistic world of the translator and the creative world of the copywriter.
Both embody different skills, but these three are probably the most important:
Creative Writing Skills – content is often published with specific criteria in mind, e.g. improving online presence with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), increasing sales with advertising, or building a brand community on social media. Good copywriters can often make great transcreators. They know how to recreate local copy with a purpose and follow layout or media constraints while putting their readers first.
Cultural Understanding – text has a purpose that should be understood by the local target audience. The transcreator has deep linguistic and cultural understanding of both languages, so they can identify and transfer the nuances of the source into the target.
Research Skills – a skill common to both translators and the copywriters, research skills should never be underestimated. Knowledge of the target audience, market, competitors and a thorough understanding of what needs to be achieved is at the heart of transcreation success.
The transcreator may have a source, and they
may have flexibility to move away from it, but without clear guidance on what
direction to take, it’s very easy for them to get lost going down the rabbit
Much like creating content from scratch,
it’s recommended to consider the reason why the content was created in the first
place, why it needs to be transcreated, who will read it and what action should
the local reader take?
Documenting these details in the
transcreation brief, along with the brand values and how the product or brand
should be perceived locally, will help the transcreator understand what they
need to do to meet the communication objectives. For example, content for a
product already established in one market may need a different approach to break
into a new market. Without this guidance, the transcreator has no choice but to
work with what they have – the source. If they only have the source, the
chances are the end result will look more like a translation, or won’t persuade
the local reader to take the desired action – nobody wins.
A transcreation brief is key for defining
quality guidelines. But open collaboration is the pièce de résistance to
meeting those guidelines. For translation buyers the general process is submit
the source, maybe answer a few queries and receive the completed translation –
voilà job done, no extra collaboration required. But transcreation is a
translation-creative hybrid that often requires collaborative feedback from the
client before the text to be ready for publishing.
Most transcreated copy can be quality
checked pre-publishing with tools to measure readability, this can be as simple
as using the proofing tools in Microsoft office to check readability or for use
of passive voice. If the transcreated copy is for online use, it’s a good idea
review the content to make sure it follows Google’s
best practices for local SEO.
But post-publishing measurement requires
collaboration and depends on the marketing objectives of the content, whether it
is lead nurturing, driving customer engagement, brand awareness or increasing
conversions and sales. In an ideal scenario, transcreation should be tested
with pre-publishing checks, and also validated and tweaked post-publishing
against metrics based on the content objective for each market.
The overall success of transcreation all
comes back to the communication strategy for each language and what the content
should achieve. Once defined, this lays a solid foundation for the transcreator
to build out the local copy. They know what they need to achieve and they use
their linguistic skills, cultural understanding and research to make it happen.
Happy International Women’s Dayto the AWESOME women around! It’s time to embrace the women power and leaning in together!
This is the year of “Balance for Better”. Excellence does not differentiate between genders rather it recognizes talent and taking it to the next level. In today’s times’ workplace gender equality can only be achieved where employees are able to get similar rewards, opportunities for similar roles, equal pay, equal recognition regardless of gender. Each time you add a new employee to your team, you are bringing in a new perspective to the entire group. As much as globalization is important to take your business to the next level, gender balance is equally important to make your business thrive not only in terms of revenue but also for skilled employees.
Gender Diversity: During my high school and college days, girls were in a severe minority while learning Math and Computer Science. I had no idea about what it means to even have gender diversity. It all started when the reality hit at the workplace being the only woman in the room. I felt the roots of gender diversity needs to be deeply rooted in those classrooms to create a more collaborative and rewarding experience.
Diverse Workforce: Companies with diverse workforces are able to assess and evaluate the global and local consumer market much better than the ones with no or less diversity. Locals from a certain place can help in providing awareness around culture, marketplace and local talent. There is a deep connection between innovation and diversity and inclusion. Women in Localizationis one of those awesome organizations that has diversified members worldwide who bring in their collective intelligence every day to support women across the world. This organization has also been highly successful around their contributions towards building globalized and localized products to boost the economy of the world.
Opportunity of Localization:Having a diverse workforce under your belt creates an opportunity to create localized products that can be launched in this globalized economy, thus increasing customer footprint and revenue. The localized view of products helps us immerse the culture, language, actions and beliefs into the products. In today’s economy blending technology with humanity has become a must for impactful products. These teams make the business much better, entice your customers, clients and have the entire community to be with you. Cloud is the new venue for products to thrive. Having a localized view of the products in the Cloud so that various countries can leverage is a huge opportunity where a diversified workforce including gender diversity can take it to the next level.
Congenial and Innovative work environment:Everyone loves to work at a place where they and their skills are being valued and respected by their management and co-workers. People come from different backgrounds and bring in a lot of cultural values and learnings. Women in Localizationhas given me this platform to succeed.
Stronger and better communication: This has been an ongoing battle around what are the ethics of communication for women vs. men. In my view, both genders should be allowed to express their ideas, needs, concerns in an open and a positive way. As much as communication is important, conflict resolution is equally important. Data has proven that men tend to command physical presence and always are cognizant of their authority and power. They tend to be direct and sometimes it comes across blunt and overconfident. Likewise, women tend to display empathy, being emotional, skillful at reading body language and possess good listening skills.
Being a woman, I would say Be Assertive and don’t let emotions drag you down. Stay standing and speak up for yourself so that everyone understands how you need to be treated.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success.” –Henry Ford. Balance for Better will definitely lead to success in personal and professional lives.
Pressure caused by the ever-increasing need for faster, more efficient and more accurate communication is pushing tech writing professionals to reinvent their work. When it comes to versatile writing and international communication, Andrew Owenhas really seen it all. His career as a journalist, sailor and a tech writer (since 2006) has carried him from misty London and Dublin to New York, Sydney, Auckland and Wellington and from large international tech corporations to start-ups. Despite being busy with a new project in Dublin, Andrew arranged time for an interview and shared the following “top tips” about recent trends in the field.
When in comes to localization, tech writing as a profession is international by nature, so national standards do not differ much. The UK however, is a special case due to its large domestic software market. Companies that mainly operate in UK market tend to prefer Cambridge English, while most of the tech writing world uses American English. Some writers can also mistake Oxford English (-ize endings) for American English. “Use American English and pick a dictionary,”recommendedAndrew, who prefers Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate dictionary.
While based in London, Andrew wrote documentation that was translated for the Japanese market, and he advises writers to keep in mind cultural sensitivity, keeping sentences short, avoiding colloquialisms, and having a terminology list and sticking to it.
“I always write for translation. Even if the content is never translated, it makes it more accessible to readers who do not have English as a first language,” Andrew said.
National standards might not vary much, but different industries have different needs and therefore it is hard to define a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Despite this there are still factors to consider when choosing a communication guideline for your organization. The following table summarizes the pros and cons between the two major schools of thought, the AP Stylebookand the Chicago Manual of Style.
The “inverted pyramid”, a journalistic way of organizing content, is often preferred, while the Chicago Manual of Style still seems to be the most commonly adopted guidelines. At the same time, agile development environments where documents need to be pushed out faster are calling for lighter structures and practices. Or as Andrew said, “…agile values working code over docs, users value docs over no docs.”
Andrew didn’t want to cite either of the manuals as the “ultimate bible”, but he did offer the following “rules of thumb” as a general guide for colleagues overseas.
For software docs, use Microsoft Style as the basis of your style guide and adapt it to your needs.
Choose a style reference, be it AP or Chicago.
Create a style document that notes only where your style differs from these reference works.
Remember that it is only a guide, and use your judgment on when to break the rules.
If you adhere to the contradictory advice in Strunk & White, seek professional help.
As frustrating as it may sound, there are no simple solutions for multidimensional problems. But the tech writing profession is about to go through some major changes in the near future, and these changes will hopefully create some coherence.
“I think we’re going to abandon ways of working that haven’t changed much in thirty years and all go over to the docs-as-code model where we work in the same repositories as developers, writing in markdown, and doc publication is almost entirely automated,” Andrew said.
We are looking forward to seeing the evolution of the tech writing profession. One thing is for sure, every organization has some improvements to make when it comes to communication practices, and therefore there will always be a need for innovative approaches and great communicators.
With Spring just around the corner (here’s me being wildly optimistic about the British weather…), my thoughts turned to what exciting things will be happening in our industry and others where women are excelling and moving up in their roles, careers and life aspirations. Will you be celebrating those special friends in your life who go out of their way to help others succeed? What about those colleagues who quietly keep their head down at work but do an amazing job and never draw attention to themselves? Or perhaps you yourself have excelled in something over the past year. We should take pride in celebrating the achievements of our fellow female friends.
How much do you know about International Women’s Day? A “National Women’s Day” was first held in New York in 1909, organized by the Socialist Party of America. Similar meetings developed elsewhere and in March 1911, IWD was marked for the first time by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. This was of course around the same time that momentum was rapidly building to demand that women were given the right to vote. On March 8, 1914, Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square and the rest, as they say, is history. Women were given the right to vote a few years later because of the risks those ladies took, and this laid the foundations for future generations to strive for gender equality.
These days, IWD is celebrated more and more to encourage not only gender equality but also to help build a more balanced world. Why is it that even today – although things are definitely improving – girls are often still taught to avoid risk, play it safe and study hard at school? Boys, on the other hand, are often encouraged to take risks, and go for those opportunities that may seem out of reach. By the time they reach adulthood, boys are already comfortable taking risks to go for those things they want, like asking for that pay rise and being confident about it. Girls often outperform boys at school, and yet how they approach challenges is quite different. Boys grow into men who will have no qualms about applying for a job where they only meet half the specified criteria. Whereas women will most often only apply for a role where they meet 100% of the criteria. Does this attitude apply all the way up to the C-suite in corporations, and partly explain why there are so few women at these top levels? Of course it does. And to change things, it has to start in childhood. Bringing up our girls to be courageous and go for their ambitions, just as much as boys, instead of stepping aside and missing out on opportunities that could easily be theirs.
To tie this celebration of women’s achievements in with our own organization, I must offer big congratulations to Loy Searle, who accepted the post of President of Women in Localization this month. Every organization needs a strong leader, and we are blessed with a whole team of them! Presidents of W.L. take their post for a one-year term, giving others the chance to take their advice and guidance and to provide fresh insight on a range of topics. The organization continues to mentor new leaders who have the potential to ensure that we continue to grow and attract more talented individuals. These steps must be taken forward for women to not only have mentors in the business world (that were so freely available to men historically) and to become mentors themselves. With leadership like this we can look forward to healthy growth of the organization in 2019.
Anna Schlegel summed up the attitude (and outstanding results!) of a team of hard-working W.L. members over the last 12 months – something more to celebrate in combination with International Women’s Day. In 2018 alone, our members organized and held 64 innovation sessions. Wow! Talk about inspiring others to get involved, join in and move on up. What was impressive was not so much how these ladies plan and fit events like these into their already hectic diaries, but the topics that were covered highlighted the many sides of the localization industry, such as technology, mentoring and engineering. These subjects in particular were all previously the domain of the male half of the population, but look now at how many young girls are learning to code and choosing to take up STEM subjects.
IWD is not only about celebrating the women of the past, whose courage and risk taking led us to attaining the vote; or the women of today who are confidently pushing up through that glass ceiling. But most importantly, it is about encouraging those girls who will be tomorrow’s leaders to take those risks and have the ambition to succeed and to achieve. Eventually, gender equality and global acceptance across diversity will make for a much better world for us all.
The International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme is #BalanceforBetterand there are many ways to celebrate this special date to mark women’s achievements over the past 100 years right up to the present day. You can find out more about the events taking place and plan your own events, by visiting the dedicated site: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/IWD2019
Anyone who has studied a second language understands how challenging it can be to master spoken sounds in other languages. Even after a person has become fluent, they may have a pronounced accent that requires the listener to strain to understand what is being said.
“If something has to be repeated more than twice, it is likely that the listener is no longer engaged, and the vital human connection that is part of all fluid conversation has been broken,” said Veronica Adamson, Director at Accent Coach ESL, who works with professionals at multinational companies to improve English pronunciation and reduce accents for improved communication.
“The mission of Accent Coach ESL is to have yourself and others ‘love to hear you speak’,” Adamson said. “When we enjoy the sound of someone’s voice, we comprehend what they’re saying and are able to share confidently on topics of mutual interest. We connect! An accent coach is a connection coach, and our medium is speech.”
Clients gain more than just better English pronunciation, experiencing increased cultural awareness and greater confidence overall. This expression of personal power and effectiveness facilitates improved cross-cultural collaboration and performance in the workplace.
While international migration has increased greatly in the last 30 years, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, the need for an accent coach is becoming more and more common in today’s globalized world.
“Many people from China, Russia, India, Latin America and Europe have found great success coming to the rich job market of Silicon Valley. It’s a region of great opportunity, and my goal is to make sure that these opportunities are maximized for everyone, regardless of their country of origin,” said Adamson.
Educated in mechanical and civil engineering, Adamson’s path to becoming an accent coach was not obvious.
“Throughout my life and education, music was always a large influence,” Adamson said. “During an engineering internship in Berlin I discovered that my love of vocal music helped in mastering the sounds, tones and rhythms used by the German speakers around me. Though I had studied German for only six months before heading to Berlin from Stanford, I found that I was easily understood and included in the lives of my German friends and co-workers. I was delighted to be accepted and share in their rich culture through the bridge of language.”
Accent Coach ESL strives to achieve early and enduring conformance to a standard accent regardless of the client’s native language. This is achieved by helping clients develop a new mindset and understanding about the purpose of speech. Learning is customized, focused on the client’s specific industry, and provides documented results through quantitative progress metrics and a measurable ROI.
When hiring an accent coach, Adamson stresses that it is critical that the goals of the instructor match those of the student.
“Most of my clients possess higher degrees, Master’s and PhDs,” Adamson said. “Their intelligence has already been proven many times over. My focus is not to make them earn an additional degree in phonetic alphabet or the theory of language and translation. Rather, my goal is to help them achieve the best and most dramatic results quickly. In this way, my students master the sounds, tones and rhythms of speech within the first two to three weeks of working with me.”
Adamson cannot help but be proud when she hears how Accent Coach ESL has changed the lives of her clients.
“Two of my clients received significant promotions with larger international responsibility. Both stated that the progress made during our accent coaching sessions made a major difference in personal performance and confidence when speaking English,” Adamson said. “Another client received feedback from a colleague that she had made ‘surprisingly good improvement’ in speaking English ‘in a short amount of time’. This same person also reported a greater sense of confidence when sharing complex ideas in English.”
Adamson stresses that strong localization groups benefit from the talents of individuals with diverse language backgrounds.
“I often tell my friends in localization that I help humans to localize! In order for a localization team to work well together, there must be a common language through which information is shared,” Adamson said. “When we speak in a way that is familiar to the listener, we’re able to communicate and connect.”
“I do not like this line of work, I love, L-O-V-E this work,” Adamson said. “If you have ever taught someone to ride a bike, or to fish, or to drive a car – any learned skill – you know the joy and satisfaction that comes from seeing your student progress and excel. The work that I do dramatically improves career paths and companies. It allows someone who may have been marginalized to a lower management or technical role to take their rightful place in an upper management position, if they so desire. This greatly impacts the individual and the companies they serve since the ability to promote from within is one of the greatest strengths of any global company.”
It will be nearly impossible not to catch a Women in Localization (W.L.) member speaking at LocWorld 39 in Kuala Lumpur. Out of the 25 panels and presentations taking place on February 27 and 28, six of them will include someone representing W.L.
Members of the organization, which strives to build a global community for the advancement of women and the localization industry, include the following LocWorld39 speakers and panelists:
This will be LocWorld’s first time hosting an event in Malaysia, having previously hosted in China, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore, within the Asia-Pacific region.
“Asia-Pacific (APAC) is a fascinating region comprised of many unique and diversified economic environments. Over the last decade, APAC has seen high economic growth rates exceeding those in other regions. In the next decade, it is poised to continue to enjoy the highest growth rates in the world. I am excited to exchange ideas, inspirations and solutions with everyone at LocWorld Kuala Lumpur this February!” said Tsai.
In addition to attending the sessions above, make sure to visit the W.L. booth at any time during the conference.
Recently, a survey of Fortune 500 companies showed that companies with a higher percentage of women managers have better financial performance than companies with a lower percentage. This also holds true for industries such as technology and the Internet.
On December 6th, 2018 Women in Localization Beijing Chapter held their third salon event in the headquarters of Beyondsoft. Three female managers were invited to this event, giving talks on the topics of localization, language service, and career leadership. Although it was freezing cold outside of the room, participants showed great enthusiasm for this sharing.
The first speaker was Mimi Hills, Director of Global Information Experience at VMware, where she manages both localization and technical publication teams. Ms. Hills is experienced and well-known in the localization industry. She gave a presentation called “How to Make Personal Branding Work for You in Localization”. In her talk, Ms. Hills mentioned that everyone has his/her own personal brand, which is a demonstration of his/her experience and skills. An effective personal brand will make a person stand out both in life and work. Therefore, we should value the establishment and maintenance of the personal brand. Ms. Hill’s speech was refreshing and inspirational, which attracted attention from all participants and provoked deep thinking.
The second speaker was Jie Han, Vice President of Beyondsoft, who shared her work experience with the guests. She said candid and frank communication plays a vital role in the work relationship with your managers, coworkers or subordinates. Ms. Jie encouraged everyone to think constantly, learn continuously and reflect frequently at work as this is the practice she has been sticking to over the years. Also, she sets no boundaries for her career and always expects changes and new challenges at work. Her humorous speaking style lightened the atmosphere and filled the room with laughter and applause.
The third speaker was Jinfeng Zheng, deputy managing director of RWS China. She gave a talk about language services for the intellectual property industry. During her talk, Ms. Zheng presented a systematic introduction for the intellectual property industry, explaining its development process in China and the application of language services in this field. Her well-paced and elaborate sharing was very beneficial to the guests.
This salon event attracted many guests who are interested in the localization industry and career development. They exchanged ideas, shared best practices and enhanced communication and collaboration, making this event more meaningful in promoting leadership and innovation.
Subtitling is the process of translating spoken dialogue into written text on the screen. It is a type of audiovisual translation, with its own set of rules and guidelines. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the first movie to be subtitled in the year 1903. In those days subtitles were known as intertitles. But after the introduction of sound in movies, the first showing of a subtitled movie was in the year 1929, The Jazz Singer with French subtitles. Since then, developments in technology have changed the way subtitles are created and presented on screen.
A Subtitler is the linguistic specialist, who translates dialogue into a target language while keeping the meaning and context intact. As Robert Gray, a translator from Montreal says, “The eye reads slower than the ear hears”; so, while translating, the subtitler must condense the dialogue spoken on screen.
Subtitles are the captions displayed at the bottom of the screen, translated into a target language. They appear and vanish on the screen as the dialogue does. It is considered very poor subtitling if the subtitle trails behind even when the shot has changed. Based on the reading speed of humans, we have character limits set for subtitles, which can vary from 35 to 42 characters per line.
SIGNIFICANCE OF SUBTITLING
But the question arises, why do we need subtitles? What is the significance of subtitling? The following points shed some light on the topic:
SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of hearing) are vital for people who are deaf and struggle with hearing. Subtitles provide them with access to important information as well as means of entertainment.
Subtitles are used for movies and TV shows, so that a wider audience can appreciate and enjoy them. Speakers of other languages can enjoy movies and shows on Netflix and Amazon, only because they are subtitled in their languages. Viewers can understand the dialogue and relate to it better in their own language.
Sometimes, a movie or TV show may have some dialogue in a foreign language. e.g., the Brad Pitt movie Seven Years in Tibet had a few conversations in Hindi and Tibetan. Subtitling such movies can help the viewer understand the context better.
Subtitling can help in comprehension. More than 60% of YouTube viewers are non-native English speakers. They cannot understand phrases like raining cats and dogs, first base, fell off the wagon, take a rain check, break a leg, etc. Most of them might take their literal meanings. But if the YouTube videos have subtitles, they can be understood better.
(Subtitles in Hindi)
Subtitles are not just limited to movies and TV shows any longer. They can be found on all sorts of audiovisual media. Khan Academy videos for learners are subtitled in various languages. Documentaries, entertainment and cooking shows on YouTube have subtitles. TED Talks are subtitled in over a hundred languages. User manual guide videos are being subtitled. Subtitles help us in improving our comprehension, building our vocabulary and increasing the popularity of media all over the world. Hence, we see that subtitling has a very significant role to play in today’s world.
Traditions in the food and beverage industry can be traced back hundreds of years, but unlike the common perception might suggest, long traditions are not stopping innovation. As Tua Björklund and her colleagues from Aalto Design Factory pointed out in their “Design Bites” study, there are many lessons we could learn from food start-ups.
“The main motivation for our study was to accumulate knowledge so that we could educate and better train product development professionals and support product development and innovation in the food industry.” Tua Björklund, 2018
According to Tua, storytelling and the use of social media was much more present in this study in comparison to earlier studies that were conducted among tech start-ups. Another major difference was in product testing. While tech start-ups seem to focus strongly on the end user, large investors and partners, food start-ups were very actively participating in co-creation with various communities and design partners such as design houses (e.g. IvanaHelsinki), showrooms, bartenders and restaurants. What the tech and food industry have in common is the importance of professional networks. Outside experts are often brought in to both groups to solve design problems such as creating a unique payment system or better miscible food mass.
Food start-ups that identify themselves as “premium brands” perceived design as one of the cornerstones of their business, and therefore design challenges such as packaging were approached with extra caution and attention. In summary, standing out and conveying quality were two topics identified as the fundamental challenges.
Internationalization introduced surprising communication and design obstacles. For example, differing associations with terms like organic or wild and local consumers’ limited knowledge about an ingredient presented challenges and so demanded clearer communication. As a result, some companies added additional labelling or went as far as renaming their business for international markets.
When it comes to understanding local customers and the market, approaches varied greatly. Some companies relied on personal networking and test campaigns, where others relied on local partners. Several companies also used airports and airlines as global brand ambassadors to spread Finnish/Nordic/Arctic branded products to new markets or received support from local brand ambassadors and government networks (e.g. Food from Finland). Effective use of social media not only increased brand awareness but also yielded valuable leads from the B2B sector.
In summary, understanding foreign markets and adjusting current products to different regions and cultures were identified as key challenges for internationalization. Targeted marketing (vs. organic pull), entering Asian markets and making a cultural impact were most commonly mentioned opportunities amongst the sample group.
One interesting notion from this study is the often-cited lack of targeted support, accelerator programs and other knowledge sharing networks. An enlightened reader could draw the conclusion that the food start-ups have been trying to create accelerator type cooperation themselves, but there is still plenty of room for development. Who will sign up for creating the very first Nordic Food Tech accelerator? I hope we will hear the news soon.