SCOTTISH MURDER MYSTERIES, ARABIC BRANDING AND INTENTIONAL BOREDOM

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TRANSLATING A BRAND INTO ARABIC

Based on the market research I did on the UAE last month, the team at DIJGTAL designed a beautiful new brand targeting the region.

Now in the UAE, English literacy is quite high, but it is less so among the local citizens (called Emiratis), and the locals of the surrounding countries to which we plan to expand. With that in mind, we couldn't just design an English brand experience - we had to consider Arabic speakers too.

TRANSLATING

As it turns out, Google Translate isn't gospel when it comes to making words go from one language to another (surprising). After copious amounts of research and talking to two different translators, I learned that there were essentially five options available to us:

  1. Transliteration - copying the sounds from the English name, regardless of if it means anything in Arabic. Benefit is the brand sounds the same in both languages so it's more universally recognisable.

  2. Translation - changing the English words into Arabic words that mean the same thing, but sound different. Benefit is that the brand has inherent meaning in Arabic, so comes with inbuilt connotations rather than just random noises.

  3. Transcreation - giving the translator creative freedom to explore a completely different brand identity that aligns with the local beliefs, culture and traditions, while maintaining the same tone and intent as the English version.

  4. English name, Arabic tagline - adding a small flavour of Arabic to the English identity, rather than changing it entirely.

  5. Doing shit all - because English is so prevalent over there, a lot of brands just use their English name and logo.

EVALUATING

OK, so now I had my options, but which one was best? The internet couldn't tell me whether there was a right or wrong way to do it, so I decided to take it to the people and get feedback directly from our target market.

The main objectives were:

  • Checking the accuracy of our translations and ensuring they're not unintentionally offensive.

  • Determining which option is preferred.

  • Evaluate the desirability of the brand identity - do they like how it looks?

Time was tight, so rather than doing more interviews, I wrote a survey to get some rapid feedback and released it to a qualitative sample of 55, comprised of 25 local Emiratis, and 5 locals from each of the surrounding countries in the Gulf Cooperative Council (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman).

FINDINGS

  • 75% of respondents said it was important to translate the brand name into Arabic (so didn't waste our money doing this survey, phew).

  • If you exclude respondents from the UAE, this number rises to 80%, illustrating how it is more important in the GCC countries with lower English literacy.

  • For our brand, they preferred option 2, the translated version - different sound but same meaning.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Based on the findings and some additional advice from the translators I spoke to, I've since concluded that transliteration is only the best approach when you've got a brand name with no real meaning - eg. Coca Cola.

  2. When translating into a language you don't speak, check, double check and triple check with experts from different sources and with the target market themselves! Without this input, we would have gone down a completely different path, and ended up with the wrong brand.

  3. Surveys r good. I dunno, I just wanted a third bullet point here for symmetry.


LOOKING FLY AS HELL

I finally convinced my fiancé, Kristina, to cut my hair. She pulled some of the most horrified faces I've ever seen due to the sheer volume of hair, but in the end she actually did a really good job! I also shaved, and the combined effect took about 15 years off so now I look like a beautiful child, albeit one who has never seen sunlight.


REDESIGNING MY WEBSITE

As someone who designs websites for a living, it's always bothered me that my own site has never looked anywhere near the quality of the work I produce for clients. This month, in a burst of procrastinatory motivation spurred on by writers' block, I decided that this had to end - and right away.

I designed and developed it myself over the span of about a week and a half.

My process was as follows:

  • Articulated the objectives of the site (what am I trying to do with it?).

  • Sketched out the core screens on my mini whiteboard (this guy, highly recommended).

  • Moved into Figma and tried a bunch of different fonts, colours and UI styles.

  • Once I'd found a style I was happy with on mobile, I then designed how the layout should adapt to different device sizes.

  • Then it was finally ready to develop. I built on top of the WordPress starter theme Underscores and used bootstrap's grid system. The rest was from scratch.

  • Once I was done, I built in a fun little easter egg for shits and giggles.

For a first release, I'm super happy with how it turned out. Check it out at jackbennett.design.


WATCHING SCOTTISH MURDER MYSTERIES

They say "aye" a lot and I'm here for it.

My favourite so far has to be Broadchurch, which is actually English, but David Tenant's character is Scottish so that's good enough for me. Broadchurch tells the story of a small seaside town that's devastated by the suspicious death of a young boy. I've never seen another show deal with grief quite like this, it's a stunning portrayal buoyed by the combination of clever writing and powerful performances by the whole cast, but particularly by Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan. And yet somehow amidst the heaviness, there's this wonderful thread of humour and friendship. Olivia Coleman has a lot to do with that. She and Tenant make a hilarious duo.

The highly commended award goes to Shetland, which is set in the remote islands of Northern Scotland and follows licensed mad dog DI Jimmy Perez. This one is Scottish to the point where I need subtitles on.

Not Scottish but also amazing was Sharp Objects, based on the book by Gillian Flynn and starring Amy Adams. Small town Missouri setting with a creepy vibe. Muchos recommendo.


FORCING MYSELF TO BE BORED

I was lucky enough to see Neil Gaiman speak in January of 2015. As you'd expect, he was super funny and insightful through the whole talk, but there was one idea in particular that stuck with me, and that is that boredom is good. Boredom is something to aspire to because when you're bored, that's when your imagination really kicks in.

The trouble is, in today's society it's really bloody difficult to let yourself be bored. There's always something to do, some social media to mindlessly scroll through to take up your time achieving nothing. The reason this temptation is so difficult to avoid is that social media has been specifically designed to be triggered by boredom in a pavlovian response. You're not weak by indulging, you're a victim of intentional behavioural design. These companies are hacking your brain chemistry with the same variable reward treatment that sits behind gambling addictions and dog training.

So sometimes, I find it helps to throw one's phone across the room and sit there doing nothing until you either start imagining stuff or fall asleep. Either way, it's good for you.


LISTENING TO WHITE BOY REGGAE

This is the term affectionately coined by my colleagues for one of my favourite musical genres. It's like normal reggae only with angsty anglos, and in my humble opinion it SLAPS.

My favourite artist at the moment (and for the last couple of years) is a band out of San Jose called The Holdup. They've got flavours of hip hop and pop blended in with the reggae upstroke guitar, and their frontman's voice is ridiculously strong. Literally every single song of theirs is catchy as hell, and while some are lyrically dubious, there's something about the rhythm of it all that makes me happy.

My favourite track at the moment is Standing By The Speaker. I'm loving Neighborhood too, particularly for the lyrics.

Unfortunately, The Holdup disbanded last year so the vocalist, Michael Garmany, could pursue a solo career, but his new stuff has basically the same sound as the band did, so that's neat.


COOPER PUPDATE: HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY TO THE DOG

My handsome pooch celebrated his third birthday in style, and why shouldn't he? He's 21 in dog years, so he can do whatever he wants. He could legally drink beer in America if he wanted to.

The day was marked by such festivities as:

  • A big old walk at the Camden equestrian centre, smelling horse poo etc.

  • Playing with a fancy new zebra toy like a fierce lion of the savannah.

  • Being tortured into wearing a party hat, but being rewarded with a yoghurt bone.

It was a disturbing but exciting disruption to the normal routine.


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Thanks for reading!

- Jack