For our latest Freedman Talks interview, we sat down with our Creative Adaptation and Translation (CAT) Implementation Manager, Erica Guo. Erica chatted about her work at Freedman, telling us all about how the CAT Team came to be and why words really do matter when it comes to taking brand messaging across the globe…
Hi Erica! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up working at Freedman?
I’m originally from Beijing – that’s where I did my Bachelors in Translation and Interpreting. Then I came to the UK for a Masters in Translation Studies in Durham. After that, I decided it was time to go to London for the city experience. Initially I was looking for an internship to get a flavour of professional life in language and business, to understand what was happening behind the scenes – looking at client’s needs and how linguistic skills help overcome modern business challenges. I found the global marketing industry first and then I found Freedman.
So, what’s your role at Freedman?
When I started at Freedman I was an intern, mostly maintaining our Translation Management System tool by doing the day-to-day troubleshooting. Back then, Freedman was in a transformation period, it wanted to have more control over the quality of translation and transcreation… that’s how the CAT Team came to be. We started as a tiny team – I was the first permanent member – and then we just grew and grew into a department. Now my title is CAT Implementation Manager.
As someone who’s been a team-member from the beginning – and seen it all! – what’s the role of the CAT Team?
There’s a million ways to translate one word, and different versions express different meanings in a different way – that’s where the CAT Team comes in. We’re not just guarding how right the language is, that’s very basic, we bring the brand’s identity to life in a foreign territory.
Take the word ‘friend’ – you could also say ‘pal’, ‘buddy’ or ‘mate’ depending on the register or the tone. At Freedman we really want to get that tone right. And it is a challenging task, as different cultures have different ways of being ‘friendly’.
For example, word choice was really important during our work with cosmetics brand Jurlique. They’re a pretty premium brand but they wanted to sound more human without affecting their proposition. However, in China, using too much of the personal pronoun ‘we’ makes the tone too intimate, so we advised using the brand name ‘Jurlique’ instead of ‘we’ in that market.
Clearly you’re all very busy! Does technology play a big part in the CAT Team to help speed up processes?
Absolutely. We see technology as a very important pillar of localisation practice. As Implementation Manager, I’m working really closely with our Localisation Engineer to see what’s new with our Translation Management System and in the industry as well. More and more automation is happening in the industry, and we are exploring to see how we can apply them to our work at Freedman.
Aside from exploring new tech, can you tell us about an exciting project that you’re working on at the moment?
Yes, we’ve also been working on new services, like localising paid search copy. From a translation perspective, if you see paid search copy it seems really straightforward – sometimes, it’s literally ‘20% off’, ‘Free Shipment’ etc. – but the thinking behind it is interesting. The challenge of paid search is not about words or creativity – it’s not about rhyme, alliteration or puns – it’s about the keywords you’re using, the organisation of your message and how it works with search engine algorithms in local markets. It’s about understanding the brand’s product or service, users’ searching behaviour in your market, and then use this knowledge to improve click-through rate or conversion rate. It goes beyond words and character limitations.
The CAT Team seems to play a vital role throughout brand comms, from rebranding to specific paid search copy. In your opinion, what is it that makes the CAT Team so important?
As an agency, we’ve gone beyond translation and transcreation now. Our services have evolved and diversified to meet client’s needs in various verticals. Apart from this, there’s also technology, vendor partnership and different ways of working. The localisation area is very dynamic. The CAT Team at Freedman is where all those things come into play. It’s a hub of knowledge.
On a lighter note, what’s your favourite thing about working at Freedman?
My work is always different, there’s always something new to learn and explore which is really great for me!
If you’d like to know more about our CAT Team and how they can help take your brand global, don’t hesitate to get in touch!