Translating the concept of empowerment in beauty

Empowerment marketing took the world of advertising by storm when, instead of simply pointing out inadequacy to create a need for a product, it showed that we can sell that same product in ways that make us better people and the world a better place.

Most areas of business quickly joined the growing movement and beauty is no exception.  Empowerment-related vocabulary has seeped into the brand communications of many cosmetic companies, at least in English.

Just in the last few months, we’ve had to translate copy for products such as:

  • eye shadows with “empowering shades”, created by makeup artists inspired by a “new generation of empowered women”;
  • hair dryers “packed with hair-empowering design duality”;
  • skincare touting its radical new approach to help “empower the skin”;
  • lip color that promises its wearer to “reveal who she truly is – an empowered girlfriend living a life full of happiness, love & success on her own terms”;
  • and brow enhancers that “empower her to become the woman she was meant to be” …

These are just a few examples of how decisively “empowerment” has become part of the beauty landscape.

Culturally, most languages have yet to adopt a single term for so many different contexts, a single term serving as a beacon of hope, a call to action to take control and surpass one’s own expectations – a push button of sorts that can be used to elicit a sense of feel-good transcendence.

In French, for example, there truly is no easy way to translate the above messages with a single term that would carry the same weight as “empowerment” in English.  Mademoizelle online may be promoting the use of “empouvoirement” but, for now, the term does not have the same rooted presence in the French language.  It is also nearly impossible to apply without raising eyebrows…

What translators are forced to do is resort to paraphrasing, which in and of itself is exactly what they must do.  The one thing they should not do, however, is ignore the importance that this term and this concept hold for American brands.

It can be argued that translating / transcreating beauty copy also requires an equal measure of localization to the target audience, which may or may not harbor the same level of concern for underscoring the possibility for human growth, for a woman’s right to live her life to the fullest and to feel strong and independent.

But as a translator you cannot skip over, blithely ignore or wish this part of the message away – especially when it reflects brand values and identity.  We must remember that exposure to foreign values and new ideas can be enriching and mind-opening even when buying hair gel (and why not?)!

o-ROSIE-THE-RIVETER-570

#beauty20 Awards

We are pleased to share with everyone that one of our clients was named BEST BEAUTY STARTUP online 2018 by #beauty20 Awards.  Congratulations COTARDE!

IMG_2414[1] IMG_2439

The #beauty 2.0 Awards was initiated in 2013 in Paris, followed by events in 2014 & 2015 in New York, London and Los Angeles. The awards are brought to you by INNOCOS events and praising the most ground-breaking innovation in digital marketing by beauty brands.

Mark your calendars for the next INNOCOS event: June 14-15, 2018, INNOCOS World, Grand Hotel Mediterraneo, Florence, Italy!

Human vs Google Translation

A word of caution against Google Translate!

Technology is a beautiful thing and in business it has become a game-changer: countless apps, widgets, programs and systems are now available to business people to make their work easier and more efficient.

Non-translators tend to spontaneously think of Google Translate when relating technology to translation.

Google Translate’s automatic translations may seem useful because they give internet users a general understanding of something written in a foreign language (e.g. when casually scanning the internet for information).

However, Google Translate should never be relied upon to generate meaningful and printable content.  Not even to make what seems like minor changes to a previously translated text.

To illustrate just how badly it can fail us, we’ve used an example of a text readily available from the French language website of the fashion and cosmetics powerhouse Chanel:

french-language-clippingand its English language version translated by a human:

english-language-clipping

We submitted the original French copy of this text to Google Translate and compared the results to the human translation.

google-translate-clipping

It is quite noteworthy to point out that although the text was very short (50 to 75 words), Google Translate produced three completely nonsensical sentences:

  •  “His escalation of tensions” instead of “Facial tension slips away”;
  •  “Her muslin cotton soaked in warm water gently exfoliates and perfect cleaning” for what should have said “Moistened with warm water, its cotton cloth gently exfoliates and removes all traces of makeup”;
  •  The header “Benefits” was translated by “Earnings”.

Of course, the problems do not end there.  We also have:

  •  a sentence missing a verb,
  •  a whole slew of rather awkwardly strung words,
  •  not to mention the fact that the product name (“Essential Comfort Cleanser”) was translated in two different ways (“Supreme Comfort Cleansing” and “Supreme Cleansing Comfort”).

So please, heed our warning: avoid the temptation of turning to Google Translate for any type of translation, no matter how insignificant. If changes are made to a document we have previously translated, we will be happy to go over them and make the necessary adjustments.

MEET OUR CLIENT: BIOEFFECT

barley

Iceland is hot right now, no question about it!  Seems like everyone we know has recently been to or is about to visit the country’s many natural attractions including glaciers, hot springs, wild horses, puffins, and black sand beaches.bioeffect-egf-serum-bottle

We are pleased to announce that we have worked for Bioeffect, a ground-breaking line of Icelandic cosmetics. Why are these products so special?  They are super effective thanks to a powerful skin-rejuvenating ingredient EGF or Epidermal Growth Factor, heralded by scientists as “the future of anti-aging”.

And although there are a handful of other EGF-based products on the market, the Icelandic EGF used by Bioeffect is different in the way it is produced. Exceptionally pure, it is actually grown inside bio-engineered barley plants that thrive in bacteria-free volcanic ash.

In Iceland, the brand sold 330,000 units of EGF SERUM in its first year, back in 2010. An astounding figure for a country with a population of just 320,000, and even more impressive when you consider that 25 per cent of the population is aged under 12. To this day, 30 per cent of women over 30 here use it. But it isn’t just Icelanders who have been convinced.

Please take a minute to watch this video.  Click on CC in the lower right corner of the video to see the subtitling that Beautyterm has done for this video. Enjoy!

 

What Beauty Brand Names Actually Mean

Make a game of it: try to guess what these beauty brand names actually mean.  Not easy!

Benefit

benefit-640x400

This international favorite started out as a small family venture, when American sisters Jean and Jane Ford created a modest beauty boutique in Indiana in 1976. The boutique, called The Face Place continued to get increasingly popular, attracting worldwide attention. It wasn’t until 1990, when the beauty brand was expanding globally that the sisters decided to come up with a new name. Dreamed up on a flight home from Italy, Jane wanted to incorporate the word ‘Bene’ (Italian for good) into the brand’s new title, and so Benefit was born.

Ciaté

Stands for Colour, Innovation, Aspiration, Trend, and Extraordinary. The acronym is a much better fit on a any label!

Clé De Peau Beauté

A brand that originated in Japan in 1982, Clé de Peau Beauté translates as “the key to beautiful skin.”

GHD

This leading haircare brand has probably the most fun name of all: Good Hair Day.

MAC

First established in a Toronto salon, MAC started off as a make-up-artist-only brand and wasn’t launched to the public until 1984, once it had won over models, editors and photographers alike.  Its meaning is simply Make-Up Artist Cosmetics.

Maybelline

Founded in 1913, Maybelline is named after creator Thomas William’s sister. According to the brand, Maybel used to use petroleum jelly on her lashes and brows. Chemist Williams whipped up some carbon dust to mix with the jelly for a darker shade and increased effect.

Nars

nars

This is the namesake of founder François Nars, who launched his brand in 1995 at Barney’s in New York.

Nivea

Initially set up way back in 1890, Nivea’s name is derived from the Latin ‘nix, nivis’, which means ‘white as snow’ and refers to the company’s first major product, the pure white NIVEA Creme.

Nuxe

NUXE was started in 1989 by French entrepreneur Aliza Jabes and is a combination of the words “Nature” and “Luxury”.

NYX

Nyx (pronounced like ‘nicks’) is named after the Greek goddess of night.

Ouai

If you haven’t heard of this brand yet, you will. The hair-care line, developed by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, hits shelves in 2016 — and its name is a bit of a puzzle. But that’s just the way Atkin likes it. “I wanted you to be at a lunch with your friend, and they mispronounce it and you say, ‘No, it’s Ouai,'” Atkin said at the launch event. (Say it with us now: “WAY.”)

The actual meaning? It comes from the French word “ouais,” which is a casual way of saying “yes,” like “yep” or “yup.” Atkin dropped the “s” to make it look Hawaiian, which reflects her island upbringing. Check back with us in January to see images of the new collection.

 L’Oréal

In 1907, L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller created the first hair dye formula which he called L’Auréale after a fashionable hairstyle at the time called L’Auréole meaning ‘halo’. The spelling was later changed to the name we know it as today.

OPI

bs_opi_collection3

This catchy brand name is actually the acronym of: Odontorium Products Inc. Not easy to pronounce, right? The brand was originally a dental-equipment company.

Ren

Ren means clean in Swedish.

Rimmel

Launched in 1834 by Eugene Rimmel, this brand was originally set up as a perfumery although its owner started creating make-up products about a year later.  His exploits included the creation of one of the most popular and useful inventions ever: the mascara.

SEPHORA

A publicist for the brand explains that “Sephora” is a combination of the name “Zipporah,” the wife of Moses in the Book of Exodus who was renowned for her exceptional beauty, and “sephosis,” the Greek term attributed to beauty and vanity.

SK-II

The meaning behind the Japanese cult brand’s name is top secret… literally. It stands for ‘Secret Key’ which is what the skincare line was originally going to be called as the scientists were on a quest to find the ‘secret key’ to crystal clear skin. In their research, they found the answer by surprise.

Stila

This name is a derivative of the Italian word “stilare,” which means “to pen,” then A+ to you, friend.

The name comes from the brand’s ethos: “The right makeup can turn even the simplest look into a statement as authentic as your signature.” This eyeliner’s the perfect example.

Urban Decay

urbandecay

Here’s a fun experiment. Google “Urban Decay” and check out the image results.

No, you won’t find swatches of Half Baked shadow. Instead, you’ll likely see a collection of post-apocalyptic crumbling buildings. That’s because “Urban Decay” is actually defined as “the decay and deterioration of an urban area due to neglect or age.” A little weird for a makeup brand, no?

UD agrees, crediting this crazy (and now wildly famous) name to its cofounder Sandy Lerner’s former husband. “Everyone was saying it had to be named ‘Urban’ something. Sandy’s husband, who’s totally ‘Mr. Computer Scientist’ — they invented the router and started Cisco Systems together — just said one day, ‘Oh, why don’t you call it Urban Decay?‘ and the name just stuck,” says cofounder Wende Zomnir.

Wen

When launching the company, the founder took the word “new,” flipped it backwards, and came up with Wen. Plus, he liked that it sounded like “zen.”

70-0175

Meet our client TATA HARPER!

Crowned the Queen of the Green Skincare Movement by Forbes Magazine, Tata Harper, the Colombian-born founder of her eponymous skincare line, relied on Beautyterm to revamp the brand’s packaging translations.

tata-harper-la-times

Tata and her husband turned a dreamy 1200-acre Vermont farm known as Julius Kingdom into a multinational luxury-beauty business, where they live and work with their 3 children and countless dogs.

Produced exclusively on the farm, which is nestled in the heart of Champlain Valley, the collection is dedicated to toxic-free wellness.  It features many raw ingredients grown in the surrounding fields of lavender and the organic garden.


Beauty and health guru Gwyneth Paltrow described it as “pure, natural luxury”:

“With her chic green-glass jars and pots, Tata Harper set a new bar for glamour within the natural skincare space; she’s also taken authenticity in sourcing to a new level, formulating and growing the majority of the ingredients in her products on a certified organic farm in Vermont.”

tata-products

The case of a geo-specific beauty brand name: necessary or not?

The skincare brand Olay originated in South Africa in the early 1950s.  Invented by an ex-Unilever employee, the original product went by the name of Oil of Olay, chosen as a spin on its key ingredient “lanolin”.  The thick pink liquid was marketed as an anti-aging ‘beauty fluid’ and in the 1970s the range expanded to include other types of skincare products.

In the 1980s, Oil of Olay was acquired by Proctor & Gamble and in 2000 the group decided to take it global.  So the name was modified in each country to sound “pleasing to consumers”: Oil of Ulay (UK and Ireland), Oil of Ulan (Australia) and Oil of Olaz (France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany).

olay-around-the-world

P&G eventually streamlined the brand under a global name, removed the possibly misunderstood word “oil” and eliminated many of the name variations. According to P&G, “the original name no longer fit with what women have come to expect from Olay — a light, greaseless formula.

Today, there’s just “Olaz” (in German-speaking countries) and “Olay” (everywhere else).

Drop us a note, if you’d like to share other similar stories of geo-specific brand names in the field of beauty! We’d love to hear from you!

Translation Quotes Explained: Anthony Burgess

 

 

Anthony Burgess, the prolific British novelist, composer, librettist, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, translator and critic, who is best remembered for his novel “A Clockwork Orange,” once said:

 

“Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.”

What we take away from this is that translation goes far beyond the transfer of meaning (never mind the simplistic idea of “switching” words between languages).  In its broadest form, it involves bridging two cultures; in marketing more specifically, it is about making the corporate culture of a business comprehensible to another, culturally-distinct audience that is different from the brand’s intended, original target.