After more than nine years running Smart Translate without a logo (I used a photo of myself when one was needed), this year I finally took the plunge and had one professionally created by a talented local designer. When you’re a translation company, it can be tempting to opt for a logo based on the country flags of the languages you work with, but I decided to choose something (almost) completely different. Here is my unique new logo and the story behind it.
It features a pictogram of a graceful white bird flying eastwards inside a red quadrilateral. Below is my company name in capital letters, and then my own name. The bird in question is called a white-tailed tropicbird in English, a paille-en-queue (“straw in the tail”) in French, and a payankë (“straw in the a***”) in Reunion Creole. Its Latin name is Phaethon lepturus, with Phaethon meaning “Shining one” while lepturus translates as “slender tail”. There are six subspecies of this fish-eating bird in various parts of the world: the Pacific Ocean, Christmas Island (where a yellow one features on the flag), the Caribbean (where they are Bermuda’s national bird), Ascension Island, Mozambique Channel, and the Indian Ocean. As I live in Reunion Island it’s the last one that is shown on my logo.
A flying white-tailed tropicbird
Why choose a tropicbird? Firstly, I like the general symbolism of birds as bringers of peace and freedom. Secondly, specifically concerning the tropicbird, I appreciate its elegance, ability to perform complex manoeuvres, and love of warm climates (this last point applies to me too, even if the first two don’t!). When you live in Reunion, you often look up and see them flying unobtrusively above, and it seems to me that this is symbolic of the translation profession: our work is present everywhere, but frequently goes unnoticed.
For the shape I could have gone for other straight-lined, four-sided figures such as a square or rectangle, but I decided that the quadrilateral – which reminds me of a kite – was dynamic while being clean and efficient. The font is sans serif, which is refined, modern, and minimal.
In terms of colour, I chose to go with an eye-catching shade of red, as it’s one of my favourite colours and evokes motivation, leadership, and energy. But for contrast I also paired it with white, which represents sophistication, clarity and efficiency, and there’s even a touch of blue (with “TRANSLATE”), as it inspires a sense of security and trust while showing reliability and professionalism. Together, the three colours red, white and blue are a nod to the British and French flags.
I also got my logo printed onto my phone case; here it is being inspected by a curious crab!
On a final note, I’d like to thank the members of Group Translator Chats for their help and advice during the logo selection process!
By the way, if you’re wondering about whether or not to get a logo, here’s a good article by David Miralles Perez about why professional translators need a professional logo.
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