So, first things first: who is Amy Naruse?
I was born in the US to Japanese parents and spent my childhood and teenage years moving between the US, the UK and Japan. Since reaching adulthood, I have added a few more cultures to the mix by living in the UAE and South Africa. I have two names, Amy and Yuuri – this might seem confusing, but it actually helps me transcreate myself between cultures. Amy is outspoken. Yuuri is self-conscious. Amy is casual. Yuuri tries not to stand out so much. Amy hugs. Yuuri bows. With my experience living between cultures, I’m ready to help global companies retain their core values while making a smooth landing in Japan and other APAC countries such as South Korea, China, the Philippines and Vietnam.
And how did you come to join Supertext?
I started playing with language at a young age, mixing and switching between Japanese and English. I quickly learned that simply translating words from one language to the other wasn’t enough: what’s cool or not cool, what’s funny or rude also varies. I worked as an interpreter and translator for about 12 years before being introduced to Supertext in 2016, working first as a freelance linguist and then as a language manager. I’m now Program Manager for APAC with a focus on Japan.
You’re Supertext’s very first Program Manager for APAC. What exactly do you do – and what’s in it for clients?
My job consists of two main tasks. The first is to attract good linguists – I will be expanding the Supertext network in APAC to cover a range of timezones so that we can cater to clients all around the world. The second is to support clients working with APAC languages. I’m excited about advising on larger projects and bringing my cultural expertise to the table.
The initial focus will be on becoming the go-to agency when companies consider expanding to Japan. After that, we aim to make Supertext just as strong for other APAC languages as we already are for European languages.
Supertext has been a success in Europe and the US for years. How does that translate to APAC? What makes these markets different when it comes to creative copywriting and localization?
Cultural differences are much more of a factor in APAC: in Japan, a strong headline can come across as overpowering and overconfident, and a single “!” can make a text sound comical. In a culture that places great importance on “wa” (harmony), being different is not always a positive factor, so if you want to stand out from the rest, you need to know exactly how to do it. Each culture in APAC requires a similarly tailored approach, and we will be tackling them one by one with our super linguists in each region.
How has the APAC market evolved over the last couple of years? What potential do you see for the future?
According to the World Economic Forum, Asia’s GDP is now greater than that of the rest of the world combined. The revenue that APAC languages bring Supertext has grown significantly over the past several years, doubling from 2020 to 2021. We have plenty of clients who see APAC as their next target market but know from experience how difficult it is to find the right tone and style for a new culture. That’s where Supertext comes in.
And why should freelance translators and copywriters sign up?
In short, because Supertext gives them the freedom to be creative. They can accept or reject jobs with a single click on our platform, and it also contains all the information that they need to handle each one, from briefings to reference documents. The Supersystem even creates invoices for them, giving linguists more time to focus on being the super transcreators that they already are.
What’s more, many of Supertext’s project managers and language managers have a background in translation and understand the creative process. They’re here to take the unwanted baggage off freelancers’ shoulders. After all, we’re not aiming to be the cheapest provider out there. Our focus is delivering a super text – every time.
Does that mean that you don’t use machine translation?
Machine translation has come a long way: from clumsy, Yoda-like sentences to accurate texts delivered faster than even the speediest linguist can manage. If the source text is simple enough, a click of a button and a quick post-editing job afterwards could be all you need – and we definitely provide that service. However, machine translation still can’t take cultural differences into account, or consider how best to connect with an audience. For that, you need to inject heart and soul into the translated words. And that’s exactly what Supertext has been doing for years: we were born to free the world from bad copy.
Last but not least, what tips would you give startups and established players looking to expand into APAC?
APAC is a region with many different cultures, so my advice is to be specific about your target audience and to do as much research as possible: consider your target country’s history and religion as well as the current lifestyle and trends. Simply running the same campaign or strategy that you already have in Europe or the US may not give you the same result here. So many global companies don’t spend enough time on this research and end up paying a big price further down the line.
Cover image via Supertext