If the secret to love is communication…

… can the same be said for sales and marketing?

If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked for the secret to a happy relationship, I would have enough money to treat my wife to a meal deal this Valentine’s Day. Ok, so I’m not much of a love guru, but with the romantic day just around the corner I still thought I’d share my top tip with a few more people, if not just to improve her chances of a romantic candle lit dinner for two.

Communication is key to a long and successful relationship. During my 6 years of marriage, if I’ve learned one thing (and my wife can confirm that I have) it’s that you’ve got to speak and understand your partner’s language. Whether that’s spoken, written, or body language, all forms of communication can help you express positive and negative ideas and feelings in an open, honest and direct way that your partner will not only understand, but will also respect, helping you stay out of trouble and in your partner’s good books for as long as possible.

The same could also be said for marketing communications.

Where most “sales and marketing gurus” usually trip up is not taking the time to understand their customers’ language; talking to them as if they were just any customer without understanding their needs and what makes them special. This approach could get you into a lot of trouble, especially when there is a language barrier. But luckily for you, SDL Managed Translation is here with its 15,000-plus in-country translation gurus that will help you express your message in an open, honest and direct way, to ensure you always stay in your customer’s good books.

To get you on your way to a loving customer relationship, here’s 10% off your first translation project with SDL Managed Translation. Simply sign up for free, submit your translation project and enter the below code when prompted to receive your discount.

Discount code: LOVE-LANGUAGE-10

Consider yourself a bit of a love guru? Then why not take our fun and interactive Valentine’s Day quiz and learn some interesting global facts about love, and maybe even impress your partner with them.

Can you guess the answers to these global Valentines’ Day traditions? Play now and challenge your friends!

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‘Translation’ vs. Marketing Localization

Fine-tuning your approach to creating content for a foreign market is a significant task and will likely entail a considerable outlay of time and money. Regardless of the rationale and justification for operating in multiple locales, most of the time the end goal is to grow the customer base, and ultimately profits. In order to achieve this though, it is imperative to know how to adapt messaging and content for different cultures. You need to be “culturally relevant”.

Ignorance of cultural differences within your content can result in poor uptake, even reputation damage. There are also occasions you could end up in hot water legally. Ultimately, not considering the cultural differences within your content, on your websites and even on support and technical documentation can lead to outright failure and lack of customer retention.

History is littered with examples of companies of all sizes making cultural blunders when launching in new markets.

The first example is one showing how language needs to be localized, not just translated. The story was originally told to me when I moved into the language industry as a prime example of when translation is done badly. A certain large drinks brand had decided to grow into China, they launched with a great slogan (or so they thought!) “brings you back to life.” However when this was translated, it became “brings your ancestors back from the grave.” For the brand in question, this was a huge mistake, especially as they were trying to develop the brand on a global level.

A second example of how some content / campaigns just do not work for certain international markets. A very large, global consumer goods brand made a blunder which caused great offense in Japan. It was decided they would re-use a television advert in Japan that was popular in Europe. The advert in question showed a woman bathing, her husband entering the bathroom and touching her. No biggie right? Wrong. The Japanese market that the advert was aired to considered this an invasion of privacy, inappropriate behavior and ultimately in very poor taste.

The last is possibly my favorite example of how a great product/idea can ultimately fail just because local culture is not considered. Let me set the scene: it’s the 90’s, home computers are becoming increasingly popular. A certain large Japanese electronics company are way ahead of the times and is about to launch a touch screen, home computer. It was decided that the Japanese company wanted to push the new product in the US, using a famous American woodpecker, called Woody (he was a big deal Japan at the time apparently). The company did a minuscule amount of research, and proudly christened their latest device, “The Woody”. So what? Well, as I’m sure some of you will already be aware, “wood” is American slang for something a little inappropriate… oh well? Well it gets better! To distinguish their product from the competition, it was decided to name the touch-screen feature on the computer “Touch Woody “… Oh and then just to cap it off, the launch campaign slogan was to be “Touch Woody – the internet Pecker” … The long and short of it? It was not until the day before the ads were set to launch, that a member of their American team informed them of the sexual slang connotations. The lack of cultural awareness meant the innovative product was a failure. The campaign is now infamous, and it is actually studied by marketers.

With the growing pressure for companies to “go global”, it’s easy to see why local culture is still incredibly important and has to be considered when creating content for international markets. As highlighted above, many international companies have had glitches with expanding their brands worldwide because they haven’t put in the necessary research and effort when launching in a new market. It is absolutely imperative companies are aware of the potential implications that could come from using a translation of a certain piece of copy, or what a certain visual, image or slogan, could mean within a new market or culture.

Want to know more about the SDL approach to marketing localization? Check out SDL Managed Translation


Location of the Week: Malta

Malta’s Language and History – “Merħba, ħabib!” Hello, friend!

It may sound like it but Malta is not located in the Middle East. Although it’s not far from the Arabic-speaking Maghreb, this small island archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea has a rich cultural history dating back to the Stone Age. It’s no wonder then that it has the highest concentration of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world. Aside from the great weather and beaches, tourists flock to Malta for the prehistorical temples – including the only known prehistoric underground temple in the world – and the medieval city of Valletta, Malta’s capital and the first planned city in Europe.

Balconies in Valletta
Balconies in Valletta, Malta’s Capital








The Maltese language (Malti) and the island’s culture, is closely tied to the Arabic conquests of southern Europe in the 800s. But the island’s history also owes a lot to its proximity to the Italian island of Sicily, where the ancestors of Malta’s modern inhabitants originate. As a result, the language is mostly influenced by Arabic, Sicilian, a bit of French, and, due to more recent history, English. It is, however, the only official Semitic language in the EU as well as the only one written in the Latin alphabet.

Food in Malta – “Ghandi l-guh!” I’m hungry!

Thanks to the island’s multi-ethnic cultural background, there’s something for every taste. But the national dish is quite special, and deceptively simple. Fenkata, a rich rabbit stew, uses every part of the rabbit except for the hop.  It is served in two courses, starting with a spaghetti ragout, followed by the hearty stew with potatoes. The Maltese like to make big and loud social gathering out of it – not unlike Valencians and paella – which is why it’s special and maybe not all that simple.

Fenkata rabbit stew from Malta - Image by Bellyfirst
Maltese Fenkata rabbit stew – Image by Bellyfirst

There are other popular local dishes,  of course: bigilla, a savoury bean spread, zalzett, the small, coriander flavoured sausages, minestra, which, you may have guessed, is the Maltese version of Italy’s minestrone soup, and the omnipresent pastizzi pastries

Pastizzi from Malta
Pastizzi from Malta – Image by

With all this fine Mediterranean food, the important words to know are, “L-Ikla it-tajba” (‘Bon Apetit’) and “Grazzi!” (‘Thank you’).

Now that we’ve added Maltese on, you can start translating between English and Maltese text and documents right away. If you want to learn more about Malta, or the Maltese language, the internet is a great place to start, but if you really want to get to know Malta, book a trip to this stunning place and meet its people.


Location of the week: Baylands Nature Preserve, Palo Alto

The Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve is the largest marshland in the San Francisco Bay encompassing 1,940 acres in the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto area. It is home to various species of migratory birds and as such it is considered as one of the best bird-watching locations on the West Coast. Birdwatchers from around the world are brought together during wintertime to observe birds migrating on the Pacific route; since the site serves as their stopover. Numerous other species of plants and animals inhabit the preserve which makes it the perfect location for the naturalists.

The Baylands Nature Preserve trails are great for cycling, walking and running; and the site offers windsurfing and boating facilities. The city of Palo Alto also offers many activities such as nature, ecology and history walks, horseback riding and fishing.

Are you attending #SDLConnect16? Then why not make some time and have a walk around this beautiful preserve.

Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve

Location of the week: Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve

The Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve and national park is a stunning valley located in the north of the Sichuan province in China.

Jiuzhaigou means the “Valley of the nine villages,” although only seven of them are still populated today. Due to the protected nature of the site, locals rely heavily on tourism as their main source of income. This mystical scenic area is covered by virgin mixed forests, waterfalls, a large number of lake groups and a variety of plants and fauna. UNESCO recognized the Valley as a World Heritage Site in 1992, but some locals consider those scenic spots as holy.

Today, the number of visitors is increasing rapidly as the location not only provides the view of captivating landscapes, but also an opportunity to get a closer look at how the locals live. Definitely a lifestyle and a virgin landscape that big cities have been missing.