Hidden Localization Lessons at IKEA

What in the world did we do for inexpensive, “high”-design, build-it-yourself furniture before IKEA?

Before 1985, when IKEA opened their first store in the States, dorm rooms everywhere were littered with “bookshelves” made out of planks of wood and concrete blocks. Now, instead of going to the lumber yard, millions head to IKEA to for flat-packed everything — kitchen cabinets, desks, sheet sets, lamps, glasses, decorations, and yes, even pet beds.

IKEA is in nearly 40 countries; they are the true masters of product naming, multilingual packaging, and labeling and pictorial instructions.

Product Names

Need a toilet roll holder? Why not the MOLGER ($2.99 in wood) or the GRUNDTAL ($4.99 in stainless steel)? Sometimes, a name (and note they are always one word) will also be a series – so the MOLGER series also includes a plethora of other items for the bathroom such as a step stool, soap dish, shelving unit, or a mirrored hook rack.

Q&A: What is SEM localization?

April 5, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, Website Translation Services, Localization Tips, Q&A

Search engine marketing (SEM) localization is the process of targeting customers in international question markmarkets by ranking well in search engine results, generating traffic, and converting visitors to actual leads and sales. 

Many people have problems differentiating between SEO, PPC, and SEM. (So many acronyms!)

SEO is search engine optimization, and is often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "unpaid" search. In the localization world, SEO means translating your metatags, descriptions, alt tags, URLs, and other language-based information into the target language.

PPC (pay per click) is when you (the advertiser) bid on keywords relevant to your product, service, and target market. Your ads then display as "sponsored results" on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Microsft when those queries are typed in. (Depending, of course, on their relevance, how much you bid, and about a trillion other factors.)

Pepsi's Hispanic Campaign Inspires Slew of Comments

March 30, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: Marketing, Top Ten, US Translation Services

yo sumo pepsi marketing campaignPepsi received some great coverage in AdAge yesterday about its Hispanic-focused marketing campaign, playing off of the multilingual advertisements for the 2010 U.S. census, which urges all Americans to make themselves "count."

But within 24 hours of the story — which was also distributed on mainstream media outlets like Crain's New York — was a hotbed of discussion, er, disappointment, in both Pepsi and its Hispanic agency, Dieste.

The argument? "Yo sumo," the literal Spanish translation for "I count," may not have been the wisest choice for a campaign whose self-proclaimed purpose is to encourage Hispanics to go beyond being counted numerically and to share their experiences.

As Judy from New York put it in her comment:

"Yo sumo" means I add numbers (1+1=2). However, "Yo cuento", can mean either I count numbers or I count as a person. Hence, in this context, "Yo sumo" does not make sense. It works exactly the same in English: it's the difference between "I add" and "I count". What makes sense is "I count". What would make sense in correct Spanish is "Yo ME sumo" (I add/include myself).

What are ISO Language Codes?

iso logoSo you need to get your English website translated into German, Japanese, Spanish and Korean. Your globalization team comes back with a document that says:

                  en into de, jp, ko, es

What new language is that? Well, it’s not really a language, but rather internationally accepted abbreviations for world languages. “En” represents English, while “de” represents German and so on. And now to your next question: How did they get “de” from the word “German”? The word in German for the German language is Deutsch — hence the “de” abbreviation.

3 (In)famous Marketing Translation Errors

March 7, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, Top Ten, Translation Agency

kfc bucket with birdSome of our favorite blunders from global marketing campaigns:

  1. Translated literally into Chinese, KFC's slogan "finger lickin’ good" came out as "eat your fingers off." Oops!
  2. Parker Pen's slogan "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you" translated in Mexico: "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant." We sure hope not...
  3. IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, decided to call one of its new desks "FARTFULL." Maybe not such a good idea.

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Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


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