Transcreation examples: the good, the bad and the ugly
Good examples of transcreation let a company transition seamlessly into a new culture, and sell. Bad transcreation examples show how a company’s branding can end up looking like a dog’s dinner.
Transcreation is a bit of a buzz word at the moment. But, if you sell in more than one language it’s a powerful tool. It can boost your sales. It’s more than just translation. It’s more than just copywriting.
As Gwen explained in her What is transcreation article, transcreation is a combination of translating and creating content, to target a specific country or culture. Most importantly, it helps you sell. At The Translator’s Studio, we work with you to transcreate your content. We create copy that is specially designed for your brand and target customer.
We live in a globalised world. A quick look around you will throw up lots of transcreation examples. You’ll see high-quality and low-quality transcreation. Let’s have a look at some transcreation examples in the real world. We’ll look at the good, the bad and the ugly. And see what we can learn about how to make the most of transcreation.
Bad transcreation examples
Let’s get the worst over with. What makes a bad transcreation? Most of the low-quality transcreation examples you’ll find are slogans. It might seem easy to translate a slogan. It’s only a few words after all. Right? Wrong. A good slogan needs to be quickly understood by your target reader. It needs to be memorable. How you do that? Often by using rhyme. Maybe a play on words. Or similar sounding words. Lots of slogans use humour to grab attention. These things don’t necessarily translate into another language.
“Pepsi got it badly wrong when their slogan ‘Come alive with the Pepsi generation’ was rendered in Chinese as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’.”
Kentucky Fried Chicken gave us another example of a bad transcreation into Mandarin. It’s also an example of why literal translation doesn’t work. KFC’s famous “Finger lickin’ good” slogan became “Eat your fingers off”. Obviously, it didn’t have quite the same ring!
These blunders can also happen with the name of the brand. It’s another reason why you need a transcreator. Someone who knows the culture of your target market.
For instance, the famous Pedo brand of Turkish nappies works less well in Spain, where it means flatulence. Phonetics are important too. Coca-Cola can sound like “bite the wax tadpole” when spoken out loud in Chinese. Sometimes the tone doesn’t translate well. McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” has been translated in some Spanish speaking countries as “Me encanta” (I love it). But, in China, the word love is deemed too strong for a slogan. So, it has been transcreated to “I just like it”. Sounds strangely passive to us, but it works very well in the target market.
“A poor-quality transcreation can hurt your brand reputation. And cost you money.”
Mitsubishi had to rebrand its newly launched Pajero. Named for the Pampas Cat of Argentina (Leopardus pajeros), it had an unfortunate sexual meaning in Spanish. The car was eventually launched on the Spanish market as the Montero. And the company had to take the hit on costs.
Ugly transcreation examples
As you can see, it’s easy enough to stumble into a bad transcreation. Brand blunders can do great damage to your brand and sales. But, there’s bad transcreation and then there’s the downright ugly. Would you buy a sports drink called Pocari Sweat? Or aluminium foil emblazoned with Alu-Fanny? Perhaps you’d think twice about munching on breakfast cereal called Crapsy Fruit.
Good transcreation examples
We’ve had a good laugh at some bad transcreation examples. What about the good? What makes a good transcreation? It isn’t just about translating slogans. It’s about providing targeted content for different markets.What makes a good #transcreation? #xl8 Click To Tweet
We looked at an issue Coca-Cola had with rendering their brand name in a very different language. The company actually transcreates a lot of their content. And it’s not just slogans. Coca-Cola has dedicated websites for each of their country-specific markets. Each of these websites is tailored to that market. They work like separate websites. They transcreate the layout, visuals and the words for each country. If you look at the different sites you’ll see the presentation is quite different for each one.
The German company Haribo is a good transcreation example. “Kids and grownups love it so, the happy world of Haribo” follows the same jingle-like melody of the German original “Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso” (Haribo makes children happy, and grownups too). The company has then used the same jingle across the rest of its target markets. The tune and the general meaning is the same. But, it’s understandable, and memorable in other languages. So, we have:
- “Haribo, c’est beau la vie–pour les grands et les petits” (Haribo, life is beautiful–for grownups and children). French.
- “Haribo è la bontà–che si gusta ad ogni età” (Haribo is the great thing that you can eat at any age). Italian.
The brand has a consistent message. It produces sweets that can be enjoyed at any age. It’s then wrapped that up in a melody that’s recognised and understandable across the world.
Another successful transcreation example is from Intel. The computer-chip manufacturer changed its successful slogan “Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow” for the Brazilian markets. Why? Because research showed that in Portuguese, “Sponsors of Tomorrow” implied Intel would not deliver on its promises immediately. In Brazil, the slogan became “Intel: In love with the future”. A good transcreator will use their knowledge of your target market. They know what works and what will fall flat.
What’s the take home message from these transcreation examples?
The bad transcreation examples are funny. They make us laugh. But, they don’t make us want to buy. To sell, you need to connect with your customer. You need to know what moves them. What motivates them to make that purchase. And you need to tap into that in a language they understand. In words that get into their head. Words that mean something to them. That’s where a transcreator comes in. They can help you create that brand loyalty with people who don’t speak your language.
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