What Is Transcreation? Is It Different to Marketing Translation?
Transcreation means creatively translating advertising and branding materials. It takes a lot of thinking to create the desired response in the new culture.
What is transcreation? A combination of translation and copywriting. It’s a more creative process than marketing translation, though you may have both in the same project. Sometimes there’s more translation, other times there’s more copywriting.
What is transcreation? The black-and-white answer
Transcreation means creatively translating advertising and branding materials. The translation is so creative that it becomes copywriting. So the transcreator generates new content from the seed of the original material. This may be involve working with brand names, slogans, advertising contents and visuals.
Why do you need transcreation?
Sometimes, branding that’s very successful in the original culture gets lost in translation. An example that springs to mind is the Spanish company BRA, which makes high-quality kitchenware. It’s a leading brand in Spain, associated with high quality. But in English, the first thing you think of when you read the name is women’s underwear. Worse still, there’s a gender connotation that no one wants this century.
A good transcreator could work with the marketing department of a company that wants to internationalise and come up with creative suggestions to avoid unwanted puns, like “welcome to the bra world” or “cook with bra”. As you can see, this professional may be worth their weight in gold as part of a localization campaign.
What does a transcreator do?
The transcreator combines their language skills with their copywriting skills. They come up with an idea that respects the spirit of the original and that will generate the desired response from the new target customer.
Beyond looking at just the words, the transcreator can also offer advice about visual elements, like the people shown in images and what they’re wearing. Without meaning to pick on BRA, their website has a recipes section. A transcreator could go through that and suggest which recipes would be popular in the new target market and alter them as necessary. They may suggest new images that generate the same feelings in the new culture. For instance, an image of salmorejo con taquitos de jamón iberíco, an iconic and traditional, cold summer starter, could be replaced with a Waldorf salad. Changes like this aren’t obvious because it’s about the associations and emotions generated. It can take a lot of thinking to come up with the right solution.
Of course, there are certain parts of the job of localising a website in this way that are straight marketing translation. The translation should read naturally, but the basic content doesn’t need rewriting. That’s why the same person could be doing both jobs.
If you’d like to see more examples of transcreation success and faux pas, you’ll enjoy Lucy’s article Transcreation Examples: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.Want to know what #transcreation is? Read this. Click To Tweet
What isn’t transcreation?
I’ve heard some translators answer the question what is transcreation? by saying that it is adapting US English to UK English. Like an ad that uses American Football, which needs to be changed for a UK audience. That is a type of localization. But, since there’s no translation involved, it’s a copywriting job.
7 shades of writing for localization
Localization refers to the entire process of adapting a product to a new market. It’s a useful term for the purposes of this article because it can encompass copywriting, transcreation and marketing translation. There is an entire spectrum of writing tasks involved in localizing a product. These tasks can involve different degrees of professional translation and professional copywriting skills.
If red is translation and blue is copywriting, below is what you might find in different localization projects.
“Transcreation makes sure the new text sells by tapping into what moves the new target customers.”
Transcreation. Spanish advertising copy transcreated into professional English advertising copy
A professional copywriter writes a slogan for your brand in Spanish. Now you want an English version of it. One that gets the same results. Obviously, you need a native English-speaking copywriter. But, this copywriter must also know how to translate from Spanish. They have to be able to see the cultural undertones, double meanings and nuances in the Spanish text. And then figure out how best to convey them in English.
It isn’t a question of throwing out everything in the Spanish text. It’s about recreating it, by judging which of the original elements to keep, and which ones to change. That is where transcreators come in. We have a translator’s ability to identify all the different facets of the original text. And a copywriter’s ability to convey them in English, to make sure your target customer is drawn in.
Marketing translation. Spanish copy translated into professional English copy
Imagine you’ve created an SEO-optimised blog in Spanish. You’ve already made a big investment and you want the translation to help you rank on Google, to generate leads. You want the translation to be professional marketing copy that is SEO-optimised. A professional marketing translator knows how to respect the original, while adapting it as needed, and inject professional SEO-copywriting techniques into the translation. You get your leads and the translation investment pays for itself a hundred times over.
Marketing translation. Non-native English copy overhauled into professional English copy
The same blog as in example 2, but the Spanish person is writing it in English. You can tell a non-native speaker wrote it. So, it doesn’t rank on Google or generate leads. You could get a copywriter to adapt the English copy. But, if they don’t speak Spanish, their understanding of the text will be superficial. A marketing translator can imagine what the writer would have said in Spanish. They know the typical errors. They know how to ask for clarification. With all this information, they edit and transform it. To create professional English copy that attracts new clients.
“This professional may be worth their weight in gold as part of a localization campaign.”
Bilingual Copywriting. Notes in Spanish used as the basis for professional English copy
Our client is tired of blogging in Spanish. They just want blogs in English. Or they want different English content. All this drafting, editing and proofreading takes so long. The client writes a set of notes in Spanish and the bilingual copywriter uses them to write the English copy. English copywriting for a Spanish client.Wondering about the difference between #Transcreation and #MarketingTranslation? Read this. Click To Tweet
Bilingual Copywriting. Brief in Spanish instructs professional English copy
The Spanish client orders a copywriting service from the transcreator. They do business together in Spanish. But, the transcreator has to be a native English speaker. A copywriter with bilingual benefits.
Why your company needs transcreation or marketing translation or bilingual copywriting
We all have a cultural background and way of thinking. The original writer creates their text for a certain readership. They write things those readers will like and understand. They select the content based on their own understanding of the world. We’re all limited by our own experience.
The readers of the new text will be people from a different culture. So, they’ll have a different way of understanding the world, and they’ll like different things. The marketing translator will be one of them. But, translators also have a deep understanding of the original context and culture. So, they’ll know how to take the original and adapt it to the new culture. Add knowledge of marketing and copywriting to the mix, and the new text achieves your goal. These services make sure your new text achieves its objectives, by tapping into what moves the new target customers.
Gwen and Lucy