The concept of transcreation has become quite popular in the last few years. It is a practice that takes a different approach to marketing and advertising translation, focussing on the modern philosophy of “acting globally and thinking locally.”

If contemporary advertising has the goal of drawing a specific reaction out of the target audience, transcreation must retain that goal and work towards reaching the very same reaction in a completely different culture.

Towards an emotional approach to transcreation

With globalisation and the shift both in consumer behaviour and marketing strategies, translation must evolve to accommodate a new perspective; that of the emotional branding. The ease of access to multicultural markets has made it so that there are hundreds of variations for each product, and demonstrating one’s superior quality is often no longer enough to secure a loyal customer base.

The question posed to the target audience is no longer “which product looks, feels and works best?” but “which product do you really need?”. That is why current marketing strategies play on that need, on that desire, and thus focus on creating an emotional bond between the customer and their brand of choice.

Here is where transcreators come into play

As the word itself suggests, transcreation is a combination of two processes: that of translation and that of creation. It focuses on the balance that must exist between conveying a message and shaping a captivating medium to do so; keeping the original feeling and at the same time adapting it to a completely different audience, taking into account the shift in perception.

A transcreator’s job has to be approached in a different way than that of a technical or sworn translator: preserving the original meaning comes second, and what matters most is evoking similar emotions in the target audience. They duplicate the emotional message, but in such a way that makes it impossible to tell that a linguistic shift happened in the first place. It is not about linguistic equivalence as much as it is about adapting a concept, looking to elicit the same reaction from the new audience that the original did back in its own environment.

What transcreation entails

Transcreation may include the adaptation of images, auditive and visual cues alongside with that of the text itself. The message must be embedded in the target culture completely, taking into consideration traditions, unspoken rules and common norms of social interaction. The tone, the humour, the references – all of it must be completely absorbed by the audience, and for that to be possible everything has to be tailored to their country.

Of course, such a procedure takes time. The transcreator needs to submerge themselves into the target culture, researching, exploring, studying the best ways to ideate a version of the original text that is just as catchy and memorable in that language and environment. Properly adapting a concept to the target culture is key to its approval and circulation of the message amid the audience. A thoughtless marketing campaign, on the other hand, makes it much harder for a product or a brand to become popular – it might even aggravate and alienate potential customers.

When advertisement goes wrong

Such a negative result has, as a matter of fact, been achieved quite often in the past. Even very large multinational companies such as KFC and Pepsi have had less than ideal experiences with promotional translation: bringing dead ancestors back to life might not be a very smart promise to make when you’re trying to convince your Chinese customer to taste your fizzy drink, and an invitation to bite your own fingers off is not exactly what the Colonel had in mind, surely.

And then there’s Ford, which mentioned to its Belgian customers how “every car has a high-quality corpse”. It isn’t hard to figure out why such a slogan could affect sales quite negatively.

If you are planning on significantly investing in multilingual advertisements, it would be a shame to waste your money on an unsuccessful campaign. By trusting inexperienced translators or, even worse, automatic translation services, you are taking a huge risk that might have an irreversible impact on your brand’s reputation in the target country. Some might say that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but they’ve obviously never witnessed the results of an ineffective advertising campaign: better not mistake fame for infamy.

Key differences between translation and transcreation

The creative side of transcreation bears some similarities with editorial translation, especially with literary translation. While both editorial translation and transcreation pay a great amount of attention to the target culture, however, their process and their results are largely different. One very important difference lies in the need to maintain the identity of the author and the core aspects of the original culture intact and transparent in the text. Where a literary translator aims to guide the reader in their journey through a foreign place and time, an advertising translator transforms the material so that it is indistinguishable from texts that are native to the target culture. There are however obvious similarities. Both transcreation and editorial translation take into account the beauty and flow of the text, its nuances. The result has to be brilliant and vivid, and one could say that translating an ad can be quite similar to translating a poem. The first step in the transcreative work is thus creation itself. The source material is closer to a reference; the transcreator job is that of starting from scratch, only preserving the style, the tone and the intent of the original. The aim is to make a product or service known so that the consumer buys it. The literary translator, on the other hand, departs from the source text only as far as is necessary to preserve the literary value of the original in the target language by means of a successful rewriting.

Why you should trust an experienced transcreator

While you might go looking for accuracy and faithfulness to the original text when requiring a translation, the process of transcreation is much bolder and tied to creativity; it is, on almost every level, as complex and unrestricted as the process of creation of the original concept itself. This is why a good transcreator needs not only an efficient research method and a deep cultural understanding of the target audience, but also brilliant creative writing skills.

Experience with copywriting can be invaluable. Coming up with a satisfactory result relies heavily on an imaginative mind – one that will still, at all times, remember that inspiration and creativity should always leave some room for efficiency and, where possible, SEO compatibility. A good transcreator is, oftentimes, just as good at copywriting.

Speed also plays a key role in the transcreation process: a skilled transcreator knows what to look for, what works best, and remembers that time is the most precious resource available

– managing research and creation while abiding by deadlines requires a fine technique that takes years to perfect. These are the reasons why it is so important to hire knowledgeable, experienced people: transcreation can easily overwhelm amateurs.

The relationship between customer and transcreator

The transcreation process requires close collaboration between the client and the team of translators who will handle the project.

Transparency and engagement

  • Presenting the original text to the transcreator is often not enough to ensure your result is of the highest quality possible. In order for our linguistic and cultural experts to work on your project, it will be necessary to specify every detail about the intended meaning and expected reaction: what demographic is your advertisement targeting? Are there any limitations on length, style or tone? Is the original idea behind the text that of being assertive, persuasive, helpful? Are there any details about your business that you feel could be relevant to the process of transcreation?
  • Keeping in contact with the agency is of the utmost importance. Our transcreators might come up with different project ideas that you will be able to evaluate, revise or modify in case of specific requirements present in the target market. Your vision and that of your company must be preserved at all costs, and fast, reliable communication networks will help us achieve our objective, together.
  • Understanding that such a complex process can take longer than translations. To guarantee a satisfactory result, our transcreators will need time to research, brainstorm and evaluate each step carefully. Unlike translators, they can only rely on their capabilities, logic and creativity – there is no such thing as “machine transcreation” to speed the process along.

Expertise, quality, understanding

  • Choosing the best available transcreator for each unique project. As opposed to translators, transcreators must have a nigh perfect knowledge about the target culture; it is the agency’s responsibility to guarantee the best possible result, and the first step towards that is picking the best among our numerous collaborators.
  • Always being up to date about marketing trends and evolution. For an advertising campaign to be effective, the transcreator always needs to be ready to adapt to a constantly changing environment: the marketing scene. It takes an expert to successfully navigate the multitude of news and information available about each different country and identify the best course of action, and our transcreators have polished their research skills enough to make sure no key data is ever missing.
  • Ensuring the highest quality at competitive speeds, while respecting the customer’s wishes. No matter how hard the job is, our customer’s satisfaction is our number one priority. Our transcreators are ready to collaborate in full with the customer in order to appease their preferences regarding the result, and are experienced in doing so while keeping in mind that every minute counts. That is why we use the latest technologies for research and creation – time is of essence.

Let your campaign take its best shot

If you have an innovative project, invite your customers to learn about it through an innovative and effective marketing campaign. Transcreation will help you spread the word about your project in foreign markets. A successful campaign is the best way to ensure a successful expansion.

Here at textinnova you will only find trustworthy, experienced transcreators to help your brand make its big foreign break. After all, transcreation is progress, and progress is our second name.