In marketing and advertising, concepts and messages matter. Communicating them in different languages and cultures is often more important than simply translating them as closely as possible. Although professional document translation will deliver clear, correct text in your target language, the result may lack the character, style or effectiveness of the original. The transcreation process solves that problem: a transcreator goes beyond translation by first considering the advertising or marketing concept, not just the words, then rewriting it for the target market.

Why transcreation matters

When it comes to building global appeal for your brand, getting your message wrong is no laughing matter. We can spend thousands on research, focus groups, design and development. But it’s wasted if a country or region reads your message in a way that wasn’t intended.

Have you ever laughed at a holiday restaurant where the translation left a lot to be desired? Badly translated menus are almost as popular as cats on the internet. There are some hilarious, puzzling and often downright rude errors. Even global giants such as Coca-Cola, Ford and Ikea have been caught out.

Marketing and advertising in particular are tricky areas for translation. Creative teams think about connections and feelings of familiarity when developing campaigns to sell products. They rely on nuances of language, evoking memories and recalling strong emotions. They create connections by using national, regional or local references that keep products and services at the forefront of people’s minds. Even the most intelligent translation software is no substitute for local knowledge of cultural significance.

The transcreation Process

Transcreation versus translation

Translation produces an accurate translation of a document. Transcreation process analyses much more. It looks at the intent, style, tone and context of the message. Experts with local knowledge of language, imagery, associations and connotations work through the whole process. They ensure consistency of brand but also observe local requirements, expectations and customs.

Strong and powerful images in one region or country could be frowned upon, or even illegal, in another. Populations of one country could remember happy times when they hear a particular song, but others could associate it with a national crisis.

Transcreation for marketing

Translations should be as literal as possible in complex legal documents or contracts with specific terms and conditions. Transcreation for marketing is different. A word or phrase should often be changed for something completely different to convey the desired message. Literally translated, these words or phrases may bear no resemblance to each other. But they will spark the required connection in the target market. The end result is in line with the original intent, tone and context of the message developed by the creative team.

Transcreation for business

The transcreation process is essential for international marketing and advertising messages, but it’s not exclusive to these sectors. Any international business should ensure messages aren’t lost in translation.

Weeks or months of hard work go into company handbooks, health and safety guides and business strategies. All that effort is undone in an instant if the reader is given a document translation that doesn’t observe cultural significances. The aim is for the reader to absorb the information. A document that hasn’t been through the transcreation process could do the opposite. The reader could laugh at a serious document, or even be offended by negative connotations.

The transcreation process is much more than translating a document and checking for errors. Experts carefully analyze source text materials for the original meaning, target audience, intended message and desired outcomes. The team produces a comprehensive package of glossaries, descriptions and briefing documents to ensure that the finished product is tailored to the target audience. They take into account linguistic, cultural, educational and technical standpoints.

Appointing a professional transcreation company could mean the difference between inviting your customers to enjoy “finger lickin’ good” chicken, or suggesting they “eat their fingers off,” which is exactly what KFC did when they expanded into China. Can you afford to make that mistake?

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