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Transcreation: Global Marketing via Creativity

Translation requires many different processes and techniques to create an effective product. Some of these processes include technologies such as machine translation or CAT tools. Others require in-depth research to ensure that a translation suits the tastes of an intended target culture. This is known as localization. An additional term seen in the world of LSPs (Language Service Providers) is transcreation. Transcreation is a combination of the words “translation” and “creation”. It is one of the most creative processes in the industry. 

Despite having similarities with localization, transcreation is a separate skillset. They have overlapping concepts, but there are great differences. Knowing those differences can help you better communicate what services you need. Through transcreation, you can access the global market in a way that feels natural to your target audience. 

What exactly is transcreation? 

Transcreation is the process of recreating content so that the message of a translation creates the same emotional impact as the original. It takes into account details such as voice, style and tone. Transcreation focuses on rebranding content instead of just managing cultural differences. As a result, those who work with transcreation don’t always have to stick to the source text. They focus on translating the impact of a message, as opposed to the words themselves. Sometimes this means that the target text, image, or design needs to differ greatly from the original. 

A transcreator acts as both an advisor on cultural differences and a translator. Additionally, they have skills in literary translation, creative writing, and design. When combined, these skills allow them to easily manage the demands of rebranding.   

When is transcreation a good option?

While assessing whether transcreation is the right option for you, it is important to take into account the content of your product. It is most effective in the marketing and advertising industries. This kind of content benefits greatly from transcreation. It allows ads to appeal to an audience in their own voice instead of a foreign voice that may seem invasive. 

If your product marketing is reliant on literary devices such as alliteration or rhyming, you may want to consider transcreation. These literary devices, along with humor and very specific cultural references, can easily become lost in translation. Transcreation circumvents these issues. By adjusting the branding strategies of a product, you can convey the same emotions as the original product even in areas with extremely different beliefs or values as your original target audience.  

An additional benefit of transcreation as opposed to basic translation or localization is that it hides that translation ever occurred. A transcreated product appears as though it were originally developed in the target language instead of being adapted into a target language. This makes content seem local. An audience is more likely to interact with a product if it seems familiar to them. If you want your product to appear in a format that looks native to your audience, transcreation is the perfect option. 

What does the transcreation process look like?

The first step in the transcreation process is to finish the original product. While this might seem like an obvious strategy, sometimes companies make last minute changes to their marketing campaigns. However, these minute differences can cause lots of trouble for transcreators. They carefully analyze even the smallest details in order to best rebrand a product. A sudden change can cause setbacks in their designs or translations. In order to fully convey the same emotions in their transcreated version, the original product needs to be completely finished first.   

Next, the transcreation process requires a creative brief. During this brief, transcreators ask important questions about the product. They consider the brand’s mission, campaign strategy, and the style preferences of the original creator. A thorough translation brief helps improve how quickly transcreation occurs and how effective the rebranded products are.

Transcreation specialists aren’t just focused on conveying a message from one language to another—they also ensure that the product evokes an identical reaction. Once they begin the process, they might need to change a variety of features such as slogans, imagery, vocabulary, and layouts. As a result, transcreators may take many creative liberties. They blend creativity with adaptive translation to develop the most efficient rebranding for a certain target audience.

Once the transcreator has come up with a few good options for the new rebranding, they reconvene with the client for approval. They explain their choices, the meaning of any new translations, and why it will connect with the target audience. The client and transcreator work together to find the best solution. 

Examples of Transcreation:

A good example of transcreation occurred when Red Bull, a brand famous for its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings!”, debuted the popular drink in China. Transcreators recognized that the brand focused on the idea that the beverage helps you achieve more and gain more energy. To convey those emotions to a Chinese audience, they changed the product’s coloring. The original can is red, white, and blue. The Chinese version is red, black, and gold. These colors signify luck, good fortune, and wealth to Chinese consumers. Through this simple change, they were able to convey the same emotions of the original message through a simple rebranding. 

Another example of excellent transcreation occurred when Apple released the small device known as the iPod shuffle. The iPod was advertised using the slogan “Small Talk”. Unfortunately, this slogan was difficult to translate. Transcreators found solutions by creating slogans that implied amazement at how much the device could do. The Canadian-French version translated approximately to “Says little, does much”, while the Latin American Spanish version translated to “Look who’s talking!” 

The Takeaway:

Transcreation is a very nuanced process. Transcreators require lots of creativity and cultural awareness. As they consider how to rebrand a product, they take into account language, culture, and emotions to help products succeed in the global marketplace. 

Wondering if your product could benefit from transcreation? Metafraze is here to help! Contact us for more information on transcreation, creative briefs, and global marketing. 

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