How Transcreation is Different from Translation

Developing content that suits multiple markets, languages and cultures involves several techniques and skills. Many people don’t realize that launching a product globally is not simply a case of translating content from one language to another. Behind every global brand, there’s a team of translators, interpreters, transcribers, testers, linguistic copywriters and SME experts making sure that every piece of content, at every stop of the global journey, is relevant and culturally appropriate.

One area that often requires further explanation is the difference between translation and transcreation. Both techniques are integral to the overall localization process but there are fundamental differences between the two. Here are some of the main areas where the two differ:

CONTENT TYPE: There is so much content involved in bringing a brand to market. From patent documentation through to digital marketing content, each content type suits different localization techniques, often depending on impact. For content requiring high levels of accuracy, professional translation is used, which is supported by the relevant QA and review process. Content types such as compliance and regulatory information and technical manuals are suited to human translation. Translated output must remain close and true to the source content. For content types, such as digital marketing materials and high visibility marketing copy, such slogans, taglines, and adverts etc., linguistically translating from one language to another is not enough. The source content must be recreated to suit a local market and culture using transcreation. The overall brand concept is retained, but actual words and design features are changed and adapted.

THE TALENT: Translation is carried out by qualified and certified translators. For transcreation projects, this involves the talent of a linguistic copywriter who not only has in-depth knowledge of the target language and culture, but is also a skilled creative writer. The background and qualifications of a translators and linguistic copywriter will differ. The right translator or copywriter will depend on the content and the product itself. Translators often need subject matter expertise (SME) and copywriter will often have specialist experience in certain vertical sectors.

BRIEF VERSUS SOURCE: For translation projects, translators receive the source documents, with instruction, access to the relevant translation memory and terminology management and sometimes, in-context information. For transcreation, the team receives a creative brief which outlines the desired outcomes including target market, demographics and any relevant branding and style guidelines they need to adhere to.

HOURS NOT WORDS: Translation projects are typically priced based on word count. Transcreation projects are billed by the hour, and costs vary depending on the skill and experience of the linguistic copywriter and designer assigned to the project.

CONCEPTS AND DESIGNWORK: Translators work with words. Linguistic copywriters work with concepts which may involve words and design elements. Translation projects often go through a DTP checking process if there are diagrams or tables in the source content that may have altered during the translation process. For transcreation projects, certain visual elements may have to be recreated to suit a new market.

REVIEW PROCESS: For many translation projects, there is a defined review process involving in-country and third-party reviewers. Any reviewer will be a native speaker, with access to the source and will review the translated output against the source and agreed Service Language Agreements (SLAs). For transcreation, much of the output is subjective therefore reviewers will often be stakeholders who are close to the product itself and the creation of the source campaign.

SEO CONSIDERATIONS: Transcreation is often used to develop multilingual digital marketing campaigns. There is no point developing a creatively brilliant campaign if no one can find it. Transcreation doesn’t just apply to the actual campaign content, but is also the technique used to develop SEO strategies. The transcreation team must put themselves in the shoes of the local user and consider how they would search for certain products and services. SEO is an integral part of transcreation.

For more information on Welocalize multilingual digital marketing services, click here.

Written by Louise Law, Welocalize Global Communications Manager