What is Transcreation?

513355289Do you want to promote your brand globally in a way that really ‘speaks’ to your customers? If yes, then you may want to consider transcreation. In this blog, Louise Donkor talks transcreation, what it is and its role in global marketing.

Transcreation combines two words: translation and recreation. The process involves both. Sometimes called creative translation, the aim of transcreation is to adapt a message into another language. The transcreation process involves a lot more creativity than straight translation. There is not the obligation to stay linguistically faithful to the source text, as long as the key message is still conveyed.

Transcreation takes the source text and translates it so that the original message and intent are still explicit. This goes beyond just literal translation. The source text may need to be completely ‘recreated’ so it has the same effect on the target audience. The transcreation process can completely alter the structure, images, even the subject in the source text in order to fit with the target culture and evoke the same emotions.

The origin of the word transcreation is disputed. Some say the term came from the foreign language copywriting specialist agency, Mother Tongue, whilst others say it was coined by the former head of Silver Advertising Ltd, Bernard Silver. Whatever its origin, the word transcreation is widely used in the localization, marketing and advertising industry and has become increasingly popular over the years.

The use of transcreation depends on the source content and it is often something that is used for marketing materials. Technical documentation is more logical and may not be suitable for transcreation as linguistic style is not important. Being accurate and faithful to the source text is higher priority for more factual, engineering content. Transcreation is mostly applied to creative texts, such as television commercials, posters, websites or even comic books destined for international distribution.

When the Indian version of the comic book, Spider-Man that was released in 2004, instead of adhering to some parallels of the American version, an in-country [Indian] copywriter simply created a completely new comic book story, but kept the overall Spider-Man voice and key story characteristics faithful to the original.

Using transcreation in a global marketing campaign displays your brand in a more intimate and personal way to your local customers around the world. Although this may mean that your brand’s marketing communication may look different from country to country, its voice and message will be consistent, something that basic translation may not be able to do.

Transcreators are often specialist copywriters and designers with a good knowledge of at least two languages to give locale and cultural guidance. They consider how the linguistics of the source text will affect the target text and recreate content to better suit the local market.

Launching a global marketing campaign, global marketers have to consider whether translation, localization or transcreation is right for the brand and marketing materials. As effective as transcreation is, it is also costly and time-consuming. This may not correspond with time restrictions or budget.

Transcreation is also best used when you feel that your brand’s voice and message is the most important thing you want to come across when communicating with customers, quite often in the B2C market where advertising and media budgets can be millions of dollars.

When reaching out to a global audience, there are a variety of ways, methods and tools to do so. Teaming up with the globalization and localization specialists who have in-country linguists with knowledge and resource for transcreation services will ensure maximum impact for any high profile global marketing campaign.

For information about Welocalize transcreation services, click here: Welocalize Transcreation Information

Louise Donkor is a member of Welocalize’s global marketing team.