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What is Transcreation?

22nd July 2020
Reading time 5 min

What is Transcreation

Transcreation, or to some known as creative translation, cultural adaptation, in-language copywriting, copy adaptation and many more, is a service utilised by marketing and advertising agencies. The service provides adaptation of copy from a source language to another (or several others), taking into account the type of content, requirements, goals and the cultures of the language regions. The assets delivered by transcreation suppliers should have the same emotions, objectives and “soul” as the master copy. It must have the same voice, style and meaning while resonating with audiences in respective languages.

What is Transcreation

The Process of Local Campaign Assets Transcreation

  • Consumer Insights
  • Master Campaign Strategy
  • Master Campaign Idea
  • Master Campaign Concept
  • Master Campaign Assets (copy / design)
  • Transcreation
  • Local Campaign Assets (copy / design)

”Transcreation is also known as “creative translation”, “cultural adaptation”, “in-language copywriting”, “copy adaptation”, and many others.”

Transcreation is a key player in global campaigns. To create successful campaigns globally, advertisers must create assets that audiences in local markets are drawn to, just as audiences in their home markets are. Transcreation aims for audiences to have the same experience with the original content in any language or market. Due to language and cultural barriers, traditional translations cannot get the full message across because they are not customised for specific audiences. Creating translated copy that incorporates the values, beliefs, culture, emotions and dialects of different regions can be tricky. Failure to consider all of these aspects can result in missed opportunities in reaching new markets. Therefore, transcreation is important in meeting these complex demands.

Here’s an example: a soft drink brand is promoting its new fizzy drink and the headline for the new press ad is Lovely Bubbly. Transcreation services would need to provide more than simple translations for each of the words. It would need to play on the region’s idioms, the syntax, rhyme (if applicable) and spirit that the headline intends to communicate – ‘Herrlich perlig’ in the German language or ‘fa(bulle)ux’ in French, and so on.

As mentioned, slogans and catchphrases are common types of transcreation. Oftentimes, the slogan may be different from the source language because the words in the catchphrase do not register the same way with the target group or because of language barriers. Also, rhyming may lose its power when translated into different languages. Therefore, transcreation is utilised in order to communicate the source language’s meaning more effectively.

Transcreation process

  1. Agency receives a brief and a final master copy from the client.
  2. Debrief takes place to align agency-client expectations and ways of working.
  3. Agency establishes a working process, provides timings and costs.
  4. Transcreation by in-market advertising copywriters begins.
  5. Quality check by other in-market advertising copywriters is conducted.
  6. Clients' revisions take place and any amendments are incorporated.
  7. Final version of the copy is approved by native speaking proofreaders.
  8. Final copy is delivered and/or implemented into the artwork.
  9. Final artwork is again QC'ed by a native speaking project manager.

All media communications can use transcreation, including radio, television, voice overs, print, websites, banners and so forth. Basically, it can be utilised in all communications where creativity is necessary in order to properly relay the message. In addition, transcreation can be helpful in creative names if product names in the source language become muddled during translation. Even small changes can make a big difference as was shown when the household name brand Jif was launched abroad, marketers realised many European countries had difficulties pronouncing the name. It was subtly changed to a more universally accepted pronunciation, Cif.

Transcreation is used more for shorter and more creative texts, as opposed to localisation, which is mainly needed for longer and less creative content, also due to the fact that transcreation is much more time-consuming work and becomes very costly to transcreate large bodies of copy.

Because transcreation is complex, it is important to determine when the services are truly needed. BTL (below the line, or internal communications, brochures, POS, etc.) and ATL (above the line, or newspaper, television, Out of Home, etc.) are seen as the general divide between translation and transcreation. BTL normally has more budget constraints, as clients don’t think it is necessary to spend money on higher transcreation rates.

ATL campaigns don’t necessarily need to be creative, but must often utilise transcreation services since a wider and more diverse audience will interact with the content. So, it must be adapted to overcome language and cultural barriers. BTL may be creative, but since it often has fewer creative aspects such as taglines and is more based on informative copy, it will not benefit as much from transcreation services. Slang words and idioms are also complicated, but can also be a great way to connect with the local market if the transcreation copy is done well.

Transcreation is important in extending inbound marketing strategies globally. Outbound strategies aim to identify and reach target audiences. However, inbound strategies focus on users that search online content and then visit sites that correspond to their queries. In order to improve the users’ experience, the content they find should not be limited to simply translated, digital content, but transcreation content that speaks to them.

So, when and how should a marketer choose to use transcreation?

  • When to use transcreation: Transcreation should be utilised when a brand’s message must effectively be communicated across different markets. In fact, some think that transcreation is vital for all marketing content, including brochures, flyers and banners. When brands need their messages to be culturally relevant for their target audiences, they must transcreate their copy instead of merely translating it.

  • When not to use transcreation: Transcreation may not be necessary for technical materials, since their meaning should be as close to the source copy as possible.

So, when and how should a marketer choose to use copywriting?

  • When to use copywriting: Copywriting is key when new content needs to be created, such as blog posts or articles, in various languages. The main benefit of choosing copywriting over transcreation or translation is that the original copy can completely reflect the audience and region the copywriter is writing in – instead of simply translating a post that is not engaging for local users. For example, writing about a wool hat that is perfect for fall walks may be more engaging for consumers in Scotland than those in Costa Rica.

  • When not to use copywriting: For copy, such as website text, that needs to follow the brand’s guidelines, transcreation may be more effective and consistent than creating new copy.

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