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What is Transcreation and why do you need it?

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Ever since the beginning of the 21st century, the constant expansion of new brands and campaigns has led into a focus shift within the localization industry, since emerging issues need to be addressed and pressing requirements need to be met. The concept of transcreation comes to the forefront, as creative translation initiatives are placed within a broader and dynamic marketing framework.

The objective of getting glocal –i.e., reaching global dimensions and at the same time reflecting local considerations– is found to be at the core of every transcreation project. But before we move into showcasing the peculiarities of such attempts, let us first shed some light on the very notion of transcreation and its differences from the commonly used concept of translation.

What is transcreation?

As implied by the term itself, transcreation can be found at the crossroads of interlinguistic translation and copywriting, since it entails both the notion of translating from one language into another and the act of content creation. Therefore, it opens up an innovative and dynamic pathway undertaken by brands that are seeking to reach new markets and target new audiences.

How is transcreation different from translation?

Of course, language has always been at the core of any attempt for global reach. The peculiarity of transcreation lies in the fact that more emphasis is placed on a variety of parameters underlying or surrounding the linguistic content per se. In other words, transcreators are actively engaging with slight subtleties that could easily slip through unnoticed and have a severe impact on the way the original product reaches a bright new audience.

As opposed to the verbatim transfer of a text from one language into another, the act of transcreating focuses on the changes that need to be made so that the original meaning be culturally appropriate for the target market. While seeking to transcend linguistic borders, the translator evolved in a transcreation project needs to make all the necessary changes so that the original message is conveyed in a way that is culturally relevant to the readers. At the same time, the core concept of the original wording needs to be absolutely preserved, given that it determines the very identity of the brand or the marketing campaign in question.

What is transcreation?

Challenges and potentials

Terms with meaning similar to transcreation include “creative translation”, “cross-market copywriting”, “international copy adaptation”, “marketing translation” and “cultural adaptation”. In all such cases, attention is paid on the original work’s tone, style and context, while the focus is placed both on achieving linguistic precision and, most importantly, on capturing and recreating the feeling of the source text. A successfully transcreated message evokes the same emotional impact to the target audience and carries the same connotations in the target language as it does in the source language. That is also the reason why similarities may be drawn between transcreation, as a specific act of interlingual and cross-cultural transition, and literary translation or even creative writing.

Given that the broader act of translating is a dynamic decision-making process, the language professional who undertakes a transcreation project is faced with various dilemmas seeking ways to avoid linguistic dead ends and overcome cultural barriers. How to fit culture-bound references, puns, metonymies, neologisms, homonyms and idiomatic nuances typical of one particular language into a completely different (extra)linguistic reality? How can the connotative and metaphoric use of language be preserved when character restrictions may also need to apply?

The translator’s independent creative role comes to the forefront while various considerations gradually emerge regarding the intricacy of the transcreation process. In an attempt to safeguard the original work’s essence in terms of stylistic choices, the transcreator seeks ways of counterbalancing for potential semantic deviations and vice versa.

Where can I use transcreation?

In the marketing and advertising field, transcreation services prove to be of utmost importance especially with regards to the following cases:

  • Idioms and sayings
  • Headlines, taglines and slogans
  • Humor and wordplay
  • Country-specific references
  • General branding materials
  • Body language and facial expressions in audiovisual content

Various parameters related to cultural practices and mores may differ across cultural and linguistic boundaries and must be carefully taken into consideration, as these disparities can significantly limit the effectiveness and impact of a cross-market campaign. These factors influence consumers’ behavior and their reactions to advertising elements.

Interestingly enough, transcreation might also be used in cases where the original and the target audience speak the same language, but there are severe sociocultural differences affecting the way in which the message is perceived. For example, transcreation services may importantly contribute to the expansion of an American branding campaign into the United Kingdom market. It is also worth noting that transcreation services may include consultation and feedback on the appearance and the graphic design of a creative message or website ensuring that it is culturally appropriate and aesthetically relevant for the target local market.

What is transcreation?

Concluding remarks

Even though transcreation can be a highly intricate and multilayered process, the result for which each client aims can be achieved as long as it is proactively thought through and carried out by a team of transcreation professionals. As in all marketing projects, a content brief is extremely important in this case, since the transcreator needs to have a clear overview of the whole branding campaign, its characteristics and its objectives. Surveying in the local markets of the targeted country can also help determine if the campaign will be effective or if it will manage to establish the intended emotional connection between the audience and the message. At the same time, it can also help determine if the transcreated product has retained the creative aspects of the original campaign.

Given that the end results of a transcreation project could decisively affect a product’s perceived value in a different market and, therefore, its progress and salability, transcreation is surely a challenging endeavor. The more prepared we get for this risky journey, the more likely we are to safely reach our destination and set out on new adventures. Worth a try, don’t you think?

To discover what our team of transcreation professionals can do for your marketing content, get in touch with us today.

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