You may know the importance of translation to reach more potential customers, but there is an added creative service that can help in ways translation cannot. The service is called transcreation, and it fills in where literal translation does not work. Transcreation is itself adapted from two different words to create a new definition: translation and recreation. Transcreation, then, is a creative rewriting process by the translator to ensure that your message is as powerful across the world.

Translation, much like art (which we believe it to be in its own right), does not have one correct answer. Due to the subtleties, nuances and complexities of language; two translators can translate the same text and create different sentences. They would not be incorrect, just preferential. That’s why finding a consistent partner can keep stylistic consistency – especially when it comes to marketing and outward facing material to stay on brand.Venn diagram of transcreation as a visual representation of the crossover between language, emotion and culture

So, what does transcreation do?

Much like localisation, transcreation is taking into consideration who the message is reaching out to. It’s all good and well translating, but if you adapt Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ into ‘Mach’s einfach’ (in German) or ‘Simplemente hazlo’ (in Spanish), which don’t really have the same effect. That simple, punchy tagline has been around for years and possibly the most recognisable English marketing slogan. You ask people about Nike and they’ll know that as well as the logo, their signature tick. To the point where it is not translated into Spanish for Spain, it is simply ‘Just Do It’ as it works better than the translation above.

Transcreation, the art of creative translation, is a service itself because it requires deep consideration by a marketing-minded translator to ensure that your message keeps its punch across borders. More than that, it requires an adaptation perhaps of an entire tone to ensure that it remains consistent. That is why it could be good to centralise your translation.

Isn’t it Localisation?

The real benefit of this over localisation is that it’s a more accurate representation of your brand to your consumer. It presents it in a much more successful way, humanising itself (depending on culture) to create a more intimate and personal connection to the demographic. As previously said, it may require a tonal change for each nation – sometimes even regions of each nation – which can make your brand look different around the world to those who know the languages. Despite looking differently, its consistency in overall branding remains, achieving the same desired effect by knowing how to achieve the same impact across cultures.

Frog holding a pen as a creative representation of transcreation

More than Language

What may surprise you is that transcreation is not only language related. Audiences react differently within their cultures to certain things: numbers, structures, images and even colours. Therefore, transcreation can stretch further beyond what you expect as each has cultural expectations. Numbers and colours can cause issues due to superstitions; numbers in your brand name or even phone numbers can make the audience switch off or be wary of your company. You can even do the opposite and gain their trust by using the lucky numbers/colours to improve your brand engagement.

Example of Why You Need It

Let’s give you some examples of why literal translation doesn’t work. The big company, KFC, didn’t invest in transcreation successfully. Changing their ‘Finger lickin’ good’ in China to the less appetising ‘Eat your fingers off’, a translation that really does not work, you will agree. We’re not trying to favour China, honestly, it’s just that Mandarin is a good example. That’s why McDonald’s ‘I’m lovin’ it’ translates to the majority of European languages like ‘Me encanta’ in Spanish. In China, though, love is too strong a word to be used in a slogan. The definition of it cannot be used casually. That’s why China’s slogan translates in English to ‘I just like it’ which obviously seems quite funny to English speakers. It sounds non-chalant and passive. In China, it’s hugely effective.

Although translation does require the empathy, judgement and skill of a translator, it is usually restrained to be as literal as possible when translating. Transcreation allows the creativity of the translator to flourish, maximising their potential to maximise your potential. That is how transcreation is different and if you are planning to move into markets or are already there, transcreation is the service you need to engage with the target audience as best as possible. That way, you can be trusted around the world with a consistent tone but through appealing to each countries’ sensibilities.

If you’re interested in transcreation or translation, get in touch with us for a free consultation on how we can help you.

by Ashley Norris

Content and Social Media Executive at Wolfestone. Ashley Norris is a professional writer in various forms, a First Class film graduate from Aberystwyth University and an experienced digital marketer. Despite his young age, Ashley has been working in digital marketing since its inception into the mainstream, acquiring over six years of experience inadvertently on social media platforms - a powerful marketing tool - and content management systems (primarily WordPress). Since working at Wolfestone, Ashley has explored his content writing skills, fully learnt SEO (even its multilingual benefits), practised graphic design on Adobe packages and continues to do video production to continue on from his degree.