GeneralWhat is Transcreation? A Comprehensive Guide

January 30, 2024by admin

While translation is well-known to everybody, most people get confused when they hear about transcreation. Therefore, this guide will discuss transcreation, its examples, and what differentiates it from localization and translation.

Leading enterprises recognize the significance of precise translation of documents. Successful companies are increasingly using transcreation to establish sincere connections with global consumers.

The same message may have a different resonance in different languages when translated conventionally. In cases where the message is related to marketing, these discrepancies may pose a significant issue. Linguist experts deal with this by having a native speaker localize the text and then undertake a second review to ensure accuracy.

Transcreation, on the other hand, is a more adaptable method that gives translators artistic freedom to customize that message to the target audience’s culture.

So, without further ado, let’s discuss transcreation in detail.

What Is Transcreation?

Translation and creative writing are combined to create transcreation. It entails modifying a source text’s message to fit the target audience’s cultural nuances and preferences. To achieve this, you must consider the original text’s context, tone, and intent and recreate it in a style that appeals to the intended audience.

It is used frequently when the goal of a marketing, advertising, or branding campaign lies in eliciting a particular emotional response from the target audience. However, a transcreated message may not employ the exact words as the original text, but it successfully makes a strong and culturally relevant point.

It can also be referred to as marketing translation, cross-market copywriting, creative translation, internationalization, and cultural adaptation. Regardless of the terminology, the meaning remains the same.

Translation, Transcreation, and Localization: What’s the Difference?

People often fail to draw distinctions between transcreation, localization, and translation. A common misconception is that the three concepts are the same. But the reality is far from it.

Translating a document’s text from one language to another while maintaining its original meaning is called translation. This literal approach could be necessary for the correct usage of a product or service, such as intricate user manuals or safety warnings.

Whereas, localization involves modifying the translated text to conform to the cultural norms of the target language. The localization specialist is usually a skilled translator with native language skills who also happens to be an authority on the topic of the content. One illustration would be a translator who also specializes in User Interface (UI) and has to deal with typical situations like button text that significantly varies in length when translated. Finding new wordings for the button that can be accommodated without losing its meaning would be localization.

On the other hand, in transcreation, the translator collaborates creatively with the original author to convey a tale in both languages. When used in business translation, this can entail rewriting the content in the target language or creating brand-new content, like advertisement copy, that is tailored to that culture.

Some GOOD Examples of Transcreation

If you still need to figure out how translation and transcreation differ, allow us to demonstrate with a few examples and help you understand how things can go either way. Let’s start by examining some of the world’s biggest brands’ successful efforts.

1. Coca-Cola’s Winning Transcreation Strategy for Every Country

Beyond its catchphrases, Coca-Cola transcreates a great deal of its material. The company has completely redesigned its websites for each country’s market to tailor the language, tone, images, and marketing materials to a particular audience and culture.

2. Nike’s Adaptation of Its Slogan ‘Just Do It’ for the Chinese Market

Nike is a prime example of a company whose slogans, such as “Just Do It,” don’t translate well into other languages, especially when they are translated word-to-word from English. Therefore, Nike masterfully used transcreation in its Chinese ads, creating a series of marketing campaigns that use words and images scripted to explain the idea behind the tagline “Just Do It.”

3. Intel’s Smart Debut in the Brazilian Market

Intel presents another example of how great transcreation works with its Brazilian launch. The computer chip maker Intel uses the slogan “Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow” in the US. However, the literal translation of that tagline into Portuguese, the native tongue of Brazil, suggested Intel would take some time to fulfill its promises. Thus, Intel updated the messaging used in Brazil to “Intel: In Love with the Future”.

4. Red Bull’s Bold Step to Change Their Product Packaging

Red Bull’s entry into the Chinese market is one of the best examples of transcreation done well. Red Bull centered its brand around the notion that its energy-boosting formula would enable you to accomplish more —after all, it gives you wings!

To ensure people in China understand the message, they did, however, make some significant alterations to their product and promotion before its launch in China. In China, carbonated drinks are not popular. So, they started by changing the formula to a non-carbonated one.

Next, they altered the can’s colors to red, gold, and black, representing luck, wealth, and fortune in China. Red Bull’s successful Chinese debut was a result of these notable brand modifications.

Some BAD Examples of Transcreation

After demonstrating how creative translations have aided brands in successfully entering foreign markets, let’s llook at a few companies that fell flat.

1. Pepsi Bringing Dead People Back In China

During the 1960s, Pepsi’s slogan was ‘Come Alive!’. In China, they introduced an identical, except it read as follows: “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.” I apologize! Transcreation obviously had a day off for this advertisement.

2. Eating Your Fingers with KFC

When KFC translated its well-known “Finger-Lickin’ Good” slogan for the people in China, things went just as wrong. It is a prime example of why literal translations don’t always fare well in different languages and cultures. When KFC’s well-known tagline was translated for the Mandarin market, it became “Eat your fingers off.” However, we are positive that this was not the message KFC intended to spread abroad!

3. Mitsubishi’s Pajero Launch in the Spanish Market

Mitsubishi Motors committed a serious transcreation error when they introduced the Pajero model in Spain. “Pajero” means “tosser” or “wanker” in Spanish. When they discovered the error, they decided to rename the product for the Spanish market under the name Monteiro. This is one example of countless scenarios that might have turned out differently if linguist experts were involved in international marketing campaigns.

4. Dolce & Gabbana Insulted the Entire Nation

Dolce & Gabbana is a large fashion house that dresses international superstars and well-known individuals. The company published a series of films on social media for the Chinese market in November 2018.

However, not everything went as planned. With a poorly thought-out ad campaign, Dolce & Gabbana insulted an entire nation and failed to learn the lesson of transcreation. One advertisement, for instance, features a Chinese woman trying to eat spaghetti and pizza with Italian dishes, while seated at a table.

On the surface, it may seem an innocent mistake. However, the Chinese audience accused Dolce & Gabbana of racism and of feeding negative stereotypes about Chinese people. Regardless of the brand’s initial objective, the advertisements were unsuccessful in the intended nation.

Leverage Transcreation Services: When and Why Do You Need It?

Transcreation can be an invaluable marketing tool for your company, particularly if you want to expand internationally.

You are not constrained by what is written in the original text when you use this technique. As a result, you sound more genuine and natural. It makes you relevant in communities and cultures that are strange to you. It will appear to viewers that your content is speaking directly to them and is more than just a continuation of your initial marketing campaign.

While translation can increase the number of individuals who comprehend your information, transcreation can connect with them and spark their interest in your offerings.

How Does a Transcreation Process Work?

Step 1 – Build Your Team: This usually entails employing native speakers who have a strong command of the source language, strong copywriting skills, and in-depth familiarity with the customs of the target nation.

Step 2 – Solid Understanding of the Content and Message: This is not something that can be understood literally. Translators need to understand the core of the original work and determine whether aspects can be successfully reinterpreted in a different cultural setting.

Step 3 – Drafting: Outline the creative direction and the components that must remain unchanged. Specialists wouldn’t know what to make without this document.

Step 4 – Writing: Transcreators need to combine their expertise with a solid understanding of the needs of their clients and the objectives that the new content needs to fulfill for the intended audience to complete this task.

Step 5 – Testing the Material: This will provide the team with useful insight for improvement and an indication of how the content will be received in the new market.

Bottom Line

This guide walked you through the explanation of transcreation, how it works, and why you need it. Besides, since most people confuse it with localization and translation, we also presented a discussion on their differences. For further clarification, we shared some good and bad examples of transcreation from popular brands.

If you are a business, with future goals to expand to new foreign markets, then transcreation can be an invaluable tool. Limegreen Media also offers transcreation services along with media localization.
Lime Green Media

Our multi-cultural teams do not simply “understand” customer needs; they are experts at fulfilling them. With our multi-channel solutions in place, we increase brand recognition and deliver key intelligence to our clients for core decision making.

Lime Green Media

Our multi-cultural teams do not simply “understand” customer needs; they are experts at fulfilling them. With our multi-channel solutions in place, we increase brand recognition and deliver key intelligence to our clients for core decision making.

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