February 20, 2019 |
Transcreation (surprise, surprise) is a mix of translation and creation. This means that translators don’t stop at rewriting the text in a different language. They adapt it to make the meaning behind the words understandable by specific audiences.
Transcreation keeps the original intent of the communication, as well as its tone of voice and context. However, its main goal is to make the message more accessible to broader audiences who speak other languages and have a different cultural background.
The term has become popular over the last 20-30 years, as a direct consequence of more brands looking to promote themselves in front of an international public.
Transcreation and localization are similar concepts, without being interchangeable. Transcreation is an essential part of web, app, and video game localization, as it refers to adapting messages from one language to another.
The difference lies in the fact that the term localization covers both the translation of content and the technical changes performed to make the content accessible to an international audience.
Translators often do some form of transcreation for branding materials, idioms, taglines, country-specific phrases and expressions, humor, and wordplay. These are all things that have a meaning in one culture but don’t resonate with people from different cultures.
With transcreation, brands can use their well-studied slogans for international audiences that otherwise couldn’t understand the meaning behind a wordplay.
Think about what you do when you’re telling a joke to your parents, and you need to change a word or two to help them understand it better.
To take it one step further, localization would include calling your parents to tell the joke rather than sending a voice message on WhatsApp, since your parents may not be familiar with the app!
Transcreation and marketing translation are pretty much the same, with the slight difference that sometimes the translator or transcreator doesn’t have an original version of the content to work with.
Instead, the professional translator receives a transcreation brief as a source of inspiration for creating original content that is highly-customized for a specific audience.
The two terms (transcreation and marketing translation) are often used to describe the same concept. That is, rewriting branding materials and sales collateral for a local audience, as well as redesigning them to meet a native’s public expectations.
Many brands use both transcreation and marketing translation to enhance their local presence in countries where the original English version or a word-to-word translation wouldn’t mean anything to the public.
Nike, for example, changed its famous “Just do it” tagline into “Dare to Become” for the Chinese market. Many local audiences accepted the company’s slogan across the globe. But in Chinese, a plain translation wouldn’t have reflected the brand’s values.
In this case, transcreation helped marketers to come up with an engaging message that kept the original intent of the tagline.
Transcreation can help global companies to reach the cultural understanding that allows them to consolidate their positions in local markets. It’s a way of creating more “local” versions of their brands without damaging the overall global image.
When a brand invests in customizing its marketing materials to address specific audiences, it does more than increasing communication efficiency.
A culturally sensitive global brand wins over local competitors and, in time, builds brand loyalty in different parts of the world. It’s an excellent way of consolidating your market share in local markets, especially in countries from Asia or South America.
Transcreation increases the impact a brand has in local markets, by making it look and feel closer to the public. Everybody knows Coca-Cola is a global company, but people continue to resonate with its messages because the brand uses transcreation to connect with local audiences.
It changed its name for the Chinese market and created local versions of the “Share a Coke” campaign, to increase engagement. The company also publishes localized content for most of its local websites.
Localization can boost SEO, and transcreation significantly contributes to optimizing your localized content for search engines.
For this to happen, you need to do keyword research every time you localize your content for a new market. This way, you identify the right phrases and words that people use to search for your product or service online.
Once you know the relevant keywords for your industry, transcreators can rewrite your content in the local language using these specific phrases. All keywords will be integrated into your content naturally, making your website more appealing to both search engines and website visitors.
Furthermore, transcreation increases the value of your copy, making it more readable for local audiences. People who land on your website spend more time on your page and engage with your content, sending Google (and other search engines) a strong signal about the quality of your site.
Relevant keywords, time on page, and your conversion rate are all crucial ranking factors that can help you improve your position in search results. This will allow you to drive more targeted traffic in the long run.
Three in four internet users don’t speak English. With each new language you localize for, you create more business opportunities for your company.
Having a consistent message in local languages is the best marketing strategy to achieve a global presence. What you say and the way you choose to say it are equally important in most cultures, not only in English.
Languages and dialects are nuanced, and transcreation helps companies to overcome the language and cultural barriers between their brands and the final customers. For many global giants like Coca-Cola, Red Bull, or Unilever, transcreation and localization have been powerful brand loyalty generators.
Luckily, you don’t need to be Coca-Cola to use transcreation and localize your website, app, software, or marketing. Nowadays, most language services providers such as ourselves include transcreation in their services, to help clients consolidate their positions in local markets.