Transcreation: a world beyond translation
Updated: 4 days ago
Author: Margherita Baraldi
Date of Publication: 10/04/2023
The concept of transcreation has been around since the 1960s. However, it became famous thanks to the overbearing advent of the Internet. Nowadays, it is one of the main allies of brands worldwide.
But what is this "new" skill that promises excellent results to companies and prestige to the transcreators who possess it? Is dear old translation no longer enough? Can any bilingual expert provide this service? Transcreation in this article, you will find all the answers to these questions.
Translation + Creation
As the title suggests, the term "transcreation" is coined from the words "translation" and "creation." Basically, it's a cultural adaptation that goes through the partial or total rewriting of a promotional message from one language to another. In doing so, transcreation distances itself from both translation and copywriting.
The main difference between translation and transcreation lies in the degree of creativity and equivalence to the original. On the one hand, translation focuses on the words and structure of a message. On the other hand, transcreation is a dynamic process in which the source message is analyzed in all aspects.
Regarding copywriting, the degree of freedom is what differentiates it from transcreation. On the one hand, the copywriter is free to create commercial text from scratch, obviously within the limits of the client's instructions. Conversely, the transcreator doesn't have to be faithful to the source text. However, it must retain the same purpose and reaction among its target audience. In a nutshell, it must know how to astonish in the same way and intensity as the source message. To do this, it is not vital to use the same words as the original text but to pursue the same purpose.
The million-dollar question: what do we transcreate?
The main field of transcreation is advertising. In this case, the transcreator's task would be adapting slogans, headlines, payoffs, or radio/TV scripts. At the same time, it can also be a helpful marketing tool. Contrary to popular belief, transcreation and marketing translation are not two watertight compartments but two sides of the same coin.
In a nutshell, when the structure of the source text can be easily understood, we are dealing with a marketing translation. On the contrary, when we have to rewrite the original version, we are most likely measuring ourselves with a transcreation.
Transcreation doesn't mean simply translating. Nor does it mean writing creative texts in other languages. The transcreators use their skills so that a customer in any country can grasp the same message. It's a job of absolute immersion in the culture of the place.
To understand the importance of cultural sensitivity and the value of marketing transcreation to your business, take a look at the Hall of Shame. A clear example of a company that stood out in a particularly negative way is Puma.
Indeed, the brand experienced the pitfalls of poor cultural and linguistic awareness. The reason goes back to a choice made in 2011. That year, Puma decided to produce a new shoe model to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates.
Specifically, the product has drawn several criticisms. The placement of the country's flag on the shoe was perceived as trivializing and even disrespectful. According to the target culture, shoes are considered "dirty." It goes without saying that if you want to sponsor a brand, you shouldn't insult the symbol of the consumer nation.
In conclusion, what works in one country doesn't necessarily work in another. So, in an increasingly globalized era, this is why transcreation has become a strategic skill for international companies.