Why have so few business clients heard of transcreation?

Transcreation is the process by which marketing materials are adapted for use in other countries. Encompassing far more than just translation services, the process can mean a complete overhaul of the images and messages used to market a company. Essentially,
transcreation services allow marketers to develop materials that evoke the same feelings, emotional responses and calls to action in individuals in a range of locations, while the materials themselves can differ substantially.

Marketing translation or marketing transcreation?

Strangely, it is a concept that comes as a surprise to many business clients, based on the experience of many translation agencies. Clients tend to approach agencies for translation of their marketing materials, as they seek to tackle overseas markets, with many underestimating the scale of the changes they will need to make to the documentation in order to succeed in those markets.

When it comes to global advertising, one size definitely does not fit all. However, many companies assume that the ability to connect with the world via the internet means that they can share their marketing materials around the globe, with just the text translated. This is a long way from the reality of the situation, and a request for marketing translation often turns into a larger creative marketing translation – or transcreation – project. 

Transcreation skill requirements.

Not every translator can provide transcreation services. There are notable differences in being good with languages and being good at marketing. Successful transcreation experts need to be both. They have to be able to get into the mindset of the target audience, then create engaging materials that reflect the spirit of the original materials while adapting them to suit the culture, humour, slang and other idiosyncrasies of the target country. Design skills are also often useful when it comes to transcreation. Imagery is definitely not a
one size fits all subject, particularly when people are the focus. A good transcreation specialist, therefore, needs to be able to work with the visual elements of a project as well as having the necessary translation skills.

Ultimately, transcreation is a specialist area of business translation that requires plenty of creative expertise. The internet may have given rise to the notion that the right campaign can just go viral and spread around the globe, but the reality is that targeting global audiences takes specialist knowledge and hard work. Marketing translation alone won’t always deliver the desired results, but transcreation can.


Want to know more about transcreation? Check out Iris Chen’s article:

Multicultural Copywriting & Transcreation – A Bigger Than Bigger Challenge


Author Bio:

Louise Taylor is head of English content for the Tomedes translation agency in Beaverton, USA & Tel Aviv, Israel. She writes about everything from translation industry news to the quirks of working with languages.

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