It’s easy to laugh at a bad translation. Case in point: American Airlines’ “Fly in Leather” tagline became “Fly Naked” in Spanish. Yet it’s no joke for brands that invest millions of dollars into international marketing. So, how do you ensure your slogan, tagline, or multilingual ad campaign conveys the right message? With transcreation, of course.
Transcreation examples that helped clients resonate across markets
Transcreation, or copy adaptation, allows brands to reimagine the original copy while maintaining the context, style, tone, and intent for the target market. Linguists often use it to recreate messaging, word play, or expressions when there is no equivalent in the target language. However, whether you should use translation or transcreation can be subjective—which is why we’re highlighting four examples to help you decide.
Transcreation of headlines and taglines
Due to their visibility, headlines and taglines are two of the most popular candidates for transcreation. And they often undergo significant changes to recreate the same message.
Here are two examples of how much the copy can change across European languages.
We partnered with a client in the eCommerce marketplace sector to translate the combination headline and tagline for their Mother’s Day campaign. The original copy read:
Mom’s Favorite Things: Find a veritable bouquet of extraordinary pieces for the design-loving mom.
Given the common practice of sending flowers on Mother’s Day, we asked our translators to keep the “bouquet” imagery in the target language, if appropriate. Here’s how they did it.
Our French linguists transcreated the headline/tagline to:
Les coups de cœur de maman: Découvrez un véritable bouquet d’articles irrésistibles à offrir aux mamans amatrices de design.
This means, “Mom’s Favorites: Discover a real bouquet of irresistible items to offer to design-loving mothers.” Les coups de cœur, the translation they chose for “favorites” literally means “hits of the heart”, but more roughly translates to “falling for something.” The French copy captures the same message by saying Mom will fall in love with the promotional items.
Our German linguists transformed the same copy into:
Was Mütter lieben: Entdecken Sie eine unwiderstehliche Auswahl an Objekten für Mütter, die Design lieben.
This means, “What mothers love: Discover an irresistible selection of objects for moms who love design.” As you can see, they were unable to replicate the “bouquet” imagery, as there is no appropriate German phrase for it. Instead, they mirrored the bounty of flowers with the phrase “irresistible selection.”
Both examples reflect the ways in which a language’s structure and figures of speech impact a translation. But thanks to transcreation, our linguists were able to strike the right emotional tone in French and German.
Transcreation for global marketing campaigns
Global marketing campaigns also make great candidates for transcreation. From customer engagement to seasonal sales, it helps you get your message across in ways translation alone can’t. Below are two examples of how transcreation enables you to connect with global customers—regardless of their language.
Weekly, dynamic email campaigns
One of our clients sends customers weekly personalized emails that are tailored to their personal preferences, profile data, and available product inventory. Because the emails are dynamically populated, translations must work for each use case and remain dynamically correct, no matter the gender or plurality of the item. This often involves completely rewriting any sentence that contains one or more of these variables.
Although it takes extra work, transcreation ensures every email sounds natural in the recipient’s preferred language. And given that the median email marketing ROI is 122%, it’s well worth the investment.
Online retail events
The largest eCommerce website in the Muslim world wanted to launch a Black Friday-style campaign the same weekend as the U.S. sales event. Yet they faced two major problems. Not only is the color black associated with sad or tragic events in the region, but Friday is considered a day of worship in Islam.
To address these cultural differences, they reimagined “Black Friday” as “White Friday,” and marketed the sale as a celebration of goodness, sanctity, and family. One online vendor in Pakistan announced their participation with the following headline:
In the Muslim world, Friday is the day of prayer, the day of gathering, the day off, the family day, the day of joy, so surely … our Friday is WHITE!
The inaugural “White Friday” was a huge success in 2014, and has only increased in popularity since. The website alone sold 600,000 items in 2015, and sales nearly doubled to 1 million the following year. Today, numerous online retailers hold “White Friday” sales events, which now last up to four days to give customers more time to shop.
As the popularity of “White Friday” shows, the transcreation itself may be simple, but the cultural meaning and relevance can go much deeper.
Transcreation for global B2B corporate marketing
Transcreation isn’t limited to B2C brands. Today, B2B branding is more important than ever as companies undergo digital transformations and face increasing competition both online and off. Superior specs and personal relations are no longer enough, and B2B brands must now connect with customers on an emotional level. Below are two examples of brands that did it right.
Multilingual sales decks
An IT services company wanted to produce content that went beyond highlighting technical solutions to showcase a new brand voice that was human and full of personality. To introduce the rebrand to global clients, the company transcreated its promotional sales deck into 11 different languages.
In English, one slide reads:
Here’s to the stubborn
A celebration of the people who change things through sheer, bullheaded persistence.
In Dutch, it became:
Een eerbetoon aan eigenwijsheid
Dit is een ode aan koppige mensen en hun hardnekkige doorzettingsvermogen om de wereld te veranderen.
It means: A tribute to stubbornness. This is an ode to stubborn people and their stubborn perseverance to change the world.
Instead of focusing on product features, the original sales deck connects with IT professionals by celebrating their commitment to innovation. The transcreation captures the same sentiment by highlighting the same personality traits that exist across cultures.
Multilingual corporate brochures
A German plastics manufacturer wanted to reach buyers in the English and Italian language markets by adapting its corporate brochures through transcreation. The goal was to preserve the company’s personality and core values, which include empathy and clarity.
The original German language brochure used wordplay throughout that had to be transcreated, including an acrostic where each letter of a sentence uses a new word. The linguists started by translating the brochure into English and then translated the English version into Italian.
In English, one headline became:
We get things done.
And the accompanying acrostic spells:
Deep understanding. Onsite. Network of experts. Execution excellence.
In Italian, it became:
La nostra parola d’ordine: “fare”.
And the acrostic spells:
Forte comprensione del cliente. Attenzione al servizio. Rete di esperti. Eccellenza.
The headline means:
Our watchword: “to do”.
And the acrostic, which means “to do” in English, spells:
Strong customer understanding.
Attention to service.
Network of experts.
In this case, transcreation was necessary to recreate the acrostic in English and Italian. When you translate it from Italian back into English, the message is no longer clear. That’s because the word “sane” in English isn’t associated with expertise or efficiency. Therefore, if you use any kind word play, you’ll likely need transcreation to properly convey your message in other languages.
As you can see, transcreation transforms your brand’s message for global audiences to ensure maximum impact. When done right, it helps you connect with customers by adapting your message to match the linguistic and cultural nuances of the target market. You’ll not only improve your brand image, but will enjoy greater loyalty when customers feel like you understand them.
At Acclaro, our transcreation experts work with you to adapt your message for any language. From marketing campaigns to website localization, we provide the guidance you need to ensure your international launch is a success.
Want to learn more about how transcreation fits into your global marketing plans? Contact us today.