Transcreation - Creative Flair

Transcreation: Preserving Your Brand’s Creative Flair in Global Markets

Category: Marketing Translation


If you’ve got a lot invested in your creative content —whether it serves to convert prospects, carve out your brand niche or carefully groom your burgeoning international reputation — transcreation will be an unavoidable pit stop on your path to global.

Transcreation, also known as cross-market copywriting, creative translation, and cultural adaptation, is a unique translation method for recreating the flair, panache, humor, catchiness, rhythm, stickiness, poetry and flavor of your English creative copy in your target language(s).

The transcreative process is a bit like unwrapping a piece of candy (the core message behind your creative campaign) and rewrapping it in a new linguistic and cultural “wrapper”. The overall impact of the message remains unchanged (i.e. it still tastes like butterscotch), but the end result is not necessarily an “accurate” translation. It may (and will typically) diverge a bit from the literal meaning of the original, especially when your English content is well peppered with puns, slang, jargon, word plays, clichés, cultural references and American humor.

“Transcreators”, specialized marketing translators, are the ones tasked with this highly artistic process of reinventing/recreating/rebuilding your creative copy in their native languages. This is a tall order, as you can well appreciate given the time, money and effort you invested in your English content.

Indeed, not just any old transcreation will suffice for your mission-critical jingle, slogan or ad campaign. You need the seasoned hand of talented wordsmiths in each of your destination countries. These copywriting translators should reach way beyond a textbook knowledge of their language. They need to keep up with the pulse of street talk, pop culture and social evolution in their country and therein derive the inspiration for fashioning language that resonates with your desired audience.

So what steps can you take to ensure that you’re getting world-class transcreation services?

For starters, ask your translation agency how they select their translators. Get familiar with their process and criteria for hiring/vetting and make sure both are geared towards one outcome: quality, quality, quality. Ask for a presentation on their transcreation approach and work samples for multiple language markets. They should have a track record of successful transcreation projects and examples of impactful, spot-on creative content that achieved their clients’ marketing objectives.

Next, invest some time in a transcreation brief. This is a cheat sheet that summarizes all the vital information about your campaign — business goals, target audience demographics, important product information, intended voice and tone, language nuances, words that should remain in English and the overall thought process that went into producing your creative content.

Now take a moment to wrap your head (and your managers’ heads) around creative license. As mentioned earlier, your transcreations won’t necessarily look like multilingual mirror images of your English. Give your translators some creative space and juice to come up with out-of-the-box solutions. You’ll be much more satisfied with the output.

Finally — line up a team of in-country reviewers who are a/ very familiar with your brand, including its voice, values and objectives and b/native speakers of the languages in which your business needs to communicate. These reviewers will serve as the sounding board for the “stories”that your transcreators weave together about your products or services. You want to ensure they fully understand the intention of your English messaging and can evaluate the effectiveness and quality of the transcreations.

If you set the bar high for the quality you want to achieve with your marketing transcreations and select the right translation partner to help you bridge the language gap, your brand’s creative flair will strike ac hord with international customers and hopefully have a healthy impact on your bottom line in the process.

Photo Credit: Nabeel Syed