Shaping a marketing campaign that will resonate on a global scale is no easy feat. You invest a considerable amount of resources into creating your campaign, and you want your campaign to connect with each new market that you target.
You have a few different options for translating marketing content: transcreation, marketing translation or adaptation. With the right approach, you can ensure that your marketing campaigns build brand awareness, drive engagement and increase revenue globally. Usually, transcreation is the approach we recommend when you take your marketing content global.
What is transcreation?
Transcreation is not the same as simply translating a text — this linguistic treatment focuses on adapting your source text to suit the cultural, linguistic and specific contexts of the customers that you want to reach. With a transcreation approach, the source text is a guide rather than a script to translate.
This approach allows linguists to communicate your message in a way that reaches, connects with and attracts your prospective customers.
Isn’t transcreation just a fancy word for copywriting?
Not at all! Unlike transcreation, the copywriting process doesn’t start with a source text. Instead, copywriting begins with a creative brief. The writer crafts the text from the very beginning in the desired language. The process of transcreation always begins with source material. With a focus on honoring the intent, not the words, of the original text, a transcreation adapts your text to another language and market. The most skilled transcreators are a combination of writer, artist and problem solver, using their varied skills to preserve the integrity and coherence of your brand’s voice and messaging.
The transcreation process
A linguist has several techniques to choose from when they approach the transcreation process. But in general, the process follows a few standard steps.
The preparation step entails creating a creative brief with important campaign details like: your business goals, your target audience, product details, your brand tone and voice, as well as the thought behind how you developed the creative content in the first place.
Next comes the translation step, in which a linguist prepares the rough translation of the content without paying particular attention to stylistic details.
In the third step, adaptation, the translation draft and creative brief are used in combination to adapt the text to the target market. This is when the second linguist joins the program. The linguist can usually work independently of the source text by this point. What the process itself looks like often depends on the linguist and how they prefer to work. My personal preference is to first write down the individual words and phrases that I’d like to use. Then, I read them out loud to get a feel for what it sounds like. I’d always recommend leaving enough time to complete a final review before the finished text has to be delivered — after a pause, it’s often easier to revisit the text and hear how it reads with fresh ears.
What the process itself looks like often depends on the linguist and how they prefer to work. My personal preference is to first write down the individual words and phrases that I’d like to use. Then, I read them out loud to get a feel for what it sounds like. I’d always recommend leaving enough time to complete a final review before the finished text has to be delivered — after a pause, it’s often easier to revisit the text and hear how it reads with fresh ears.
How is marketing translation different from transcreation?
Transcreation is quite different from marketing translation. Where translation focuses on communicating your source text’s exact message, transcreation is a more creative process that has a different relationship with the source text. It’s about adapting the original message to the target market: a shift of attention from the source text (translation) to the target text (transcreation).
A lot of research, consumer insight and work usually goes into creating slogans, headlines and tag lines. For these types of content, transcreation helps retain the original message’s impact and ensures it resonates with the target audience. But transcreation isn’t necessary for all types of marketing content — sometimes we need to respect the source material by bringing your reader to your text as opposed to bringing your text to your reader.
Examples of marketing content that probably can be translated are: websites, news releases and data sheets, which all should generally be translated. For other types of marketing content, using copy adaptation can really benefit the output.
How is adaptation different from transcreation?
For us at Acclaro, adaptation follows a rough translation as the last step of our transcreation process. At this point in the process, we ensure that the intended meaning of your marketing messaging reaches your target market. Taking the necessary steps to assure that the meaning of your message correctly translates to your intended audience may entail altering certain elements of the content, such as units of measurement, graphics, just to name a few.
How to know when to use transcreation
It’s important to understand that different messages require different linguistic treatment to retain their impact. So, the distinction between transcreation and translation really is important when it comes to global marketing efforts.
Define the source text’s role and your goals
First, it’s important to define the source text’s role and function, as well as your ultimate goals.
Do you want to bring your reader to your source content? Does the text hold ideas, feelings and facts that are possible to translate? If you can answer yes to both, then the text should be translated. The source text is always the basis of a high-quality translation, even a for a translated piece that flows seamlessly in the target language.
What if you answered no to one of the questions above? Do you want to make the reader feel something, or take a certain action? Then you may want to bring your source text to the reader, and transcreation may be what you need. With transcreation, you are not tied to your source text. You are free to craft the target content to meet your objectives.
Clarify your expectations
Last but not least, it is essential that your expectations are clearly defined from the beginning. This is because it’s difficult to switch to transcreation when you’re halfway through the translation process. Establishing clear expectations from the starting point will prevent misunderstandings and delays that may entail that the price to correct the issues will become too costly.
Set up your transcreation for success
When it comes to transcreation, you can set up your marketing content for success by remembering a few easy steps.
1. Share context, goals and guidance
Participation from the client at the beginning of the program is vital. In general, transcreation requires more guidance in terms of context and marketing goals. Since linguists do not use the source content as a guide, client input can help them explore the best way to communicate the message in your target language.
An important step is also for the client to inform all relevant stakeholders of how the process will work — this will ensure that everyone has the same expectations. Taking this action upfront helps prevent misunderstandings related to different definitions of quality. If not dealt with at the beginning, such misunderstandings can cause tension both in the client relationship as well as in the transcreation process.
2. Be aware of budget, marketing timeline and consistent branding
In order for your transcreation program to run smoothly, it’s important to be aware of what the transcreation process actually entails. You’ll need to keep in mind your budget, marketing timeline and branding both at the outset and during the course of the program. Generally, creating high-quality transcreations and marketing translations demands more time and expense than a standard translation, and these programs are frequently under-budgeted. Be aware that failing to determine which linguistic treatment to apply to creative content can drive costs even higher when you consider stress, loss of time, and the money and effort required to rework content.
3. Communicate goals early on
As mentioned above, it’s very important to start the program off with the right expectations for all involved. Reworking stylistic text involves much more than tweaking a few words. A translation involves interlocking parts that all rely on each other — removing or changing something could mean that the structural integrity of the text is compromised, and a full rewrite might be needed. This will likely cause delays and additional costs.
At the outset of the transcreation program, you’ll want to ensure that the linguist is clear on the intentions and aims of the program in order to streamline the process. Providing as much context as possible will be very helpful for the linguist to fully understand your intentions and objectives. Having to rework the text later to suit different goals or purposes can be challenging and costly.
Leverage the benefits of transcreation for your brand
For most companies, multilingual marketing requires major investment to generate interest and produce results. If you’re interested in marketing your content on a global level, transcreation is a valuable tool. With a firm understanding of what transcreation is, when to use it and how to successfully navigate the process, you can avoid wasting both money and time on messaging that falls flat.
With the right team on your side, your international marketing campaigns can increase conversion rates, improve ROI and achieve growth for your company. You can trust our experienced, in-country transcreation teams to help launch global campaigns on budget, on time, and with all the power of your brand’s voice. Contact us to find out how we can help you grow your global business today.