The Importance of Creative Translations (Transcreation)

By Stacey
Aug 20, 2015 · 3 min

Our world is become increasingly globalized and creative translations have become a necessity.

The Importance of Creative Translations (Transcreation) | One Hour Translation

Our world is become increasingly globalized and creative translations have become a necessity. In the translation world, creative translations are also referred to as ‘transcreation’. Today’s companies are facing the challenge of overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers in order to promote and sell their services or products in multiple countries and amongst different cultures.

How can we translate catalogues, descriptive brochures, slogans, invitations, product sheets, or web content? How can we attract our readers, whilst simultaneously being convincing and honouring the company’s communication standards? Obviously, it’s not enough to simply transcribe and deliver the same message in a foreign language: this would be the easy way, to just translate word per word. But it’s just as important to re-design the content and adapt each word to convey the message in a culturally acceptable manner; meaning to take into consideration local linguistic flavors and regionalisms without changing the meaning of the original message. In addition, it’s important to understand the target market and know if you’re aiming at a younger audience, an older one, a more academic audience, and so on.

Therefore, besides translating, the task also requires recreating the message by withdrawing from the original text, analysing it, then reconstructing it to evoke the same message: always using an appropriate vocabulary to suit the audience, and an adapted, more fluid, inventive style of writing. Basically, this just means that everyone involved must have a clear understanding of the target market.

Transcreation (or Creative Translation)

Transcreation is a word used mainly by marketing and advertising professionals, referring to the adaptation of a message from one language to another whilst still maintaining its style, intent, context and tone. A message that’s been successfully transcreated will carry the same implications and evoke the same emotions in the target language as it does in the source language. Today, transcreation is using increasingly in global advertising and marketing campaigns as advertisers look for ways to transcend language and cultural boundaries. There are other terms currently being used to describe transcreation, like ‘cross-market copywriting’, ‘marketing translation’, ‘localization’ and others, but the thrust is similar – basically, taking the essence of a specific message and re-creating it in a different language or dialect.

The Origin of the Term ‘Transcreation’

When the term ‘transcreation was first used in the 1960s and 70s it referred to the translation of creative ad copy. Then in the 1990s, advertising agencies and marketers with international accounts started using this term to distinguish this work from translation: implying that more than translation is required when taking an existing advertising campaign outside the source language.

Transcending Cultural and Language Boundaries

With markets continuing to widen, advertisers are facing special challenges. For marketing to be effective their advertisements must reach both hearts and minds. This requires the ability to transcend cultural and language boundaries in order to achieve a successful global marketing strategy. The copy must be translated correctly, and other factors like dialects, culture, humor, idiom, and context must also be considered. A perceived lack of respect for local values, cultures, beliefs or heritage could well have a negative impact on the target market. In order to meet these very specific challenges, businesses that market internationally are using transcreation, either via companies who specialize in transcreation or through their own advertising companies. The process requires great linguistic skills, expertise in marketing, and a thorough knowledge of targeted cultures.

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