The Difference between Marketing Translation and Transcreation


I am often asked what the difference between a marketing translation and a transcreation is.

“If transcreation is the translation of advertising, then isn’t it the same as marketing translation?”

Well, no. While a marketing translation can include brochures, catalogs, and a  vast array of promotional messages, transcreation involves a different and longer process, similar to the creation of an ad, a slogan, or a jingle for example.

Let’s understand how the creation of an ad is done, then we will jump to transcreation.

When the client decides to  create a new advertising campaign, the advertising agency receives  a  briefing from the client, with details about the brand, the product or  service, the current image in the market, the image in the past, desired changes, competion, and many other details, along with their expected results in terms of customers mindshare and sales.

The  advertising agency team, will usually take a few days to study all  relevant information about the brand and product, analyzing the  advertising history of the brand, the product, information from customers, visual communication, mission and vision of the company,  briefing from client, competition in the market and from there they will start brainstorming and giving shape to a new campaign.

The copywriter and the arts director are the main professionals involved in this process.

Both copywriter and arts director are responsible for presenting their creation pieces to the client, assisted by the account manager, who is the usual contact for the client.

When the client approves  an advertising campaign and decides to expand it to international markets, the transcreator enters the scene.

The process of recreating an existing ad, to make it sound and look exactly like the original piece is basically the same as with a creative agency. It is  necessary for the transcreator, to once again, rethink the steps, brainstorming and this time, also considering all the market details from the  target country.

While translation of marketing materials can be  usually done in a matter of hours, just like in any translation, transcreation actually utilizes at least 5-7 days to have the relevant  information analyzed and then have the message recreated, just like it happens in a creative agency.

The general assumption in the translation industry is that transcreation should be treated like localization, which is the act if adapting texts according to the local culture.

There is certainly an element of localization in the process, except that it is not only limited to that, but dependable of other local creative   aspects, local market, and local behavior. It involves a  whole lot of creative thinking and it cannot be done in 24 hours, or it could spoil the results.

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