What is transcreation and where is it most used?

Transcreation by Brazil Translated

One person asked in Quora: “I have heard it is often used in a marketing context but why not just translate the material?”

Here is my answer:

Transcreation is a marketing and advertising term that refers to the process of adapting an advertising piece from one language to another, while keeping its intent, style, tone and context. Transcreation is used in international marketing and advertising campaigns as advertisers seek more and more to go beyond language and culture limits.

It is also known as creative translation, international translation and the popular localization term, the latter not the most adequate jargon though.
It is necessary to clarify that localization is the actual process generally related to the cultural adaptation and translation of websites, software and video games. It is less frequently related to common translation (which may also involve cultural adaptation processes). Localization is also used in regions or countries where people speak the same language but with cultural differences and language variation such as Spanish from Spain and from South America, English from USA and from England and Portuguese from Portugal and from Brazil for example. While words are similar in countries speaking the same language, many of these words have completely different meanings.

Transcreation on the other hand, is a new term, specifically created by marketers and advertising agencies with international accounts in order to categorize translations of global marketing materials and advertising campaigns and separate them from common translations, tailoring the message to the target, even if using different words to achieve the accuracy of the message.
It aims to take the essence of a message and re-create it in another language or dialect. This means that a global campaign needs more than a simple and literal message translation to communicate its real intent. Transcreation must remain loyal to the emotional meaning of the message, not to each word of the source language as it happens with translation.

So again, what’s the difference between Transcreation and Translation with Localization?
Let’s have a look at the definition of Translation to see how it differs from a Transcreation:

“Translation is the process of translating words or text from one language into another.” This is the simple intent from translation. Obviously nowadays there is not such a thing as a literal translation, be it technical or a material from any nature. It is implied that a translation of a message will always have the localization done to the target source and it will need to be done by native speakers/native translators that have complete knowledge of their targeted culture.
Most of translations with localization can be applied to websites, online games, software and some other internet materials.

Transcreation is the actual work done for advertising, jingles, marketing campaigns and even names of global brands (or regional brands that plan to be launched as global). It is performed by transcreators, translators and translation agencies using advertising and marketing expertise. It is also performed by creative agencies that look after a particular brand and strive to tailor the message with accuracy around the world. These professionals must have a deep understanding of the targeted culture with its values and beliefs, be native speakers, be expert writers in oder to have confidence enough to change all necessary wording that will reflect the correct emotion and make the message accurate.

The Transcreation term originated in the UK and was quickly adopted by American marketers. It is recognized in Asian, European and Latin markets.
Adopting the Transcreation term means more than just consider one’s culture and language in a translation process but also means that global companies recognize real risks and how harmful it could be to their businesses if they create a negative impact on international markets, especially if heritage, humour and context are ignored when they shouldn’t.

Transcreation requires that translation agencies and translators carry an expertise in advertising and marketing areas, as well as linguistic skills with the ability to interpret and adapt contents. It is necessary that these professionals have serious knowledge of their targeted markets. It is even more than necessary for them to be able to create an emotional connection between the message and the targeted consumer.

Need to have your advertising and campaigns transcreated for Brazilian audiences?

Contact me for a chat. I provide transcreations having your target in mind, with free consultation all the way during our projects.


Transcreator – braziltranslated.com

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