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Transcreation is a distinct translation process that is mainly used to describe the cross-cultural adaptation of advertising and marketing copy. The process is more than a straight translation; rather it is a creative writing and localisation process that is carried out by specialised mother-tongue translators who are also copywriters. Often advertising campaigns will be recreated from scratch in order to get the same impact within a different culture, so effectively, transcreation is not translation per se.
Transcreations have been carried out for thousands of years as sacred, historical and classic writings have been creatively adapted for others to read and relate to. However the term “transcreation” was popularised in the 1960s as advertising agencies used it to describe the translation of creative advertising copy. The word “transcreation” was even registered as a UK trademark in 2000 by UPS, but this expired in 2010 and further attempts to register it have been refused as it is now a commonly, if not rather ambiguously used term.
Transcreation is an amalgamation of ‘translation’, and ‘creation’. The word has no formal definition and has not yet been accepted by Oxford Dictionaries (the author of this article has submitted it to Oxford and Macmillan). Transcreation even causes confusion and much debate within the translation industry. Until now!
Transcreation is a very creative process and it is quite usual to interpret and deviate from the original copy in order to get the same emotive message across-cultures. In a translation true meaning and style must be maintained as close to the original text as possible with focus on readability and (depending on client requirements) no deviation from the original meaning occurs. Of major significance is that a transcreator is a translator and a copywriter. As with all translators, residency within the mother-tongue country is invaluable to ensure on the ball cultural sensitivities and cutting edge language use.
Transcreation is – strictly speaking – the adaptation of marketing and advertising copy for global markets. That does cover a broad range of copy, and includes internal and external communications across industries. If you have hired an advertising agency or copywriter chances are you will need a transcreation service to maximise your campaign globally.
Transcreation is a specialism. To reiterate, transcreators are translators who are also copywriters. A typical transcreator will be a qualified native mother-tongue translator, with a higher qualification such as a Masters or PhD (often both) within the field of communications. They will typically be members of various country-specific copywriting associations and will have considerable copywriting experience, usually around a minimum of 5 years, but 20-30 years of experience is not uncommon. Matching that experience with the transcreation job is key. Natutally transcreators are creative and lateral thinkers who know how to use words to get the desired emotional response from their native audience.
Typical projects are for example: brand slogans and taglines, advertising campaigns, product information, website content, apps and games. A client can require transcreation of a slogan into 1 or 2 languages, or larger campaigns involving multiple languages and multiple texts. It may also be that there is an element of transcreation required alongside standard translation.
Transcreation is a term mainly used by those in the world of advertising and translation. That is copywriters, advertising and marketing agencies, design houses and translation agencies that specialise in global marketing and communications. Creative agencies such as these know it to mean specialist translation and localisation of advertising copy, but the term can sometimes loosely be used to describe the translation and localisation of highly crafted advertising and marketing content or copy in general.
A good brief is vital. The original copy is usually written for one well-known local audience. To achieve the same emotive message across cultures requires sensitive and highly creative cross-cultural modification that retains corporate branding. A specialist translation agency, as with your creative agency, will need to get to know your brand and its products, identify tone of voice and understand the purpose of the message to be conveyed. A choice of styles may be provided at the early stages. Back translations are often supplied especially on shorter texts and slogans where a number of versions will be supplied. The transcreation process is very creative and client feedback should be positively encouraged.
For advertising campaigns, particularly slogans and snappy creative marketing text it is usual for translation agencies to supply a few options with back translations.Clients don’t often speak the target language so a back translation offers a meaning. Back translations are very literal, they make sense, but may sound a bit unrefined. Back translations are also often used in medical translations as a form of linguistic validation.
Yes, here are a few! Adaptation, creative translation, cross-market copywriting, international copy adaptation, cultural adaptation, foreign language copywriting.
Yes, transcreation is basically foreign language copywriting and is therefore normally charged by the hour or at a fixed cost rather than by the word. If you take Coca-Cola, notable for its advertising slogans, to get the same iconic slogans across cultures takes some considerable research, thought and creativity, and is not a simple 2 to 10 word translation.
There are plenty more transcreation blunders to be found out there. Next time you are planning a global campaign have a chat with a translation agency specialising in marketing and communications, they’ll happily advise you.