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Talented Transcreation

By Julie Fry, 

In a world of snazzy job titles where ‘Thought Leaders’ share offices with ‘Brand Evangelists’, you might be mistaken for wondering what a ‘Transcreator’ does for a living. I mean ‘Transcreation’? It’s just another buzzword that marketing bods use to make themselves sound clever, isn’t it? No. Actually transcreation, and top-notch transcreators, are essential if you’re thinking about marketing your brand abroad.

To understand what transcreation is, and to see why it’s necessary, we need to look at an example of a well-known tagline. Bell (subsequently AT&T), a leading telecoms company in the US, used the famous tagline ‘Reach out and touch someone’. To English speakers, it is obvious what the tagline means. It means pick up the phone and connect with someone on an emotional level. Give Auntie Mabel a call, and thank her for the bath salts and socks that she got you for Christmas and make her day…or something along those lines.

Transcreators are experts in creative marketing copy

But what would happen if we needed to translate this tagline to market AT&T abroad? The translation of this phrase would quite literally mean ‘reach out and touch someone, extend your arm and touch the person in front of you with your hand’. It’s a perfectly good translation of the phrase but it tells us nothing about the brand. It would certainly leave potential foreign customers a bit confused about what exactly was on offer at Bell.

In cases like this, a translation is not enough: what you need is transcreation. You need someone who will understand your brand and know how best to get your message across in their country. That’s what transcreators do. They are experts in marketing. They can transform taglines and marketing material in your language into something that works in theirs.

Transcreation is a highly creative speciality.

So do you trusting your brand, tagline or marketing material to a transcreator and standing back while they work their creative magic on it? Well, to a certain extent yes, but any transcreator worth their salt will ask for supporting information. You will be actively encouraged to give pointers on the tone of voice of your company and a few words about the character of your brand. You could even pass on some past campaigns for the transcreator to mull over so that they can get an idea of what you are all about.

One important thing to bear in mind when considering enlisting the help of a transcreator is that transcreation is a highly creative speciality. Transcreators generally require more time to weave their magic than a translator might take to translate the same phrase. In depth research will be carried out on your brand and your competitors brands. A transcreator will also usually want to offer some justification for their choice of words. This is usually in the form of a back translation, their reasoning and some cultural commentary. As with any creative process, it is not uncommon for various drafts to pass between client and transcreator. This is perfectly normal and actively encouraged. Additional time should be factored into your project plan to allow for this.

Both the words transcreation and transcreator are being underlined as I type by the automatic spellchecker. This just goes to show that, although the terms have been around since the 1990s, they have still not made it into our mainstream vocabulary. A quick internet search will show that the origins of these terms are hotly debated. Many people claimed to have coined the phrase!

If you would like to find out more about the transcreation services we offer please get in touch or call direct 01225 580770 or fill in the form. Maybe you wold like to find out if you need transcreation, or what the difference is between transcreation and ordinary translation?

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