Why are Apple fans fanatical? What makes Coke different? Why do some people feel loyalty to a can of beans?
Advertising has been called the art of persuasion. Like any art, it involves ideas and a degree of subtlety. When brands enter new markets, that subtlety is often the first casualty. Just ask Pepsi. In China their slogan “Come alive. You’re in the Pepsi generation” was famously translated at “Pepsi brings your relatives back from the dead”. Perhaps not the promise they intended.
Pepsi’s fumble is a clear illustration of the difference, and the dangers of confusing translation and transcreation. Translation relies on experts of language to carry meaning into new languages. Transcreation relies on creative thinkers and writers to carry ideas into new cultures. More than a simple assessment of semantics, transcreation demands going back to the root of an idea to understand it completely. A transcreator needs to be skilled in the language of ideas and in the nuances and languages of different cultures. All of our transcreators have working experience of brand and marketing communications. Many have worked as advertising copywriters.
So when do you know that you need transcreation, and not simply translation? Transcreation is most commonly required for marketing and advertising. It helps brands retain the power of their communications, changing the way things are expressed to introduce an idea in a way that will resonate with a target culture. But it’s also relevant to material that’s trying to tick any of the following boxes.
Got a booklet, an instruction manual, a list of terms and conditions? You don’t need transcreation. Got a TV campaign that has people weeping in their seats? You need more than translation. To evoke emotion you need a to understand what makes people from different cultures react in the same way. Sometimes that involves going beyond the language to go the core of an idea.
Why is Charlie Chaplin funny in different languages? Because he never speaks. When was the last time you told a funny joke in a language not your own? Humour is perhaps the hardest nut to crack in the translation business. If you need a snigger, Transcreation is your best shot.
Brand names, slogans and taglines tend to be abstract. That makes them incredibly hard to pin down accurately in different languages. The marketing world is littered with brands that didn’t appreciate the impact of their own language. When translated for the Mexican market, Parker Pen’s slogan “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” was communicated as “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”. An undefinably unique benefit for a pen, but not one that made it a huge hit in Guadalajara. To get your point across as intended, ask for transcreation.
Brightlines handles transcreation for some of the biggest brands on the planet. As an international brand ourselves, we are fully qualified to deal with the challenges of introducing brands and ideas to different cultures. Every transcreation job follows three key stages.
1. The brief
There is no type of job we handle where the brief plays a more important role. Beyond the languages and cultures involved, we have to be sure our team understand the campaign or idea inside out. Only when we are completely clear, we will start work on bringing the concept to life for a new audience.
Brightlines gives you access to highly qualified writers and thinkers in countries all over the world. Many have working experience in advertising and marketing. The depth of their professional knowledge, and their heightened cultural awareness will give your idea the best possible chance to be embraced by a different culture. In addition to the language, this phase will often pick up on issues with design and imagery. Localisation and transcreation go hand in hand to ensure every detail and cultural nuance is considered.
3. Test. Test.
Unlike translation which often delivers a single end product, transcreation always requires a discussion. We will often furnish you with several different options, complete with back-translations, for you to decide which approach most faithfully expresses the original idea and the brand tone. Given permission, will also test the work with native audience respondents to be make sure our thinking is on the money.
The growing need for advertising campaigns to be adapted for different cultures was one of the reasons Brightlines was formed in 1999. We’ve been successfully introducing campaigns to new cultures for more than 20 years from our offices in Corsham and London.
Efficiency and scale
When we work with global brands, the sheer scale can be staggering. To meet that need, we’ve built a support network that traverses borders and industries. We take the headache out of managing large and highly demanding projects.
We’re experts in transcreation for global marketing. If you’d like us to help you reach your international markets or your global team, please give us a call.