Transcreation Made Simple

So you’ve heard of translation – the process of converting text in one language into another – but have you heard of “transcreation”?

If not, then this is for you.

Transcreation is the process of taking a message that has been created, imagined or written in one language and then conveying it in another language. It’s not about the words, like in translation, but about the intent – the message – and how best to convey that message in the new language, country or culture.

It’s a relatively new term that has come about in the last decade or so from the advertising, marketing, entertainment and language service industries.

An example of this is the global popularity of the character Spider-Man. Created in America it became such a success that an Indian version was launched with Peter Parker becoming Pavitr Prabkakar. He now derives his powers from a yogi rather than a radioactive spider, swings from monuments such as the Taj Mahal and the Green Goblin becomes Rakshasa, an Indian mythological demon all making the mythology of Spiderman more relevant to the Indian audience.

Get it?

The use of transcreation in marketing material is extremely important because it will contain elements that are unique to a culture; examples being ideas, puns, cultural references, layout preferences, imagery, colouring and connotation.

In a way transcreation is like asking someone to rewrite your own work but in their own words. In this case the words are in a different language and the writer reconstructs the message emphasizing the facts most important to the reader in the target language.

During the process of transcreation the information may be restructured in order to make the inherent message of the marketing piece more relevant to the target audience. Good marketing copy must establish trust. It must convey empathy and convince the target that the voice behind the words understands their unique situation. It should be full of emotion, nuance and colloquialism that cannot be translated directly all of which create a challenge when branding across borders.

Transcreation can often be accomplished by simply having a single “transcreationist” or copywriter work directly with a client’s marketing department in order to understand the goals and core messaging the client wishes to achieve. They must have a background in marketing and/or advertising and have a deep command of the nuances of each language that he/she works in. An understanding of the industry of the client is also vital as well as an ability to apply country-specific marketing tactics to their material.

If you are trying to raise the bar in connecting more effectively with your target audience in overseas markets, then transcreation may be a good option for your company.

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