Transcreation: the Art of Translating Creatively

To be a good translator, knowing the two languages you are working on is not enough. One important translation feature is the attempt to be as consistent as possible with the rendering of original words.

There are basically three translation methods:

  1. Literal Method: The intention is to provide the closest possible correspondence between the original language words and their equivalent in the target language.
  2. Paraphrase Method: The translator freely rewords the original language to convey in the target language what he understands to be the basic meaning of a text.
  3. Dynamic Equivalence Method: The objective is to produce the closest equivalent meaning of the original text, not necessarily a word-by-word or literal rendering.

The last method is the closest approach to the process of Transcreation. Both Translation and Transcreation are linguistic processes. It can be challenging to translate correctly and capture the same meaning of some creative content in another language.

Content Marketing

A company´s marketing content is a precious asset and a literal translation may lead to all sorts of problems. Some alternatives to a literal translation are marketing translation, transcreation, brand localization, multimedia localization, and copywriting. Transcreation is the most popular alternative in this area. It is a mix between literal translation and creative copywriting. Specialized translators can come up with the appropriate and equivalent message, including play on words and other creative concepts while maintaining the sense of the original message.

In transcreation, professional translators try to re-create a client’s original message for a new market. An investment in well-crafted content in the source language should never be put at a risk when translating it for a different market. The possible risks are that the translated content can be meaningless, unfamiliar, inapropriate, or confusing in the target language.

Some providers of transcreation give advice to customers on their creative asset so that it can resonate better in the local market. Like most marketing content, a transcreation is intended to trigger an action from the audience. Ideally, before embarking on the actual transcreation process, the concept should be tested and all possible issues pointed out. It might be that the visuals are not quite right for the target market, or it could be that the whole concept is not a good idea for some countries.

Unfortunately, many low-quality transcreation examples are slogans. It might seem easy to localize a slogan because after all, it is only a few words. However, a good slogan needs to be quickly understood by the target reader and should be memorable. Many slogans use humor to grab the audience’s attention but these tools won’t necessarily work in another language or culture.

Transcreation services can help develop a brand’s identity in new markets. The aim of our team of professional translators specialized in marketing is to help companies spread their marketing content effectively and clearly in different global markets. Let us become the artists of your global content marketing.

Source: Studies in Translation. Edited by Mohit K. Ray; Translation or Transcreation. Discourses, Text and Visuals. Edited by Cinzia Spinzi, Alessandra Rizzo and Marianna Lya Zummo.