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How Translation and Transcreation differ

How to decide whether you need translation or transcreation?

Put simply, translation converts text of one language, to another language. Whereas, transcreation is the process of adapting text or a message from one language and culture to another, while maintaining the impact and context of the original.

A creative translator will sometimes rework the way an idea or concept is introduced, but transcreation can result in something that is entirely different to the source. In fact, transcreators often write new copy from scratch. The aim being to ensure that your target audience, in a different region and/or culture, still engage with the message as you intended.

Transcreators are also copywriters

Although transcreation usually involves translation, in some cases, transcreators are primarily writers and/or creatives. Depending on the type of project and the source/target market, a team maybe required for complete transcreation.

Unlike translation, transcreation requires a creative brief

For translation you usually only need to provide the source text to your Language Service Provider. However, with transcreation we need to understand the creative concept behind the campaign, and the reaction and/or action you are hoping to generate. Mostly importantly, we need to know who your target audience is. Your transcreator should understand the cultural nuances in both languages, and understand the ‘spirit’ in which the original copy was created.

It’s important have a productive feedback loop between your transcreator and your marketing team. Often transcreators will provide several options and ask for feedback — with a view to brand guidelines and identity — before selecting the best wording.

Transcreation can result in new messaging

With translation the objective is to produce the same message in a different language. With transcreation, we consider whether a different message might resonate better with your new target audience and adjust the original to create a new message that triggers the same emotional response.

Transcreation is for creative, market-focussed copy

While translation is appropriate for informative copy (technical manuals, user guides, etc), transcreation is useful when your copy is designed to trigger an emotional response. As such, transcreation may also change the look and feel of project. For example, if your project features photography, it might be appropriate to changes the models used to better reflect the cultural norms and demographics of your target audience.

Product names, slogans, taglines and calls-to-action particularly benefit from transcreation.

Transcreation is already being used successfully in:

  • Video games
  • Mobile phone apps
  • Digital and print advertising
  • Marketing copy
  • Corporate presentations
  • Social media content

Find out more: Transcreation: the next level of Localisation

Find out more: Starting your Transcreation Project

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