Copywriting

Transcreation: When is it Better than Translation and Why?

By 26. June 2019 July 3rd, 2019 No Comments

The internet has allowed companies to reach markets across the world, but in the process, it has thrown up new challenges for cross-border sellers. Most importantly, while the web has brought people together, it hasn’t erased language barriers.

Whatever language they speak, web users want to be able to relate to the brands they patronise. They want clearly expressed information, but also value humour and references to their native cultures.

In other words, to sell across borders, companies need ways to speak to people that go beyond simple translation. They need ways to relate to people on a human level. That’s where transcreation enters the picture.

Defining Transcreation

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, “transcreation” is exactly what it sounds like – a mixture of translation and creation.

When writers transcreate, they take an original text and tease out what it is trying to do. They think about the tone of voice, the cultural references, and the factual details it contains. Then they convert it into an accurate translation that’s tailored to a completely different cultural context.

Done well, this results in texts that replicate the key details of a product description, blog, or any other piece of content but which speak to different audiences in ways they will comprehend and enjoy.

Why Transcreation is Important in Marketing

1. Relatability

Most importantly, transcreation services provide a way to engage readers in different cultures by using language and references that make sense to them. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to talk about “end runs” or “hail Mary passes” if a company is selling to Germans, but these terms will be broadly familiar in the USA.

Transcreation involves finding terms which act as analogues for the original text — a process that we often refer to as content localisation. The core transcreation goal is to communicate the sense of what the original tried to convey using cultural tools that are appropriate for the target audience.

2. Avoidance of Misunderstandings

Transcreation also seeks to allow companies to smoothly transfer their content across borders without unfortunate slip-ups. If you’ve ever used Google Translate to convert product descriptions into another language, you’ll appreciate this problem. All too often, the results are confusing, and can even be offensive in some cases.

Literal translations are always vulnerable to this issue as words don’t necessarily swap seamlessly between cultures. By using transcreation services, companies can avoid this pitfall. Instead of strange phrasing and vocabulary, they can convert jokes and slang without any mishaps.

3. Accuracy

Verbal misunderstandings can turn off audiences, but so can factual errors. When companies enlist transcreation professionals, they can usually be sure that their content partners will double check any facts in the original text. And they won’t blindly convert numbers or technical terms.

For instance, if American apparel companies are launching sales campaigns in Europe, they will need to make sure that sizes are converted appropriately. Transcreation experts will be able to fine tune the overall content involved instead of just translating the text.

Why Transcreation is Better than Translation in Marketing

At greatcontent, we are huge supporters of transcreation over translation. While linguistic skills are admirable, they aren’t enough to allow brands to shine when they internationalise their campaigns. Instead, companies often need to think bigger and find solutions which blend translation, initiative, and creativity.

This isn’t always the case, though. For example, when selling highly technical products, much of the content creation required will entail very strict translations to communicate data effectively. And in global industries, localisation doesn’t always matter when selling worldwide. But it does matter for many customer-facing eCommerce sellers and service providers.

When applied properly, transcreation will boost sales in target markets, build the profile of your brand, and promote trust among your audience. So get in touch with us to discuss how to combine multilingual copywriting with imagination. We’ll find a way to craft marketing campaigns to capture the attention of any audience.

Text: Sam Urquhart
Image: unsplash.com

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