Bring Local Flavor to Your Marketing Campaigns With Transcreation

You and your team have spent hundreds of collective hours and thousands of dollars on the launch of a great marketing campaign in English. Along the way, everyone gained a few new grey hairs. Whew! You’re done, right? Bring out the Champagne, bonus checks and hair dye. Not so fast…your boss wants to take that campaign into eight new language markets. Now you need a great global campaign.

How do you ensure that your campaign maintains the impact of the original without having to launch new creative in each market? This is where marketing “transcreation” comes into play. Transcreation is a freer form of translation, closer to copywriting. The result is a text that’s linguistically and culturally adapted for specific countries and/or regions, be it for Latin America, AfricaEurope or even local U.S. Hispanic markets.

As marketers, copywriters and brand gurus, we know that marketing campaigns may contain double entendres, slang, idioms, clichés and the like. They give a little spice to your brand and show off how clever you are. For these types of campaigns, you need transcreation to bring the content to life for new markets.

Let’s take a quick look at the five steps to transcreation. You can manage this process on your own, or hire a localization agency who will work through these steps for you.

  1. Content assessment. This ensures that all concepts and images apply to the new markets. For example, a picture of a cozy family around a fireplace is commonplace in Western cultures, but is not well known in Asian countries. Golf is a common way to convey relaxation here, but would not have the same connotation in certain parts of Europe.
  2. Choose the ideal linguist/translator/editor. These individuals must have a high comfort level with context and idioms in the source and target languages; should be native speakers of the target language; live in the country of the target language; and have extensive experience with marketing translation and transcreation.
  3. Write a Transcreation Brief. The brief complements a translation glossary and summarizes key campaign information, such as target audience, company background, and marketing objectives. It explains the thought process around the original campaign and text.
  4. Translation. Your translator creates an initial draft, in which the original meaning and nuances are transferred into the target language. The text sounds like a translation—very literal, and maybe a bit stilted.

Here is a sample of a translated marketing text from Italian to English for a trendy bracelet:

It is a matter of wrist

Winter fashion accessories are worn around the wrist (and in large quantity): called Decenarios, these ribbon bracelets provide a flash of color even under the most traditional coat.

5.  Adaptation. An editor adapts the translation to comply with campaign parameters (hence the importance of a Transcreation Brief — see #3 above). The output is copy that sounds as if it were written specifically for the target market — and it may have significant changes from the original.

Here is the sample from #4 above in its final, transcreated text from Italian to English:

It’s all on the wrist

Don’t hold back on quantity while wearing this year’s winter fashion accessories on your wrist. Decenarios ribbon bracelets provide a flash of color even under the most traditional coat.

The headline is now a play on the American phrase “it’s all in the wrist.” Since they are bracelets, they are now on the wrist, and the final headline is “It’s all on the wrist.” The transcreated English flow is more natural and adds the expression “don’t hold back” to convey the original Italian phrase of “(and in large quantity)”. If wanted, the headline could have been even more trend-oriented and played on the American phenomenon of Silly Bandz, perhaps with a headline of “Not your kid’s Silly Bandz”.

Congratulations. You have a great global marketing campaign. Now, you can get out the Champagne and spend that bonus! Oh, and if you use this transcreation process, you might not need the hair dye.

By Partner