Why Should You Use Transcreation in Multilingual Marketing

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What is transcreation? In multilingual marketing, it’s a question you need to consider carefully if you want to achieve the results you’re looking for.

Because transcreation – the creative translation of your marketing communications – is an incredibly powerful tool. It lets you form an incredibly powerful connection with new global audiences. Much better than a more straightforward translation can achieve.

But it does so through a more creative, interpretative process. This isn’t ideal for all projects. It also tends to take a little more time and resources than more “standard” translation.

So will the extra resources required by transcreation be worth it for your project? Let’s find out.

What is transcreation?

Transcreation is a portmanteau of “translation” and “creation”. It’s a specialist translation service that is designed to maximise the appeal of your content – primarily marketing and sales-focused materials, but others too – to specific global audiences.

Because to sell as effectively as you do in your domestic market, it’s not just language barriers you’ll find in your way. Differences in cultural, political, and even historical norms, desires, and expectations can all need to be bridged if your marketing is going to be effective.

Transcreation builds these bridges for you by going beyond the actual words you’ve used. Instead, it considers your message and the impact you want to make on your audience.

This makes the transcreation process vital for most marketing and advertising. That’s because this kind of content often includes plays on words, idioms, humour, and other elements that won’t have the same impact – or sometimes even make sense – when translated even close to literally.

The difference between transcreation and translation

Transcreation might sound like the translation process writ large. But there are several key features that separate transcreation from translation, even if your translation process includes a great deal of localisation:

1) Transcreation references your original much less

A translator working to localise your marketing content will be constantly referencing your original materials.

A transcreator, on the other hand, is much more likely to start with a creative brief on the project. They need to know what you’re trying to achieve with your project and the concepts that are involved.

That’s because during transcreation a linguist won’t be focusing on the precise words you’ve used in your latest campaign. They’ll be looking at your intent and the emotions you’re trying to conjure.

2) Transcreators need creative skills

All of the above means transcreation is much more of a creative re-imagining of your original campaign than it is translation. Like other creative projects, it requires skills and experience in things like advertising and copywriting on the part of your translation team.

A transcreator will also need extensive experience and knowledge of your target culture. This is so they can create materials that take into account and appeal to local predilections and preferences.

You might say that a highly skilled translator localising your content might be doing some of the same work. But a translator will still be using your original content as a baseline. A transcreator won’t have their hands “tied” to this, however gently.

3) Transcreation can reimagine your message too

Having a full understanding of your original messaging doesn’t mean that your transcreator will automatically be aiming to recreate it for your new audience.

It’s the impact you’re trying to achieve that they’re focusing on. To achieve this, they may need to reimagine your messaging as well as the words they’re going to use.

This is down to the fact that what makes your message so well-judged and appealing to your domestic audience may not strike your new target audience in exactly the same way.

Creating the same effect and impact may require some judicious tailoring or re-imagining of your message based on your transcreator’s local cultural knowledge.

4) Transcreators are a cultural knowledge resource

Tailoring your marketing to the preferences of a new target audience is impossible without extensive local cultural understanding. A transcreator is the ideal person to provide this kind of advice and recommendations.

Of course, adapting your content to the cultural norms and expectations of a different region is a key part of the localisation process too. Yet, again, a transcreator has much more creative freedom when it comes to adapting your entire messaging – and offering advice on how you might wish to do so – than a translator.

This means your brand voice in another language might be very different to what it is in your native tongue.

5) Transcreation isn’t suitable for all copy

For all its many advantages, transcreation is only suited to certain types of text.

If your copy is factual, for example, you may want it to be lightly adapted for clarity for someone who speaks a different language and was raised in a different culture. But you probably don’t want this information to be heavily interpreted or re-imagined for your new audience.

The transcreation approach will be well worth considering for any copy where you want to create an emotive response in your audience though. This will include things like slogans, branding, taglines, product names, film titles, and advertising and marketing copy in general.

But even here, it may not be suitable or necessary for all of this kind of content. One common and highly effective approach is to build in the transcreation of certain key elements of your marketing and localise the rest.

Why is transcreation important in marketing?

There are a few key reasons why you will want to use transcreation in your multilingual marketing:

1) Create content that resonates

If you want your advertising to really connect with an audience from a different culture, transcreation is often vital.

You wouldn’t create a marketing campaign for your domestic market without focusing on your audience’s pain points. Only by recreating your campaign with the focus entirely on your new market will you achieve the same level of results.

2) Maximise trust in your brand

Any experienced marketer will tell you how important it is to build trust with your target audience. But even if you have that experience, doing so across a language barrier is incredibly difficult.

Low-quality translations can have a serious impact on your brand’s reputation in foreign markets. Even some of the biggest brands in the world have made huge missteps when reaching out beyond their domestic markets, often to the tune of millions of pounds of losses and a huge reputational hit in the target market.

Just think of KFC’s hilarious but also nearly disastrous “Eat your fingers off” (“Finger-lickin’ good”) slogan translation or Dolce and Gabbana’s unintentionally racist overtures towards the Chinese market.

At its base, transcreation protects you from this kind of costly error. At its height, it gives your brand real authority and lets you build trust with your new market. Exactly what you need in order to sell there.

3) Reduce bounce rates

One of the biggest issues encountered by brands when they begin to translate and localise their content for new audiences is that they experience high bounce rates with their localised website.

This is because their content appears superficially correct to their new target audience. et as soon as that audience interacts with it, they can see that it:

  • Clearly isn’t designed for them or people like them
  • Has a message that makes no sense or doesn’t resonate
  • Features poor translations or mistranslations

This can be a vicious cycle. Because search engines view high bounce rates as a signal that your content isn’t relevant to people who find it. Your search engine results positioning can then soon start to suffer and you can struggle to get found at all.

If you don’t want to get stuck in this loop, proper website localisation and often transcreating key elements of it is critical. In turn, this leads to repeat visitors who stay on your site for longer.

4) Demonstrate commitment to your target audience

People in many parts of the world are sadly used to foreign brands reaching out to them on a shallow, basic level. These brands pay lip service to these audiences, who rarely reward them with anything other than a default or grudging use of their services when required.

On the flip side, audiences around the world – and not just those that are familiar with this quality of content from foreign brands – respond very positively to brands that actually try to reach out and understand them.

Content that you have put the time and effort into transcreating for your local audience conveys your commitment to them louder than any corporate mission statement ever could.

5) Encourage social sharing

In a world of viral ads, creating content that encourages social sharing is a target of many advertising campaigns.

To encourage this even on a small scale requires creating content that matches the preferences, desires, humour, cultural reference points and more of your local target audience. That’s not something that translation alone can usually achieve.

Social sharing is also vital for SEO purposes, leading to more likes, shares, and other interactions with your content that drive good positioning on Search Engine Results Pages.

Real-life transcreation examples

Understanding how transcreation works in theory is one thing. But seeing some transcreation examples in action will be much more illustrative of what the process can achieve:

Example 1 – Haribo

“Kids and grown-ups love it so” is a jingle that’s known around the world. Just not in those exact words.

The work that went into transcreating confectionery brand Haribo’s stuck-in-your-head jingle is a fantastic example of transcreation in action. Even if you don’t understand them, try sounding out the words to the transcreated versions in the following languages to that famous tine:

  • German: Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso (“Haribo makes children happy, and grown-ups too”)
  • Spanish: Vive un sabor mágico, ven al mundo Haribo (“Experience a magical taste, come to the world of Haribo”)
  • Italian: Haribo è la bontà, che si gusta ad ogni età (“Haribo is the great thing that you can eat at any age”)

Here you can see how the new words aren’t limited by the original yet they stay true to the general gist of the message while also still matching the catchy (if potentially eventually irritating!) tune.

Example 2 – Coca Cola

Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign made a big global impact. That was the one where they added popular names to the labels of their bottles to encourage their audience to form a connection with them.

For such a simple concept, it had a hugely positive reaction. The brand soon had vast quantities of community-generated content and links to the campaign flooding in from people around the world.

The brand also cleverly transcreated it for new regions. You might imagine they could do this with a quick Wikipedia search of popular given names in a locale. But the brand went much further:

  • China – in China, it’s much more common to address someone by their surname. That’s not quite the personal feeling the brand wanted to generate. They created Chinese “Share a Coke” labels featuring popular nicknames instead.
  • India – to create a more powerful connection with consumers in India, Coca Cola broadened their initial “Share a Coke” concept to focus more on all kinds of relationships. Instead of given names, labels here featured comments on relationships like “Grandma – Scolds Me, Spoils Me” and “Son – My Devil, My Angel”) to widespread success.

Example 3 – Nike

Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan is famous around the world. So much so that when the brand came to adapt their marketing for their huge Chinese market, they found the slogan had already reached the People’s Republic.

Their already existing Chinese audience strongly associated these three words with Nike. The only problem was that most of them didn’t understand what the words actually meant.

Rather than wasting that connection or transcreating a new “Chinese” version of their slogan, Nike’s marketing efforts since have all been focussed on illustrating the message behind “Just Do It” and creating an emotive impact based on the intended meaning.

Why you should use transcreation in multilingual marketing

Professional transcreation can improve the time visitors spend on your site, reducing bounce rates, and encouraging social sharing. Yet this is all based on using specially skilled creative linguists who have been given a creative brief and the freedom to re-imagine your marketing content that goes beyond even the most flexible translation or localisation process.

For your multilingual marketing projects, transcreation is a vital process to understand if you want to create engaging content that improves trust in your brand, demonstrates your commitment to your target region, and really connects with your target audience.

Is your latest multilingual marketing project an ideal target for transcreation?

Let’s talk about it. Kwintessential localises and transcreates multilingual marketing for brands including Facebook, Lidl, American Express, the BBC, and many others.

Get a free, no-obligation quote or find out more about using our transcreation and translation services today.

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