What is transcreation?
Best described as siblings, transcreation transcends translation. It surpasses the changing of words by translating rhythm, style, and tone as well. Sometimes known as creative translation, language copywriting or cultural adaptation, it localizes all of the material, including visuals, to the desired market.
The goal of transcreation isn’t to directly translate a message from one language into another. Instead, it prioritizes the message’s intent. Transcreation adapts each brand, campaign and project to the country, language and cultural context.
Without transcreation, companies risk backlash against campaigns. In the early 1990’s, Pampers Diapers launched a global campaign with a stork. In many cultures, there is a myth that storks carry babies to parent’s doors. This is not a myth in Japan.
So, the Japanese audience was very confused by Pampers’ campaign. Had Pampers used transcreation, they could have adapted the campaign to better fit with the Japanese folklore of babies being delivered in giant peaches. A simple transcreation could have saved them thousands on rebranding.
When done correctly, transcreation allows companies to gain the respect of local customers on a global scale. One successful transcreation campaign is McDonalds’ adaptation of their “I’m Loving It” slogan. For each language, they translated the slogan and fit it to the accompanying jingle. Some markets didn’t need translation due to their high levels of understanding English. Others, required more complex transcreations.
For the Chinese market, the slogan was changed to “I just like it” as it is considered culturally offensive to use the word “love” in public. Transcreations like this demand skilled translators with immense cultural knowledge and incredible research skills. Coca-Cola’s 2013 and 2014 “Share a Coke” campaign is another great transcreation example. Starting by putting popular names on the cans in Australia, the campaign spread and proceeded to be altered to match each market’s cultural context. Using the birth of the royal baby in Great Britain, Coca-Cola marketed the campaign with a billboard that read, “Share a Coke with Wills and Kate.” This added a fresh, creative and localized element to the marketing campaign.
The examples above are good, but the best transcreations actually improve the original. This means adding more product information while still maintaining the style and tone. Swiffer did this when it transcreated its rhyme into Italian. The original, “When Swiffer’s the one, consider it done,” became “La polvere non dura, perché Swiffer la cattura.”
In this transcreation, the rhyme, tone and intent were all maintained. The meaning, on the other hand, was slightly improved. Directly translated to English, the Italian version means, “the dust doesn’t linger because Swiffer catches it.” This transcreation was able to give the customer more product information without ruining the flow.
Our team at Langpros includes experienced translators with great cultural knowledge and the ability to provide transcreations of any message to fit a localized market.