What Is Transcreation? (And Why Is It Such a Great Thing?)

I’ll bet you’ve been meaning to ask.

What is transcreation? And why is it such a great thing?

A cool moniker, but also confusing, the word “transcreation” is a blend of two earlier concepts: “translation” (from linguistics) and “creation” (from advertising). It describes the process of translating advertising or marketing content in a different language AND adapting it to the target culture, while staying true to the original intent, tone, style, and context.

To transcreate is to subject the original copy to a fast-forward process cultural adaptation. It is to recreate the copy for use in a different language and culture, with – hopefully – the same positive results (same emotions, same implications). Your transcreator carefully rewrites your copy in another language to make it sound as natural, fluent, smart, and effective as if it had been originally drafted in that language.

As its name suggests, there is a lot of creativity involved. Adept transcreation requires not only in-depth background knowledge of the target culture (its schemas, scripts and typical narratives, preferred communication style, taboos, and en-vogue terminology), but a heightened language flair and the ability to work creatively with that information.

Advertising content is complex. Like literature, it uses language conspicuously, often in a consciously unfamiliar way, to draw attention to itself.  Like business, it is concerned with action and results. It must sell. It must move people to make a connection or a purchase. So do we translate literally or sense for sense? Do we focus on word meaning or on sentence meaning?

Advertising copy often uses puns, wordplay, tropes, figures of speech. It has a particular prosody for additional effect. An effective translation requires excellent linguistic skills, a well-rounded education, cultural acumen. But more than that, it also requires actual marketing know-how and finely honed copywriting skills.

Every word counts. Each word can make a difference. Synonyms are never identical. Each of them has a different connotation, register, slightly different meaning or degree of encoding. They conjure up different images. Each of them has a different rhythm or number of syllables. And then there’s neuromarketing – those insights that tell us how to write effective copy that exerts fascination and triggers the desired reaction in our target group.

If you want to grab the public’s attention, then you have to do it right. (You want to be  smart without being abstruse, clear without being stale, and successful, not laughable.)

Creating harmony AND selling the product at the same time is a tough endeavour. Most companies have well-established brand identities that need to be taken into account. They need to benchmark against the competition or tread carefully. There are copyright laws protecting the trademarks and slogans of other players, which you should not infringe upon.

Your Romanian transcreator does a lot of research on behalf of your product or slogan. I have the hands-on marketing experience and the theoretical framework to back up my writing and linguistic skills. I look at your target audience, segment and demographics. I look at the channels (digital? analog?) and medium of communication. What is the text for? What is its declared goal or purpose? Where will it appear? What is the average attention span of online readers? How can I make it more attractive and authentic?

This takes time and effort. But it’s worth it. For you. I take your communication needs seriously and I enjoy the challenge. So give me a call, write me an e-mail or contact me here now, and let’s get to work on your next project!



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