Translation or transcreation: Which one is better for your content?

    Global business means global communications and marketing content adapted to customers worldwide. Is translation enough or do you need to go the extra mile?

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    With your audiences getting bigger and more global, comes the difficult challenge of resonating in such different cultures. All your messages need to be adapted to the market they are aiming for, so your target can connect and engage with your brand.

    The most obvious choice to open up to new markets would be translating all your marketing content. Sounds easy? Not quite. Taking one message and simply translating it to a different language might not be enough.  Different cultures can have different perceptions on words, expressions and even images. And this is where transcreation comes into the picture.

    Transcreation takes your marketing translation to the next level, maintaining the integrity of your message and a consistent voice, while adjusting the content to the specificities of each market. Feeling confused? Let’s take a look at translation and transcreation and see what each one entails.


    Word-based vs concept-based


    Translation is the process of taking a piece of text and converting it into a different language, focusing on the words used and ensuring the translation sticks as close as possible to the original copy.

    Transcreation goes a step further, focusing on the general concept and feel of the message. It means taking a piece of text and converting it or rewriting it, keeping its essence but adapting all things that could be lost in translation, such as cultural references.


    Not all content is created equal


    If you are looking at a purely informational message, that doesn’t need cultural context and won’t be subjective to any misinterpretations, then translation is the best choice. For example, when you are adapting messages like instruction manuals. Translation should be your preferred choice for matter of fact documents, that are factual, and don’t need a cultural context adjustment.

    When you are wanting to convey a message with more feeling, like marketing and advertising geared messages, then you need to consider transcreation. It aims to replicate the emotion the message evokes in your audience, without being a simple word for word translation. It is not about grammar, it’s about adapting your message while preserving its intent. It’s a more loose and creative type of translation. The importance becomes how the user will engage with the content and having a clear call to action (CTA) so you can achieve your conversion goals for the campaign.

    When transcreating you will need to provide your transcreator a creative brief, so they can really understand the meaning behind your message, and therefore, transforming it in a way that appeals to your audience.


    Finding your brand's personality


    Transcreation is useful when you are looking at a more subjective piece of text, like a slogan or sales messaging, that won’t make much sense if you just translate it. It needs to have all of its cultural references adapted, in order to be read in the same way as the original one.  

    The persona voice used by a sales person in the USA is much more personal and conversational than speaking to a customer in Germany. Transcreation has many purposes and oftentimes it’s chosen simply to ensure the copy reads as if authored in that language. Resonance and results are key and also save your sales team re-writing content for that very reason.

    Humor, for example, is sometimes used in slogans or ads, and won’t make sense in other cultures and might even be considered offensive. And just translating it won’t do the trick. So with transcreation you can keep your pun or rhyme, while transmitting the same feeling and getting the same reaction out of people.

    This also includes adapting beyond text, which consist of adjusting images, keeping in mind things like colour meanings, cultural symbols and stories.


    What’s the best choice for your global marketing?


    It depends. If all you want is the adaptation of factual texts, like technical manuals, translation is the way to go for you and your business, so you can ensure that your audience gets a clear and simple message.

    If you are looking to really penetrate into a different market, transcreation is your best bet, because, by being more personalized, it allows you to create a bond with your customers, who can clearly tell when a translation wasn’t really thought through.

    Published on 15/08/19    Last updated on 15/08/19

    #Globalization, #Digital Marketing, #Multilingual Content, #Transcreation, #Global Marketing

    About the author

    Sharon is Director of Marketing Solutions for Global Content & Language Solutions at AMPLEXOR International based in River Falls, Wisconsin, US. She has over 18 years’ experience in the language service industry across marketing and operations roles. Her passion is in creating and implementing solutions for different international companies in various multilingual disciplines from Onsite Search, Multilingual SEO, transcreation, web marketization, crowdsourcing to independent language review services. Sharon holds a BA in languages and an MBA in International Business and Marketing.


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