What is Transcreation? (and Examples)

by   Han Mai, Demand Generation Lead  · September 22, 2022 · Thought Leadership

In today’s highly digital world, customers have unlimited access to brands, products, and services worldwide. The global marketplace is now in the hands of consumers. In order to reach them, companies are prioritizing localized experiences more than ever before. In fact, nearly 90% of companies believe global experiences are a priority for them within their target markets.

While translation is a great starting point to take your content and experiences from one language to another, sometimes a direct translation just isn’t locally relevant nor compelling enough. Sharing words is easy. The bigger challenge is sharing authenticity — and that’s where transcreation steps in.

But what is transcreation, and how is it different from translation? In simple terms, Transcreation = Translation + Creation.

Transcreation is the process in which content is adapted from one language to another in a creative and natural way. Transcreation is especially important in marketing and advertising to audiences with different languages, histories, and cultural backgrounds.

In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of content types to consider for transcreation in your global go-to-market strategies.

Below are 4 types of content that all leading brands are striving to transcreate.

1. Internal Local Brand and Style Guidelines

In an ideal world, all global marketing teams would be transcreating every campaign and program. However, the reality is that transcreation is challenging and difficult. It requires significant time and effort from multiple collaborators to build out personalized and market-specific creative briefs.

Still, there are proactive steps that you can take to standardize your go-to-market transcreation processes and save you time and headaches the next time you launch in a new global market. One of the best ways to set up your content and programs for success is to transcreate your building blocks. Work with highly-experienced, native-language creators to help your marketing team document brand and style guidelines for each new market and audience. Transcreate tools and content resources, such as design guides, internal wikis, and glossaries, to provide your linguists and strategists with a general baseline understanding of your brand’s intended voice and tone. From there, your linguists and marketing team can refer to your resources for their next transcreation project without having to start from scratch. This style guide should also be shared cross-functionally with sales, product, engineers, etc. to ensure alignment across all touchpoints with your brand.

2. Slogans and Tagline Copy

Locally adapted taglines and ad copy can help you achieve the advertising ROI and impact you’re looking for. Across copy for display ads, slogans, product taglines, and more, transcreation is especially important when trying to evoke a feeling or emotion while maintaining locally relevant. As a general rule of thumb, no two markets should have the same transcreated ad copy. Since each market has its own unique customer expectations of how brands should interact and engage with them, even the slightest alteration in word, color, or design choice can make the biggest difference.

McDonald’s decision to change its slogan to different audiences and languages is a great example of successful transcreation at work. Instead of directly translating its English slogan “I’m lovin’ it,” they transcreated the Spanish slogan to “Me encanta” or “I really like it.” Since the word “love” is considered to be a very strong word by Spanish speakers, it would have been culturally inappropriate to use it in its tagline. A good transcreated slogan will take the knowledge of the target market into account.

Credit: Source

3. Advertisements and Commercials

Oftentimes, the best idea for your next lightning campaign will come from collaborative conversations with local linguists and experts that are knowledgeable about the market’s culture, history, and societal norms. The most impactful advertisements and commercials understand how to communicate with their customers’ specific wants and needs.

At the end of the day, the most important objective in any paid media or campaign is maximizing ROI — and transcreation is the secret weapon.

Transcreation requires you to constantly refine your brand, messaging, and terms based on your ideal audience. This means that in order to make a long-lasting impression on your global customers, your marketing team needs to understand how local consumers will react and receive your advertisements’ key elements such as copy, storylines, media formats, and design. To do so, one of the best practices for transcreating commercials is prioritizing iterative feedback cycles and collaborative improvements to deliver perfectly customized content to your audience. For example, Redbull completely changed its look and feel to advertise to consumers in China. After understanding the significance of color and its meanings in the Chinese culture and market, Redbull’s branding team transcreated its iconic blue and silver product to red and gold for their ads and products. The result? Red Bull was the #1 energy drink brand in China, accounting for more than half of all energy drink sales.

Credit: Source

4. Long-form Storytelling Content

Across eBooks, blog posts, videos, and more, long-form content enables your customers to learn and engage with your brand in a meaningful way before making a purchase. And unsurprisingly, the key to engaging customers is creating content that global customers care about.

That said, don’t shy away from reshaping or even completely rewriting your message and content to adapt the story for your audiences. Your story should be locally curated and relevant enough that it doesn’t ostracize who you’re trying to reach.

And since one of the most beneficial purposes of storytelling is to tie a feeling or emotion to your brand, it’s extremely important that your content ties the right ones. To some audiences, a message in a video may be funny and lighthearted, while to another, it may come off as offensive and fall completely flat. For example, if a health tech company is trying to launch a blog series on easy, healthy recipes to make at home, its content will have to incorporate the market’s food preferences, popular ingredients, and dietary restrictions. The company’s marketing team would also have to take cultural and religious considerations into account. Otherwise, their team is wasting time on translating a blog series that their target audience wouldn’t eat or be interested in.

Nataly Kelly, HubSpot’s VP of Localization, shares, “The idea with transcreation is that you’re not exclusively translating, and you’re not only adapting either. You’re doing more than that. In many cases, you’re rewriting from scratch to get the same concept or message across.”

As best practice, seek bilingual, native-language authors to help write engaging content that can help you tell your story in the best, most relevant way. Lastly, work with market specialists to help research keywords to improve SEO rankings and content visibility to global customers.

As you can probably tell by now, transcreation is difficult. It’s not easy to adapt your message for a global audience — it takes meaningful research and extensive amounts of time and resources. So, we’re here to help. By working with global experience programs such Lilt’s Transcreation Services, you can easily achieve your global goals within the systems your teams are already using.

Using Lilt’s Connectors and integrations, send your content to Lilt for translation with the click of a button, wherever it lives.