Transcreation: the key to adapting your texts to several languages


Translating a website, product names, documents, and all the other content a brand generates is a key component of any company's internationalisation strategy. But one translation industry concept in particular has been gaining momentum recently: transcreation, also known as creative translation. We'll explain what it is - and how it differs from conventional translation - in this post, along with its applications and why it's key to adapting your content to several languages.


What is transcreation?

If we analyse the word itself, we can see the prefix trans means “beyond ”, “through” or “change”. Applied to translation, we could go on to say it does more than just literally translate words into the target language. Transcreation translates concepts, ideas, feelings, and reactions, and essentially adds a creative process to translation and brings the translation closer to the target audience, culturally speaking.


Translation vs. Transcreation

When a company decides to internationalise, it should always take into account each territory's own characteristics: its culture, life philosophy, sense of humour, and idiosyncrasies. And whereas a conventional translation must respect the original text and not add or remove any information, transcreation gives a lot of more freedom to move away from the source text - aiming to ultimately provoke the same reaction by adapting to these cultural norms.

Another factor differentiating creative translation from straight translation is the commercial factor. After all, transcreation is looking to go a step beyond the linguistic adaptation of a text and make sure the message has the same impact and provokes the same feelings as the original, regardless of where in the world the message is received.

Lastly, it's important to remember that not all translators can do transcreation. This is because as well as having all the professional qualities needed for translation, these translators also need to have a well-developed creative side, and know the company or product being sold inside out, as well as the audience they're trying to attract. Ultimately, they need to take important creative decisions which can sometimes even be risky.


Most common applications

One of the fields that makes frequent use of transcreation is advertising. Concepts that work well in one country could cause serious upset in another, often with harmful consequences to the company. Many advertising campaigns have caused serious damage to brands which have neglected to adapt their content to the new target country. Such was the case for Dolce & Gabbana, as we mentioned previously, which found itself being boycotted in China after announcing its fashion show in Shanghai with a controversial video.

Transcreation also comes into making important marketing decisions such as product naming. The Japanese car brand Mitsubishi had to change the name of its Pajero model for the Spanish-speaking market as the word in Spanish has a meaning with sexual connotations.

And outside of the more commercial applications, we can see other examples of how transcreation applies to even the most everyday things such as poetry, video games, the audiovisual sector, and all international film productions and series.


Why trust transcreation?

In spite of being a little-known concept, we're surrounded by thousands of examples in which transcreation has played a part. In a market as globalised as ours today, it makes more sense than ever to trust in creative translation when it comes to adapting your content to new markets. Opting for this type of translation can make you stand out from the competition, and bring your brand closer to consumers in any country.

Which is why we recommend working with professional translation companies such as AT Language Solutions, with more than 20 years' experience helping companies internationalise their products and services. If you need translation or transcreation services why not get in touch with us via our website?

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