What is Transcreation?

What is TranscreationLocalization and transcreation are two “buzz words” in the language industry, and both services serve an important role for companies who want to communicate with customers in new regions across the globe. Depending on your needs, your marketing content may benefit from one technique more than the other, so let’s take a look at the differences between these two processes.

You’re likely already familiar with localization, which is defined as adapting an existing piece of content to make it understandable in a specific language and culture. Transcreation, on the other hand, is the process by which a product or advertising message is completely adapted for the target market, while still retaining the original intent. This requires a particularly creative approach, in order to truly resonate with international consumers.

In an earlier blog post, we shared a clever example of transcreation that highlighted Swedish car manufacturer Saab’s approach to advertising its line of convertibles back in the 1990s. The ad in the U.S. posed the comparison: “Saab vs. Oxygen bars,” since these trendy bars were popular in America at the time. When Saab “transcreated” the advertisement for potential customers in their home country of Sweden, the ad instead read: “Saab vs. Claustrophobia.” Despite that claustrophobia and oxygen bars conjure different images, you can see how the message is the same in each case: Saab convertibles offer fresh air and wide, open spaces. With transcreation, the literal meaning was changed for different markets, but the same messaging goal was achieved. Transcreation is particularly useful in addressing marketing challenges like these, with cultural-specific references or wordplay that are too difficult to translate directly into different languages.

You may be thinking: “This sounds like a much more time-intensive process – why do companies invest in transcreation when they already have existing marketing content that can simply be localized?” There are a few key reasons why this strategy can sometimes make more sense.

The Advantages of Transcreation

In general, transcreation is advantageous because it represents the most accurate way of converting text into a new language, as measured by its ability to make an impact on the target audience. Think about which type of communication is more valuable to you: a message written in your native language, or a message written in a different language and then translated to your own. Transcreated content has the best chance of resonating with an audience, since it has been created in their own language.

Transcreation is also beneficial because it allows companies to secure consistent global branding, even in entirely different countries and languages. This can be extremely valuable for a company that relies heavily on its established brand for marketing efforts, which is why many organizations may decide to invest in transcreation instead of only localization.

When considering the various translation and localization options, transcreation is the most time-intensive, and as a result, likely the most expensive. Transcreation typically requires content to be completely rewritten, instead of slightly adjusted. However, with the correct approach to the process and the right team for the job, transcreation can provide you with highly targeted, effective content that will be a powerful method for securing business in international markets.


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