If you’ve been on our page, you know transcreation means creative translation. It’s about understanding the intent behind the original content and adapting it to evoke the same emotions or actions in the target market. So what content should be transcreated?
Slogans and taglines
Your brand or product deserves a strong message – the slogan should encompass everything it stands for. But as good as your slogan might be in its original language, it might not be easily transferable to another market. This could be for linguistic reasons if it includes cultural references, puns, alliterations or rhymes. It may also be because the image of the brand or the target group is different in foreign markets. Take the German brand BMW. Its original slogan Freude am Fahren (literally, the joy of driving) was translated directly for some European countries (Italy: Piacere di guidare, Portugal: Pelo prazer de conduzir), but for the US market, they came up with a completely different slogan: The Ultimate Driving Machine. With this transcreation, BMW aimed to distinguish itself from big, boxy American cars and to target young men looking for more of a premium driving experience.
Localizing your website means more than translating the copy and adding global payment methods. It’s the face of your company that carries your value proposition and messaging to an international audience. For example, French brands have adapted their communication when crossing the Atlantic. On the President® Camembert website, the creamy, bold cheese is also presented as unique – yet approachable, presumably to reassure consumers who might fear they are not sophisticated enough to enjoy it. It understood that selling its cheese to American consumers isn’t the same as selling to the French.
Newsletters, mailings and social media campaigns are written to connect with consumers – which is why they fall under the scope of transcreation. The time, energy and creativity poured into marketing and branding should be respected when entering other markets. And don’t forget that your customers will have different interests and celebrate different events throughout the year depending on the market. Fourth of July sales only make sense in the US!
Think about having your product names analyzed before you go global. You might have to come up with something new if the name already exists or if it has a totally different meaning. Great brands still make mistakes, as was the case recently for Heinz. Their new condiment combining mayo and ketchup is called Mayochup. Pretty logical and straightforward, don’t you think? Well, it is until you discover that it means s**t-face in Cree, a language spoken in the province of Ontario, Canada, where the product is also in stores.
Translating subtitles is demanding for two simple reasons: limited time to read and space. The eye is only able to read 21 characters per second, and as a rule of thumb, the average number of characters per line shouldn’t exceed 42. Knowing that, it is often necessary to reformulate what is said in a more concise way, but of course without losing any of the message. Definitely a transcreation.
Ads and commercials
As with subtitles, you also have to consider the available space on advertising billboards and the time limitation on TV spots. But more importantly, ads and commercials often contain cultural references which prevent them from being transposed from one target audience to another. A few years ago, McDonald’s France chose to distort a famous expression to advertise its new late-night hours. The French expression La nuit porte conseil (the French equivalent of sleep on it; literally, night is a good adviser) became La frite porte conseil (French fry is a good adviser). It’s a pun that would not have been possible in English.
Digital apps usually have minimalistic user interfaces and the cruel lack of space forces you to be concise. Moreover, buttons, commands and navigation need to be translated in context – the German word Anmelden can mean register, login, and subscribe. A huge difference in an app! The UI text should be as effective in the translation as the original, too. For example, CTAs such as Click here need to be translated more precisely for certain markets, e.g. 料金についてはこちら (Japanese: Go here for pricing). Also bear in mind that apps need to be found in the app stores, so keywords should be adapted to user behavior in local markets. Transcreating your app will allow you to be found by your consumers and to maximize their engagement by ensuring them a seamless experience.
Transcreation has one mission: to respect the creativity and thought that went into the original. Think about the amount of time, research and effort that lies behind every campaign, site, product. Why wouldn’t you want the same care to be taken when approaching international markets? As a general rule, all content that engages your company with customers to sell them a product or make a connection should be transcreated. Simply put, transcreation is about emotions.
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