There has been a lot of discussion as to whether ‘Transcreation’ is a necessary term or if it is another fancy way of saying ‘Translation’. But companies, agencies, and linguists now understand that marketing text is not like any text. It not only implies culture, as translation does, but also other language nuances such as humour, irony, timing, momentum and creative intent.
Transcreation means freedom, but with certain limitations. And these limitations are not the same as in Translation.
A successful tagline may work in the US, but not in China. This is kind of obvious. But that’s exactly why agencies rely on linguists with experience in target markets. As well as helping you with translation, agencies have reliable human resources to work as cultural consultants. This is really helpful when it comes to knowing if a similar campaign is currently running on tv, if there’s a recent ad on the radio with the same creative concept or if the print they’re working on has been used by competitors three months earlier. It’s not only about achieving the highest possible standards, but also about preventing a campaign from disaster.
Which elements should we take into account when adapting or creating campaigns that will later feature in other countries? These are some basic questions that will lead you to success:
1. To whom are you speaking?
This is a tricky one! While in several countries it is possible to approach the target audience in an informal tone, this could mean a total catastrophe in other countries. Something as basic as using ‘you’ can change the whole feeling of a sentence depending on the location. For example, in Spain, ‘usted’ is used by formal industries like medicine or law. However, many banks — which could be considered as part of the most formal industry —are now choosing ‘tú’, which is a more relaxed way of saying ‘you’ with the objective of appealing to a new generation and to differentiate themselves from competitors. This may seem insignificant, but a social change is implied and that is why professionals that understand the culture, the history of advertising and their own language must be involved when adapting the original copy to a new audience. Only a curious transcreator (who is experienced in marketing) could say which way the wind is blowing.
2. Are you using the right emojis?
Emojis are here to stay, but they should be treated with caution. In some languages copy can be so powerful that adding an emoji is redundant. However, when adapting a campaign to another language, that ‘powerful’ nuance could mean ‘serious’, so to relax the intention of the message, an emoji could help a lot. The same happens when an emoji is out of place and should be removed.
Emojis should be reviewed depending on the market. And, of course, linguists and copywriters should put quality before quantity, as it is a resource that should be managed in a smart way so it preserves its effect and adds to the copy.
3. Which are the forbidden words?
This is probably the most important point. There are certain words that should be avoided in some languages, while in others can mean beautiful things. Language specialists are aware of this and will keep this in mind when it comes to ‘adapting’ a campaign. But what exactly does adapting a campaign mean? We could say it is getting final copy that works as the original would, accomplishing the marketing objectives, and maintaining the spirit of the brand. Sounds complex right? It is also exciting. No need to worry, a good agency and a good linguist would recognise a ‘wrong’ word immediately in their own language.
4. Is your company ‘translatable’?
When a company is global, it understands the power of good copy. When a global company has a vision, it understands that copy is only good if it can be adapted to other countries where it has presence.
It is wise to count on a copywriting team in-house to create the content. But this only works if these copywriters are aware that they’re crafting content that will later be adapted for another market. This doesn’t mean creating plain, neutral text. It means forward planning and taking care of elements that, if not observed, could be an issue for the company in the future.
Do you think there’s something more to be considered? Share it with us!