Transcreation: what about the process?

In my last blog, I discussed how transcreation is the process of adapting an advertising campaign and its emotional intent into another market with a different language, culture and symbolism, but without altering the tone and the original brand approach.

In this blog, I will discuss and suggest to you a set of rules for successfully adapting and launching your international marketing campaign.

Simply put, how do you handle a transcreation project and how does it differ from a classic translation project?

Rule n°1: Get your campaign checked from the very start 

The first step is to plan for success, and that means thinking big, thinking global from the beginning!

Cultural consultancy will help to refine your strategy before even embarking on the adaptation of your creative marketing campaign to the local markets.

Include linguists in your discussions with the creative team. Get the feasibility of your campaign checked and then evaluate the suitability of key concepts for each target market. The linguists will help to iron out potential creative, cultural and linguistic challenges and to answer questions such as: is this tagline translatable? Are there any cultural issues? Are the visuals adaptable? Does the message come through clearly and correctly?

Rule n°2: Prepare a good brief and a communication strategy 

With a good brief, half the job is already achieved!

Straightforward communication and a comprehensive brief with clear instructions are key factors for transcreation to live up to your expectations. The linguistic team needs to understand you as a client, your ideas, your concept, your product and your services.

Define the brand vision and describe the core message of the campaign. Confirm the target audience and the tone of voice you are aiming at as it will have a direct influence on the language used. Provide the visuals of the media platforms the campaign will use (print, Website, TV spot, etc).

Keep in mind that the images and the text need to work together, and that visual context ensures the linguists do not work blindfolded.

Rule n°3: Select the right linguist 

Start by onboarding the specialist with the right expertise.

For a translation project, you will work with a translator. For a transcreation project, you will work with a copywriter. Both are native of the target countries, have grown up in their culture and are in-market based. But as the translator is an accurate linguist expert, the copywriter is a creative thinker, a writer. They have a marketing flair and a brand understanding, speak the industry language and are up-to-date with intercultural differences and trends in their country.

Copywriters have honed their skills to ensure that the creative content they work on provokes the desired reactions and emotional responses that you need for your branding activities.

Rule n°4: Plan enough time and the appropriate budget

Consider the transcreation process as important as the initial design.

The advertiser and the communication agency devote time, effort and sweat to the development of the creative concept. So does the copywriter.

As you progress into designing the copy for each market, do not undermine all the hard work and the process of adaptation by underestimating the cost or the turnaround time. Creativity shouldn’t be rushed. Even for a small job, a couple of days should be planned to go from briefing to queries, from copywriting to feedbacks.

Copywriters might charge by hour or per headline, and not per word: a transcreation task should not be considered as only translating a few words. We all know the common saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Your copywriter is thinking about much more that the text.

Rule n°5: Copywriting process: always have more than one option

Now, the actual creative work can start.

As, a general rule, a copywriter will suggest that for each copy, there are 2 or 3 options (deliverables).

Each option has an explanatory literal translation into the client’s language meant to describe what each alternative evokes (back-translation) as well as a cultural explanation to help the client’s choice (rationale).

Here again, communication is crucial and cycles of feedbacks between the client and the copywriter are highly recommended thorough this stage.

Rule n°6: Test the results locally 

Give the adaptation its first trial.

Once you have retained the adaptations suggested by the copywriter, share them with your own local-market experts located in the region the text is transcreated for. Get them also to review and approve the selected version in the original format for in-context review.

This last feedback round is crucial as a final assessment before launch and will guarantee both the effectiveness of the campaign and the suitability of the transcreation.

To translate…or to transcreate?

With these rules in mind, you should be ready to optimally plan your next transcreation project.

Are you still unsure if your content should rather be translated or transcreated?  As a rule of thumb, Transcreation is adviced for ad copy, brand names, slogans, headlines, tag lines or puns, idioms and humor. But if you need support or further advice, feel free to contact us, we’ll be happy to help!








Cover picture by Ramon Kagie on Unsplash.

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