It is a fact known to many that language is one of mankind’s greatest inventions to date. But while languages may ease communication between the countries, these same languages can be a source of linguistic barriers that separates communities and nations. That is why some people take the role of translators to lower these barriers, doling out word-for-word translations of spoken and written word for easy comprehension by people of other communities.
The only problem is that word-for-word translations are sometimes not the solution.
While your great marketing campaigns and advertising content may be something that propelled your brand to heights of fame in your country, the message you are trying to convey may get lost in the translation when you decide to introduce your brand in another country. While translation may seem like the obvious solution, when it comes to marketing and advertising for international audience, transcreation is the answer.
So how are translation and transcreation different and which one should be adopted by companies to ensure the same impact on the customers?
A look at Marketing Translation:
Marketing translation is the process of translation and localization of content from one language to another. This can include the adaptation of logos, taglines, and advertising copy, while preserving the terminology, tone, and quality of source content. Rather than translating the branding and imagery, translation takes a direct approach of adapting the message into another language.
While translation is a more cost-effective and direct route to adapting your message into another language, the cultural aspects are largely ignored when translating the message. In the process of translation, the slang, cultural references, humor, idioms, and images are also translated which may or may not hold the intended meaning for the target audience, resulting in lost sales for the company.
Generally, this translation process takes less time, is less costly, and is usually charged by the word, following a regular editing-proofreading-translating path.
But translation lacks one basic element essential for business—the transfer of the original message, together with the brand image and perceptions that is intended by the company.
That is where transcreation comes into the picture.
A look at Transcreation:
Transcreation takes a different path from translation. It involves the modification of the copy, while preserving the “spirit” of the content in all its originality. Not only the cultural and linguistic features are translated, the whole project is considered from the ground up.
The transcreation specialists in charge of this transcreation are usually expert copywriters who invest time to fully understand the original message, ensuring that the imagery, headlines, branding, and taglines are carrying the same meaning as originally intended by the companies.
This, in turn, ensures that the target audience feels the same way when they get the message, irrespective of their linguistic or cultural background. Transcreators, therefore, want to know the “real meaning” behind an advert, researching thoroughly before the launch so as to strike a chord with the target audience.
Translation and Transcreation: Where does the difference lie?
Transcreation and translation are similar in essential functions as they both deal with the conversion of message from one language to another. For both translation and transcreation, a rigorous process is followed by translators and transcreators, involving editing, proofreading, and inspection. They both aim to inspire the buyer to buy the product. Both engage bilingual specialists who understand the cultural nuances of target market and possess the creativity needed for brand interpretation.
They both make the message clear in another language—albeit in different ways.
To illustrate the difference in a simple way, consider adaptation of an English poster for a Chinese audience. Even when marketing translation translates the logo and message word-for-word and drop the translated copy into existing poster design, there is a high probability of this translation getting back-fired when the color scheme of the posters is not kept into consideration (if it contains more white, it would not be welcomed in China where the color white is associated with loss and mourning). On the other hand, transcraetion would consider changing the whole poster from the start, with the logo, tagline, and color scheme changed according to the Chinese culture—to appeal to the Chinese audience.
Marketing Translation or Transcreation: Which one to go for?
The key difference between marketing translation and transcreation lies in the complexity requirement of the message. It is important to decide which approach is more appropriate for the brand. Your translation partner or Language Service Provider (LSP) can help you decide which one to go for. Is your message a simple one or a complex one that it needs to be adapted from scratch? Would your company do better without the need of transcreating, or would a whole “re-vamp” of the message be required to strike a chord with the audience?
Translation and transcreation lie on continuum between translation of a straightforward content and a thorough content creation on the other. It is, therefore, the choice of the company to decide which approach to adopt if it wants to make a lasting impression on its target audience.