Transcreation is a term used mainly by advertising and marketing professionals to refer to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. Transcreation is also frequently called copywriting. A successfully transcreated message evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language.

Someone who wants to transcreate must have a sound knowledge of the source language, and be a mother-tongue speaker of the target language. They must have an in-depth understanding of the two cultures involved, and be an accomplished writer. This gives them the confidence to move away from the original text when necessary, without changing words and ideas simply for the sake of change.

The importance of transcreation vs translation

As markets continue to broaden, advertisers face special challenges. To be effective, advertising must reach hearts as well as minds. Thus, the ability to transcend language and cultural boundaries is paramount to achieving an effective global marketing strategy. Not only must copy be translated correctly, but other factors must also be considered, such as culture, mores, dialects, idiom, humor, and context. Any perceived lack of respect for heritage, local values, beliefs and cultures may have a negative impact and slight changes in local language headlines, body copy, scripts and voice-overs can make real differences in how the message is received.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Nelson Mandela

To meet these challenges, companies that market internationally are increasingly using transcreation, whether via their advertising company or with a localization company specializing in transcreation. Obviously the professionals that can transcreate have a higher profile than regular translators and the volume that can be transcreated every day can be significantly lower than translation, which means that the usual translation cost per word does not apply.

WhP’s experience in transcreation offers insurance in this service. Among our network of linguists we have experts in transcreation allowing us to provide our customers all localization services ranging from highly technical to marketing projects, while ensuring consistency.

Transcreation for Games and Training:

A slight different definition for transcreation is used in the Games or the Training industries, where examples or quizzes include a lot of cultural references.

For example, WhP is the localization partner of a leading Board games publisher similar to the famous Trivial Pursuit. It is obvious that questions related to Baseball rules or results have to be replaced by local examples when marketed in Europe.

Replacing these cultural references by relevant ones for the target market is also called transcreation.