Transcreation vs translation

In this era of globalization, despite the appearance of cultures coming closer together, translating a message from one language to another, whether it be infused with meaning and emotion, or whether it be technical, legal or commercial, is a formidable challenge faced by translators every day. Transcreation—that esoteric term that we will briefly explain here—requires even more skill and know-how.

What is transcreation?

For mere mortals, the world has no meaning. And yet, without even knowing it, we read examples of it every day.
The term comes from the combination of two words: translation and creation.  This is a creative process primarily used in the marketing and advertising industries, which aims to convey cultural and emotional content into another target culture. Transcreation sits at the crossroads of translation, localisation, and creativity.

How does transcreation differ from translation?

Transcreation is indeed distinct from translation or localisation, and can only be successfully performed by someone who is deeply knowledgeable of both cultures.

An advertising slogan cannot be translated the same way as a user manual. Translation can sometimes play nasty tricks. Take for example, the advertising campaign of a famous American airline that wanted to promote its new leather seats. “Fly in leather” became “Vuela en cuero” (literally “fly in the buff”) in Spanish-speaking countries.

Transcreation is a creative endeavor.  One must step back from the source in order to convey the emotional equivalent in the target language. To create a high quality transcreation, being a translator as well as having experience in marketing and advertising is quasi indispensible.

The best transcreation?

Finding a slogan in a target language that has the same impact as in the source culture is no easy task. An example of an excellent transcreation is no doubt the slogan of a well-known German confectionary manufacturer. ”Haribo macht Kinder Froh und Erwachsene ebenso”: this German slogan would be literally translated as “Haribo makes children happy – and adults as well”. But it was important to find a slogan that rhymed and that was more joyful and had a singable cadence. So it instead became “Kids and grown-ups love it so – the happy world of Haribo”.

To be successful abroad, proper transcreation of your advertising slogans is an essential element that companies too often underestimate the importance of. It allows you to reach your new target audience and trigger the desired effect.

Discover our translation agency