When it comes to transforming marketing materials into different languages, translation becomes a combination of art and science. As well as the images chosen, the power of words is crucial to creating high-impact, awesome advertisements. This work requires more than translation skills. It requires writing and technical expertise, local knowledge, and creativity. This is transcreation.
The term ‘transcreation’ is used in the field of translation studies to describe the process of adapting a message from one language to another, maintaining the original intent, style, tone, and context. It means going a step further than simply adapting the text. A transcreation project should be divided into a series of steps, always with the culture of the target audience in mind. It is also extremely important that the work be assigned to a native translator who also has copywriting experience and is familiar with the local slang and jargon.
The first step is to study the concept to ensure that you have a good grasp of the message you need to communicate. While it may not be necessary to transcreate materials for some markets, for others – where customs and attitudes are completely different – a complete overhaul may be required.
Before you start, write a checklist, and get an accurate brief from your client. Then you need a realistic timeframe. As the name suggests, transcreation is a creative process and you must allow enough time to think, review and revise. You should also factor in some time test out the results of your work to get other people’s opinions, although for a large-scale marketing campaign, the client may use an agency to do some local market research. In an ideal situation, this type of work is done by a team of linguists, although this approach is obviously more costly and time consuming.
Typically, they would have a meeting to analyse the original message and then work together to produce different options. A shortlist of their creations would them be submitted to the client with backtranslations and justification for each idea.
Unfortunately, in my experience, this is rarely the case. I cannot count the times I have been sent a WhatsApp message with an advertising slogan to transcreate and been expected to come up with four or five possibilities within five or ten minutes for the price of translating six words! Hopefully, with the big drive towards digital living, this skill, for which there is growing demand, will be appreciated and afforded the importance it deserves.