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Marketing Translation vs Transcreation: What You Need To Know

marketing translation

We’re living in the era where the global market doesn’t only belong to large multinational brands anymore.

As businesses set the objective to reach more customers across borders, we witness the rise in demands for marketing translation and transcreation.

Especially from B2B communities, life sciences, tourism, and hospitality.

But what are marketing translation and transcreation?

How are they different or similar?

We’re sharing some insights about both so you can pick the right service for your project.

What is marketing translation?

Marketing translation work starts with a source text in a source language.

It’s a pretty straightforward process, where professional translators re-write the marketing campaign text in a target language.

Part of the translator’s job is to make sure the translated words don’t read awkward or weird in the target language. But usually, translation doesn’t change much of the original text.

The type of marketing contents that can use translation includes social media posts, product descriptions (and video description transcripts), and catalogs.

The skills required are language skills. Thus it’s a job that will suit linguists.

Marketing translators are usually billed per word or page.

How is transcreation different?

The keyword here is “to re-create” which means to give new life or freshness.

Marketing transcreation doesn’t only change words from a marketing campaign to another language; its scope extends to more than that.

1. Transcreation begins with a concept

While marketing translation starts with a text, transcreation starts with ideas.

What is the intention of this marketing campaign?

What emotion is it looking to evoke in the target audience?

The transcreation team will then look for an efficient manner to pass the message of the brand to the target culture.

Note here that we use the word “culture” and simply not “language”.

Because to successfully communicate the same message to two different audiences, you have to take into account the cultural differences.

2. Transcreation doesn’t mean starting from scratch

Even though you’ll need to start by briefing the transcreation team, they won’t start your marketing campaign from scratch.

Some elements will be kept through the process, for example, the main ideas and the image of the brand.

You will see changes, but the intention of the campaign will still be the same. The difference lies in the ways to achieve that goal in a different cultural and language setting.

3. Transcreators are highly capable copywriters

They’re not translators; they are professional copywriters whose expertise is evoking emotions in customers to boost the conversion rate.

Of course, these writers need to speak both the source and target language at a native level. Not only that, they need to understand the cultures of the target audiences in both places.

Linguists who have content marketing experience can also join a transcreation team.

Also, transcreation services are usually billed by the hour, just like for other creative services.

4. Transcreation takes care of images, too

Images are something that marketing translators don’t touch.

But since they’re an important aspect of a successful marketing campaign, the transcreation team reviews them and applies changes if necessary.

Transcreators will decide if a particular image is appropriate and efficient in conveying the message of the brand. As an example, the same campaign featuring lingerie products in the UK and Turkey may use a different photo to fit each of the audiences better.

5. Transcreation makes sure the campaign is well-accepted

One of the main objectives of transcreation is for a marketing campaign to look good and speak well to the target audience.

To maximize the conversion rate, the campaign must not only be understood but also accepted. In short: people must be able to relate to it.

This covers every aspect of the campaign: the words, the structure, the images. The transcreation team may even choose to include or not the logos of your partners based on how popular they are in the target country.

As you can see, unlike marketing translation, transcreation is complex in terms of creativity and cultural knowledge.

6. Transcreation takes care of highly branded contents

As we’ve seen above, marketing translation is generally used for descriptions and sometimes social media posts.

For branded content that wants to spark an audience’s emotional reaction, transcreation is more suitable.

These contents include advertisements, slogans or taglines, and product names.

The Similarity?

We have seen that the differences are vast, but is there a similar point?

The intention of both is the same: to increase conversion or to sell as much as possible. Actually, this is the ultimate goal of all marketing content.

But when intending to have a campaign that transcends the boundaries of language and cultural differences, things get more challenging.

Hence, the need for a marketing translation or transcreation service.

So which should I choose?

Everything relies heavily on your project: the type of campaign, the goal, and not to forget; your budget.

Transcreation is more costly and takes more time. But it can be more beneficial and may bring bigger ROI since people can relate to it better.

You want the message of your brand to come across well and marketing translation may or may not be enough. Many things that are acceptable and satiric in English are considered rude and offensive in Chinese.

So put all these factors into careful consideration. If you don’t know where to start, it’s best to discuss with an expert in translation and localization.

Take Away Lesson

It’s the perfect time to bring your company to a global level.

The other good news is you don’t have to create campaigns from scratch when trying to find success across borders.

Depending on several criteria, you can either translate or transcreate them to hit your localization goals better.

Have you tried a localization marketing strategy for your business before?

Did it work?

If not, why?

We’d love to hear your experience in the matter; leave a comment below.

If you have any questions or need help with your marketing project, our team of translation and localization experts will be happy to talk with you!

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela. Jackie has a BS in computer engineering; As president of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs.