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Revisiting Transcreation

jr language transcreation

Last updated on June 13th, 2023 at 07:01 pm

A year ago, our fantastic in-house translator, Yuisa Gonzalez, gave an excellent introduction to Transcreation– a little-known but important process that is commonly used in marketing translations

Since then, we have found ourselves happily explaining to curious clients about the specifics of transcreation. We love hearing from our clients, especially when it involves their desire to learn more about the translation process! So, in this blog, we will go into further detail about transcreation and its growing importance. 

Demand to ZOOM for Transcreation Services

Industry professionals have forecasted transcreation to be the language service that provides the greatest future growth potential. That’s a pretty significant prediction!  How can we begin to explain it?

Let’s start with globalization and rapid advances in information technology- it is because of these two factors that demand for language services by international businesses has been rising steadily each year. This demand reflects the growing linguistic awareness that global businesses have developed in relation to their global clients. Established multinational giants such as Apple and Nike continue to invest more in translation and localization services.

And yet, global companies like Apple and Nike would not have earned them millions of loyal customer relationships worldwide, had their brand and products not been marketed appropriately to each target culture. 

The message should be clear: To earn your global clients’ loyalty and their business, you must fully adapt your brand’s message, products, and website to fit the culture of your clients! This is where transcreation comes in. 

Adaptation, An Inseparable Part of Transcreation

To help you fully understand transcreation, let’s revisit its definition: “The adaptation of a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context”. 

“Adaptation” is a keyword! Producing an effective translation of a message already goes far beyond finding words in a language that matches the meaning of of a phrase or term in another. This process alone fails to consider the appropriate cultural context that which the message should be transmitting. 

Adaptation in the transcreation process takes translation a big step further by considering the original message’s intent, context, style, and tone- thus making it intelligible and appropriate to another culture. That is the reason why transcreation is known as creative translation since creativity is an important element in the “adaptation process”. 

You’ve Got to Keep Culture In Mind!

It is clear that transcreation requires an intimate understanding of the target culture- which encompasses its language, acceptable behavior, and social norms. Each culture and subcultures within has its own unique elements to consider in the transcreation process. Remember, words only have meanings in terms of the culture in which they are used! 

Let’s see a few examples of how some of our most beloved brands handled the transcreation process:

  1. The “Got Milk” campaign avoided a literal (and thus, offensive) translation of their campaign message when targeting Latinos and Hispanics. Instead, the campaign was transcreated into “Familia, Amor y Leche” to reflect Hispanic attitudes regarding generational ties. When translated back into English, the campaign message is “Family, Love, and Milk”.  
  2. McDonald’s most famous tagline, “I’m Lovin It” was transcreated into “I just like (it)” to target the Chinese market, because the word “love” is not used lightly in the culture. It is taken very seriously, as I can attest -I reserve the word “love” solely for my family members and close friends. Casual use of the word is not appropriate.
  3. Intel’s campaign message, “Sponsors of Tomorrow” was translated into “Apaixonados pelo futuro” to target Brazil. A direct translation of the original message into Portuguese would have implied that Intel is a brand that does not yet deliver on its promises. To avoid this, Intel was able to transcreate its campaign message to reflect Brazil’s passion and growing technological savviness. The translation of the Brazilian campaign into English is “In love with the future”.

These may feel like incredibly simple examples- but make no mistake, a blunder in just one single word of your marketing campaign will offend your target audience and cost you in sales and positive client relationships. 

Research and planning are your most powerful tools! You absolutely cannot rush the transcreation process.  As you can see in the examples above, time was well spent by each company in researching the finer details of each target culture’s nuances and social norms. Their hard work rewarded them- and continues to reward them with a growing number of satisfied, loyal customers globally.

Get Started on Connecting With Your Global Audience!

We hope this has given you more insight into the process of transcreation. It bears repeating that proper transcreation requires thorough research into what is culturally acceptable to your target audience, all while keeping your brand message intact. No easy task- but most rewarding for your company’s reputation and relationships with your clients.   If you’d like to learn more about our transcreation work and/or are interested in reaching out to global clients in your marketing campaigns, contact us today! 

Flora Yu
Flora Yu
Flora was born and raised in New York to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She has a degree in Accounting. She is fluent in Mandarin, and contributes a unique perspective as someone who was raised in 2 different cultures. She finds humor and opportunities to learn as she constantly searches for the balance between the East and West.