Transcreation 101: Making Meaning in Global Markets

If you work in international content, chances are you’ve heard of transcreation. Unless you’ve worked first-hand on a project, however, you may be less sure of exactly what it is, or what it involves.

Consider this your primer to the subject: Transcreation 101.   

Localization (And Then Some)

Transcreation is a more thoughtful approach to localization. In a nutshell, it’s about ensuring the international versions of your content feel like locally produced work and are as rich, engaging, and impactful as the English. 

Rather than simply translating the words on the screen, a transcreation copywriter will consider the purpose of the content and the strategy and nuance behind it. The work will often move away from the English version in terms of phrasing, structure, and references. But it will always be consistent in the tone, messaging, and impact it seeks to create.

A Different Kind of Copywriter

Much as you need a professional writer to craft good English copy, so too do you require a copywriter for good transcreation. 

Copywriters have a level of creative flair that is rarely found among translators, and it is this skill that ensures transcreated copy really comes alive. As they’re content professionals, they also have the grounding in the industry to know what works in their part of the world, and what does not. And they’re based in-market, which means they have their finger on the pulse of the latest cultural and linguistic trends.

Creativity Enhanced

In terms of process, transcreation is comparable to other creative work. Which means a good brief to the writer is essential. All the strategy needs to be called out, and any reference materials and guidelines shared in advance. Good transcreations rarely stick closely to the English, and the copywriter needs to be confident they’re taking it in the right direction. To do that, the more context they have, the better. 

And just as English content is rarely signed off at the first pass, so too are client amends part of the process when transcreating. Where local stakeholders want to have a voice, that should be encouraged – revisions are often the best way of nailing down the preferred tone of voice. 

Transcreation has been well established in the advertising industry for some time now. It is increasingly associated with tech and user interface (UI) content – where an immersive, engaging experience is essential. Content marketing is also a good fit, as are any communications intended to build affinity with the brand or trigger a response from the audience. 

In short, if there’s a strategic piece behind the English, that strategy needs to flow through in the localization too. And the best way of doing that is through transcreation.

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