The importance of transcreation

We have all seen many instances of literal translations of slogans into foreign languages that just don’t work. Thankfully, transcreation can take care of this issue.  Transcreation (also referred to as “creative translation”) has been a hot topic in recent years, especially in the global market sector. It has been described as both the process of adapting precise brand content from one language into another and the transformation of an overall message which addresses written content, visual design and imagery. Standard translation and localization services don’t effectively preserve the creative and emotional intent of the content that allows it to best resonate in other languages and cultures.

Although it is a term mainly used by advertising and marketing professionals to refer to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, many localization vendors are now offering it as one of their client services.  In other words, translation is to transcreation what writing is to copyediting.  Simply put, it is a way of conveying the same message put forth by the source text to target audiences in language that the target audiences readily understand.

However, transcreation can be a difficult process. Working on the client-side of localization many years ago, we marketed to a younger audience and words like “phat” were used.  I remember thinking how are we going to convey what “phat” (depending on the source, it means “excellent”, or “very cool” or to others, it is an acronym for “pretty hot and tempting”) means in Sweden.  This is part of the process of transcreation; in this case, finding the equivalent of what “phat” conveys in English in Swedish. Simply using the word “phat” (unless commonly used in English) will just not work and the proper message will not be conveyed.

The well-known slogan for McDonald’s is “I’m loving it”.  This works fine for America where we “love” our shoes, our pets, our husbands, our girlfriends, our favorite movie, etc. The same word is used for the love for all of those things. However, in Chinese, the word “love” is used only for deep, meaningful love so the slogan in Chinese translates as “I just like it”.

Another difficulty faced is that many client logos contain puns and since logos are not to be translated, these puns are not easily understood by the end users.  Clients should keep this in mind (if going global) when creating their logos.

Spiderman India is a well-known example of transcreation and the first of its kind where a Western property is rewritten and rebranded.  The name Peter Parker was changed to the more ethic-sounding Pavitr Prabhakar and instead of chasing the Green Goblin, he chases a demon known as Rahshasa.

To find out more about transcreation and whether your product requires it, please contact ABLE Innovations today to speak to one of our seasoned professionals.


Did Social Media get lost in translation?

Social media is more popular now than ever.   Whether you are a student, business owner or CEO, chances are that social media is now fully incorporated into your daily life. 18% of the world’s population is now considered social media active.  Facebook and Twitter are the top players in this market with hundreds of millions of tweets and status updates being made every day.

The content created by end users on a daily basis circulates the entire world – literally. This data is extremely valuable to multinational corporations trying to fine tune their target audiences. Have you ever noticed a Nike commercial on the right panel of your Facebook page? Chances are you were shopping for sports shoes online prior to signing onto Facebook. This type of data is being commercialized daily in the social media world market.  As a matter of fact, Facebook’s primary source of income is sales revenue from the information that WE – the end users – post every day.

Since there are no borders in the world of social media, how is the information being interpreted by the rest of the world?

Twitter had recently reported that more than 50% of daily tweets are sent by non-English speaking users. English is quickly losing its pole position to other languages such as Chinese, Arabic, Russian and French.

Accordingly to a recent Google survey, more than 90% of marketers believe that social media is the best way to reach customers – even better then TV and paper magazines. It is also proven that end users prefer to receive data in their native languages rather than a translated version. Multinational corporations and news agencies are quickly catching up by creating content in different languages. Russia Today (RT) is now tweeting in Spanish, Arabic, English and Russian. FOX news acquired European and Middle Eastern news agencies in order to reach a global audience through delivery of the news in their native languages.

Delivering data, tweets, status updates and the like globally is no easy game.  Your message can easily be lost in translation or misinterpreted. Here are a few dos and don’ts that have been established as unspoken rules:

Each country needs its own feed, and two languages should never be mixed in one account. While it might seem cost effective to combine two countries speaking the same language in one feed, different heritages and backgrounds may lead people to be confused and hurt the company image in the long run.

Facebook and Twitter may seem like the top players in the US – however there are other players to be considered when going global. Mixi is much more popular than Twitter in Japan.  Google’s Orkut is used much more heavily in Brazil than Facebook. Chinese users like to send instant messages via Renren.  And many European professionals use Xing for networking.

It is also important to note that different countries use social media in different ways. French and German Twitter users tend to share more news and links, while Koreans and Malaysians are more likely to hold conversations.

Further research by Google has exposed huge differences in how much personal info is being shared on the web. The United States seems to be on top of the list, while other countries such as Germany and China lagged far behind.

The most effective way to engage followers and friends is to keep it local.  One option is “transcreation” which goes beyond simple translation and consists of adapting the content to the target locale directly. Most multinational companies hire a social media manager to keep on top of it.

Although there is no magic bullet to solve every challenge, ABLE Innovations offers several solutions for close to instant web translation and transcreation.  We can help you solve some of these challenges through cutting edge tools that have been proven successful in the past.



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