If you’re looking to expand your business to an international market, you probably know that you’ll need translations at some point. But did you know that not all translations are created equal? Transcreation is a special type of translation that is used — in particular — for marketing campaigns, websites, email campaigns and more.
Transcreation helps you offer your customers a consistent brand experience no matter which language they prefer. If you book a translation service when what you really need is transcreation, you run the risk of making a cringe-worthy first impression.
But not to worry — we’re not going to let that happen if we can help it! Ready to learn more? This article will take a closer look at transcreation and translation, and explore when your company should use each type of service to get the best possible results in your global marketing campaigns.
What is transcreation?
To create effective multilingual marketing campaigns, your company needs to share your marketing message with a new audience … so that it has the same effect on them that it had on the original audience. You want a consistent brand voice and experience across all your target markets. And that’s where transcreation comes in.
You can think of transcreation as the lovechild of translating and copywriting. It’s a specialized type of translation that involves adapting marketing messages so that they actually work in different cultures and languages.
Transcreation isn’t just about translating words from one language to another, but about recreating the emotional impact and cultural relevance of the original message in a new language. It takes far more creativity and cultural sensitivity than a standard translation, and it’s the right choice for advertising, websites, and any customer-facing communications that need to make a good impression.
Transcreation vs. translation: what’s the difference?
Translation involves faithfully converting written text from one language to another. A good translation should always be clear and easy to read, but more emphasis is placed on transferring the precise meaning of the original text into the new language. Translation is used in many different fields such as technical and legal, medical, scientific research or academic texts. In the corporate world, translation might also be used for marketing briefs, white papers, or internal corporate communications.
Transcreation, on the other hand, is more focused on adapting the message to make it resonate with the new target audience. It requires a deep understanding of cultural nuances, idioms, and colloquialism, as well as the ability to write creatively in the target language.
Just like the copywriters in your marketing department, a transcreation specialist will need a creative brief describing your target audience, demographics, desired brand voice, essential marketing messages, etc.
Transcreators use that information to take the message and brand voice from your original marketing materials and adapt it for the new audience. To do that well, they might need to veer away from the original phrasing. Particularly product names, headlines, and CTAs will need to be brainstormed and rewritten so they can do their (very important) jobs well.
Depending on the project, a transcreation specialist may also do independent research and offer advice on the best approach to marketing to your new audience. What works in one country doesn’t always work in another. German and American markets are a classic example of this — American advertising appeals to emotion more than anything else, while a German audience will react better to numbers and statistics.
German to English transcreation: what you need to know
If your business is based in Germany and wants to reach an English-speaking audience, there are a few key points to look out for. You can’t have German marketing materials be “just translated” into English and expect them to work.
German marketing — even if it sounds clever and funny in German — tends to sound stiff and formal when it is translated into English. But English-language marketing (especially for an American audience) demands a friendly, casual tone. Formality and stiffness are totally off-putting to most American target groups.
If you want your marketing to actually work in the new target market, you need to make sure that your translator is up to the task of transcreating — that is, creatively adapting — your text.
When to choose transcreation vs. translation
So now that you know the differences, when should you choose one service over the other? There are different usage cases for each.
Choose translation for:
- White papers or blog articles where the primary goal is to share information
- In-house communications
- Product manuals, how-to guides, possibly your FAQ (unless they’re filled with humor or wordplay!)
Choose transcreation for:
- Product titles
- Calls to Action (there’s a science to these, and it differs from language to language)
- Any customer-facing communications that feature humor, wordplays or a strong brand voice / personality
- Customer service scripts and emails
So, to wrap things up, remember that transcreation and translation are both important tools for communicating with international audiences — be it your customers or your company’s international employees. Translation faithfully transfers written information from one language to another — it’s best for informative texts. Transcreation creatively adapts marketing messages for different cultures — it helps to create a consistent global brand experience for your customers. When you choose the right service for the right kind of project, you’ll make sure that your marketing campaign resonates with your audience, no matter where they are.
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Do you need copy for your website? Content marketing that converts? A translation or transcreation of your German marketing materials? Let’s make it happen!