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What is Transcreation & How Much Gets Done?

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

You'll always hear about translation and transcription, but have you ever heard of transcreation?

Graphic design of a gadget and someone saying hello in English and another person hearing the Chinese translation of Hello.

A fusion between the two words of 'translation' and 'creation', in a gist, transcreation is creative translation. It is the intersection between language, culture, and emotion, wherein content isn't translated word for word, but rather, it is adapted from one language to another all while ensuring the original intent, tone, style, and context of the message is preserved. Transcreation focuses on translating content in such a manner that it is both coherent and relevant in the selected language for the target market.

Transcreation is key for optimum brand presentation in a foreign language, and therefore, requires more than just linguistic expertise—there is a need for a certain level of creativity and cultural understanding of the target market as well. With all of that in place, only then can you see to it that your copy is able to resonate and be understood by your target market.

For many brands and businesses, they would often seek transcreation for materials such as the company tagline, headlines, or slogans—it is creative messages that are most important to be adapted to the global audiences. It is in advertising that transcreation is employed the most, but the degree to which the content is transcreated is entirely up to the client.

To give you an example as to why transcreation is important, let's take for instance KFC's world renowned slogan, "Finger lickin' good". If it were to be directly translated to Mandarin, it would be "Eat your fingers off" which doesn't exactly have the best ring to it!

Visual of the KFC ad with its tagline "It's finger lickin' good".

Commonly, transcreations do not start with a source text, but rather, a creative brief that includes ideas, concepts, and actions that should be prompted by the copy. The process of transcreation is as follows:

  1. Translation.

  2. Proofreading.

  3. Monolingual copy-editing.

Ultimately, transcreation is meant to deliver messages thoughtfully and seamlessly. It is executed in such a manner that the target audience would not even have considered or thought that a translation occurred because they're able to identify with it emotionally, easily.

Graphic illustration of people standing in a row holding onto parts of the continents of a world map.

Through transcreation, the goal is simple—to connect with global audiences through meaningful content and copy and adapt to the cultural nuances that come with each different nation. In turn, it will build brand awareness, drive profitability, and boost the brand's overall success.

If your brand is looking into going global and to test the waters to enter international markets, start with transcreation to make sure that your copy will be accepted and understood everywhere. With our team of experts here, we're more than glad to get you started with transcreation, so just reach out to us whenever you're ready!

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