“Transcreation is to translation what copywriting is to writing.” (Percy Balemans)


The definition

Transcreation is a mixture of “translation” and “creation”, and it means exactly that: the perfect cocktail made out of the original translation and new “creations”.

There is a reason why transcreation is often used in marketing and advertisement. It becomes essential for international brands to not simply translate their brand’s message, but to adapt it to the target group with finesse and creativity.


Reasons for transcreation

You probably already guessed: Transcreation is needed when a message must seamlessly be transferred from one culture to another. Some examples of transcreations will show us why it is important to rely on a good translation agency specialized in transcreation. Indeed, at Smylingua, we translate more than words, we translate ideas and we adapt it the target culture. You can trust Smylingua for your transcreations.


Bad transcreation examples

The Ford “Pinto” car model: In Brazil, “Pinto” colloquially refers to small male genitals, you can then see how it could be perceived by the public…

The vacuum cleaner manufacturer Electrolux decided to use “Nothing sucks like at Electrolux” as an advertising slogan. Not a good idea … because certain people understood that: “Nothing is as bad as an Electrolux”. This is a perfect example of a bad translation that can was devastating effects on your marketing!


Good transcreation examples

In our opinion, Tefal, a French kitchen utensils brand,  did “it” very well, with their German slogan “Ohne Tefal. Ohne mich” when they translated it into Spanish…

The result?

“¿Te falta Tefal?” (You need a Tefal?)

We all know the Haribo slogan “Kids and grown-up love it so, the happy world of Haribo”. The German brand asked translators all over the world to keep the rhythm if it was possible so that the song could be translated in different languages:

The original slogan in German:  “Haribo macht Kinder Froh und Erwachsene ebenso”

The French one: “Haribo, c’est beau la vie, pour les grands et les petits”

Transcreation is not only about translating words, it can alos be about rhythm, visuals, etc. You should also remember that sometimes, translators need to think for a while before fining out the perfect solution.

Interestingly, however, VW and Renault have made a successful transcreation … Without it actually being a transcreation!

Who doesn’t know Renault’s old TV advertising slogan in Germany:

“Renault – Créateur d’automobile”

The same can be said for the French in relation to VW, because every French people knows the slogan “VW – Das Auto.”

However, we advise using this strategy with caution. A real transcreation will be conceived specifically for your target audience and consequently, it will have a greater impact.

Do not forget that a bad transcreation could cost your your brand image…


Transcreation or translation?

Surely, while reading this article, you have noticed how important it is for international brands to adapt the message to the target country’s cultural identity while respecting any negative connotations.

In general, transcreation is suitable for the following purposes:

  • Branding
  • Corporate Identity
  • Marketing
  • External communication in general
  • Advertising

Lydia Davis, a well-known American translator and writer once said:

“A frustrating feature of translation lies in the restraint that the work commands; you have to be faithful to the text, avoid sliding into your own style or, even worse, expressing your own ideas. “

With transcreation, we take a different route, one that is centered around the text adaptation for your target audience, without forgetting about the meaning of the source text.


If translation is an obedient sheep, transcreation is a wild rocker

Transcreation has only one goal: to deliver the message … no matter how! In plain language this could mean that only one word from the original text could end up being a sentence, or that a sentence could be turned into just one word, or that it could result in a totally new content. Creativity is the motto here.

This is why the transcreator needs to have a greater scope than the translator, like additional skills, especially experience in the advertising industry and a high degree of creativity.

Are you still unsure if a translation or a transcreation fits your needs? Let’s talk about it – we’ll make you a tailor-made offer! And remember, Hiring a translation agency – always the better choice !

If you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact Smylingua today by e-mail at contact@smylingua.com or by phone at +33 1 76 43 32 76.

Cette publication est également disponible en : Français (French) English Deutsch (German) Polski (Polish)

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