5 differences between marketing translation and transcreation

by | Jun 8, 2018

Are you thinking of making your brand go global?

If so, pay close attention to this article. We’ll cover the main differences between two types of translation for advertising that can help you go global: marketing translation and transcreation.

Your brand is so much more than text. It covers messages, images, colors, emotions, etc. As such, when attempting to internationalize it, you’ll need more than just language expertise to get your message across properly. And that’s when these two specialized types of translation come into play.

It’s true. Marketing translation and transcreation are generally very similar, and they’re often confused and used as synonyms.

Some of the similarities are:

  • they both require advertising and marketing knowledge.
  • they both have the same goal of making you convert more and, consequently, sell more.
  • they both convert a message from one language to another.

What are the differences?

Despite their similarities and the fact that they complement each other, they also have great differences you must keep in mind when deciding which one to use.

Here, we present you 5 of these differences:

1. Work: adapting vs. recreating

Marketing translation is a mix between translation and localization. It deals with adapting texts from one language to another, considering idioms, slang, references, and any specific cultural quirk.

Transcreation, a.k.a. creative translation or international adaptation, deals with recreating advertising materials from one culture to another.

2. Scope: copy vs. whole branding

Marketing translation only works with the copy of your materials. It adapts the text within them, making them perfect for the target audience.

Instead, transcreation works with all the elements of your materials.

For example, if you wanted to adapt a landing page for a totally new audience, marketing translation would help you with the main text of it, and transcreation would make sure all the taglines, puns, images, colors, and even logo are culturally suitable for your audience.

3. Skills: copywriting vs. translation

Because the scope of transcreation is bigger than in marketing translation, the abilities required for it are different and more demanding in terms of creativity.

A transcreator should be a highly creative professional with perfect language and marketing skills. They should be a mix of a translator, copywriter, and marketer.

In marketing translation, the skills required are much closer to translation and cultural understanding itself than to a very deep marketing knowledge.

4. Intention: understanding vs. emotionally accepting

Marketing translation worries about making sure the message is suited for the target audience. It makes sure local people can understand what you’re trying to say in a close and native manner.

In transcreation, the goal is making your message naturally speak to your target locale, eliciting the same emotions and reactions as the original message.

In short, marketing translation generates an, “Oh, I totally get what you are saying,” reaction, and transcreation generates a, “Wow, I get it and why am I thinking of my childhood again?” reaction.

5. Approach: from the original content vs. from the ground up

Both of these advertising translations have different scopes and intentions, and this also affects the approach taken before working on the projects.

Marketing translation starts with the original content. Everything begins and ends with the text itself.

On the other hand, transcreation needs to start from the ground up. It needs to be thought with a total local perspective, and sometimes, it’s even necessary to reevaluate the whole project or campaign and start from scratch.

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