Content Translation

5 Steps for a Successful Transcreation Project

Transcreation is a term used mainly by marketing professionals to change a message from one language to the other while maintaining its tone, style and context.

What Is The Difference Between Transcreation, Translation, and localization?

In simple words, translation means translating the words from one language to another. The translator has to add their own skills to keep the essence of what the author originally says. As a result, no two translators will produce the same translated text, although both are right.

Transcreation means translating and recreating the original content in a new form, while keeping its intent and context. This should be done by honoring the cultural and social norms of your target audience. The person doing the transcreation can be free to make significant changes in order to keep the style unchanged. 

Localization, on the other hand, is much more complicated. It is the process of adapting your web content to be more appealing for local consumption. It involves changing the source language to be more appropriate for customers’ cultural preferences.

This is a quick video I made to define transcreation briefly.

What Parts of the Your Marketing Campaign Need Transcreation!

Transcreation can be done in all parts of a marketing campaign, such as taglines, ads, slogans, etc. By understanding the targeted audience and not just the region, transcreation can be the best marketing tool if the company wants to go global. Transcreation analyzes the consumers’ needs and expectations. For example, different images, models, even graphics can be used to appeal to consumers in different communities and societies. Understanding cultural references and taboos can greatly affect the success of a marketing campaign. Idioms and jokes have to be adapted. Choosing the right celebrity to endorse the product is so important. 

Examples of Transcreation

  • Mitsubishi Motors failed to make any sales when it launched its Pajero model in Spain. This is because the word “pajero” means tosser in Spanish. They chose to change the name to Montero for the Spanish audience when they realised the mistake they made.
  • McDonald’s translated their tagline “I’m loving it!” to “I just like it!” for their Chinese campaign. This is because in China it is pretty offensive to use the word “love” in public. Their transcreation approach was quite successful and culturally smart.
  • Dove is a leading company that sells soap and beauty products. Their campaign on accepting different body images was a huge failure in China. The Chinese couldn’t accept the idea of less than perfect models advertising a beauty product.

Factors of a Good Transcreation Project!

1. Choosing a Native Translator:

Knowing the language and understanding what the words mean are two different things. Many countries use two forms of a language; the formal and colloquial form. Simply just being aware of the colloquial form doesn’t necessarily mean understanding how it is used in daily life. The use of idioms and even slang can greatly affect how the campaign goes. A native translator will also be aware of the cultural notion of the words as they have lived in the target country. They know what is acceptable and what is considered a cultural taboo.

2. Defining the Purpose of the Text:

Understanding the purpose of the text, whether it is to push the reader to buy or simply to create brand awareness, will determine how transcreation can be used. A good transcreation team will understand how the original campaign needs to be adapted to suit the needs and expectations of the target audience. 

3. Providing Detailed Information About the Project:

Providing sufficient information about the project is essential for the transcreation team successfully do their job. This includes detailed information about the audience, the purpose of the message, and the medium of the text, such as whether it will be used online or on TV and other important data. It will help the team recreate the content, choosing the appropriate tools to be more appealing to the target audience. 

4. Considering the Cultural Background of the Text:

Understanding social, cultural, historical, religious and political taboos will make the transcreation process more successful. This includes reference to elderly people, consuming alcohol, how the models dress and behave, and relationships between opposite sexes. Failing to take these points into consideration can make a successful campaign fail elsewhere.

5. Accurate Transcreation Process:

It is extremely important to compare texts before making your final decision. You should at least have three options for each text, have it back translated and then finally revised by a local expert. 


Transcreation is one of the most important tools that companies should utilize if they want to reach global audiences. The marketing world is full of examples where transcreation was a huge success or a great failure. The process of transcreation should be run by professionals who fully understand the product they are selling, and are also aware who is going to use this product. Understanding and analyzing consumers’ needs, expectations and restrictions can greatly affect the end results of the transcreation project. The successful analysis of the language, paying attention to cultural differences, and the appropriate use of idioms will definitely make any transcreation project a great success.

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