Transcreation versus Translation
Transcreation refers to the translation of adverts and slogans. The purpose of the translation is not simply to say the same thing in another language. It is also to convey the look and feel of the original text, so it has the same impact on readers in another country. A visual example would be to use an Asian model to advertise a product sold in Asia, and a black model to sell the same product in African countries.
An advert text for the English market might focus on two women in an office having a conversation about a product or service. To use the same text in Saudi Arabia, it must be adapted to feature a conversation between two men.
Will an advert featuring two children playing on their own in the woods evoke emotions of a carefree, happy childhood in adult viewers? Or has the culture in a particular country changed so much that the same images cause fear and strong criticism? Maybe because the adults just let their children face dangerous situations unsupervised?
The use and translation of metaphors also require attention. In Northern countries, “to use something like water” means to use it liberally. In many dryer countries, the same expression conveys a sense of using something carefully and sparingly.
A transcreation specialist is therefore mostly a creative writer who is briefed far more comprehensively than a translator. The transcreator needs to understand the creative concepts that underpin the text. He or she must also understand also the responses it should produce in the reader or viewer.
What can clients do?
Ideally, clients provide a brief, describing all the requirements regarding tone, style, target audience, purpose of the text etc. We therefore advise that clients work very closely with transcreators. In many cases, the client asks for two or three versions of the target text. These include literal back translations and explanations for the pros and cons of the various options, as well as the reasons they have been chosen.
The charge for transcreation is based on an hourly rate, but some companies have set rates for short ads at £50-£70 per advert.
This article was written by Erika Baker, English-German translator.