Drawing the lines between transcreation, copywriting and translation

Greater than 2 minutes

Emotive and creative marketing content is often based on local culture in order to engage with consumers, connect with them and meet their unexpressed needs.

​It may seem obvious that a local culture is related to a local territory which is, in turn, often linked with a local language. When this kind of emotive and powerful marketing content is ready to reach new territories, the need to engage with customers in other languages arises once again.

​How to meet this need successfully? Sometimes, transcreation is the answer.

​Transcreation is creative translation with a very high level of adaptation, so high, that in fact, there is usually no translation. Am I sure? Yes, I am. Let’s look at the examples below:

​“It’s im-paw-sible to resist falling in love with these sweet dogs”

​“Bringing the wow factor to the city”

​“Im-paw-sible” and “wow factors” are concepts that exist in the English language, but not in Spanish or some other languages. Hence, it is necessary to recreate the content for a specific language target market, and this process is what I refer to as transcreation.

​Now, let’s push the line a little bit further with the following brand message:

​”They sell the widest range of torque-wrenches north of the border. If you’ve forgotten to buy that all-important birthday present for your hubby, we can courier you a torque-wrench down the M4 before you can say Jack Robinson.”

​Any takers to do the translation? I mean the transcreation, or otherwise, any copywriters willing to write a new message from scratch?

​I dare say that the target text “inspired” by this source text will slightly resemble the original. Sometimes, however, localisation, adaptation or even transcreation fails; this is where copywriting comes into play.

​Finally, let’s go to the end of the message: “Go back to our home page to discover more offers”.

​In this sentence, the expression “home page” may not exist in other languages. In Spanish, for example, the appropriate rendition will be “página de inicio” (start page). However, no creativity is needed; every single professional linguist would agree on the same translation.

​Word-for-word translation rarely works, and translation always involves a certain degree of adaptation. Otherwise, machines could do the work of translators perfectly.

​So what really is transcreation? It is the service that fills the gap between copywriting and translation.

David García Ruiz – MA, MCIL, AITI

Translation | Transcreation | SEO Copywriting

David Garcia Ruiz

About David Garcia Ruiz

7 thoughts on “Drawing the lines between transcreation, copywriting and translation

  1. Thank you, David! Being not too familiar with transcreation and copywriting, I feel that the two of them sometimes (seem to) overlap… What about when a company decides to adapt the name of a product to the target culture? (The example of the Mitsubishi Pajero gaffe in Spain comes to mind..) Is that considered copywriting?

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  2. Being a translator, I sometimes wonder why international companies choose transcreation instead of copywriting (writing a new text). A transcreation circle seems quite complex: raw translation, transcreation, linguistic revision, revision by customer’s marketing team etc. However, the result often sounds “foreign” because the translator/transcreator sticks to the original text (even if unwillingly).

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