Professional translation

International marketing

Translation or transcreation, which do you need?

Read time: 5 minutes


When a company decides to open up shop in other markets, it must take into account that each new area is unique in its own way, with its own cultural traits, its own philosophy of life and certainly a sense of humor different from other countries and cultures.

The process of adapting a text to fit another language can be very different depending on the nature of the content to be translated and the overarching goal. 

There are several types of translation, and to determine which one best suits your content, first you need to identify the needs and goals of your project.

For example, when it comes to marketing and advertising translation, transcreation is a must.

Throughout this article you will discover what transcreation is, which projects require it and how it is applied.

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What is transcreation or creative translation?

Transcreation is creative marketing translation, which aims to convey the intent, style and tone of a message across cultural barriers in order to elicit the same emotional reaction as the message in the source language. 

The way we communicate and interact with another person in marketing and advertising changes according to language and culture, hence why it’s so important. 

Traditional translation obviously also takes cultural factors into account and does not need to come across as a literal word-for-word adaptation of the text, but in terms of transcreation, what most sets it apart is just that, its creativity.

To transcreate, translators need to be more than just fluent in the language, with one example being the need to understand the local shopper’s mindset.

Transcreation involves greater creativity and freedom because it aims to cause the same commercial impact as source texts, for example.

As we said, the translated text aims to elicit the same reaction in the target audience as the source text does in the source country.

This may require  translators to stray far from the source text in order to cause the same reaction in the new language and cultural context.

So, transcreating is the sum of translating and creating something new.

Some examples of real transcreations

Have you ever wondered why some brands are successful all over the world, with claims and slogans that work across every market?

It’s no coincidence, transcreation plays a key role here.

Here are some examples: 


This is a great example. They hit the nail right on the head with their translation of the iPhone SE advertising launch claim. This device could be purchased in black, white and red, and this is how their English advertising went: "Comes in Black. White. And Pow." for the United States. 

However, in their advertising for Spain they translated it as: “Viene en negro (Comes in black). En blanco (In white). Y olé (And olé)." Is transcreating translating? Of course not. 

  apple pow transcreation    apple olé transcreation

Differences between translation and transcreation

The biggest difference between a transcreation and a standard translation is that the latter tends to be more literal and the target text  sticks  to the source text as closely as possible, while respecting the linguistic equivalence in the new language.

However, this does not always work for creative translation or transcreation. Literal translation rarely works for slogans, claims, sales copy and other types of marketing content. The source text may include untranslatable puns or plays on words that do not have the same meaning in the target language.

Transcreators must capture the essence of the message to recreate it in a way that meets the goal of the advertising, and be able to reproduce the concept, tone and intention of the source text.

This means that transcreators need more than just translation skills. As we said before, they have to understand the marketing’s intentions and translate them into their creative work.

With this in mind, let’s briefly review  the key differences between standard translation and transcreation:

  • Transcreation requires an extra dose of linguistic creativity
  • Transcreation requires professionals understand and be aligned with the goals behind marketing
  • Transcreation involves persuasive copy with an emotional impact
  • Transcreation must maintain branding
  • How we approach regular translation and transcreation is different
  • The skillset of professionals who know how to transcreate is also different

Although these are general distinctions between transcreation and standard translation, these are not always hard-and-fast. A marketing text can also be effectively translated using standard translation, which does not require transcreation to persuade and generate emotional impact, as long as the source phrase can be translated as is to the target audience.

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Marketing-specialized translation  

Given these specific features, if your project deals with sales, marketing, communication or advertising, you will most likely require marketing-specialized translation. In other words, a team able to transcreate.

Getting the right translation team is no easy task. The translation provider must have the ability to adapt to the specific nature and needs of the projects, and to apply the most fitting solutions in each case.

These professionals must be able to capture the company’s essence and provide an adaptation that is true to the brand in the target country without losing sight of the business goal and mission, as well as the marketing and sales strategies.

Here at iDISC, we have over 30 years of experience as a translation agency, during which time we have helped our customers enter new markets using the most innovative technology and alongside expert professionals.

Our teams are specialized in a variety of industries and content, and are made up of professional native translators from the 40+ languages, language variants and target markets we handle.

If these reasons have convinced you that we are the perfect partner for your project, feel free to get in touch.

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