Marketing translation: the transcreation process

Marketing translation demands more than simple translation. You’ve carefully crafted your message to convey your brand personality and appeal to your audience at an emotional level. To reach hearts as well as minds, you use familiar words and symbols to excite, intrigue, or reassure the potential customer. However, some words and symbols that work well in one culture may not have the desired effect—and may even have a negative effect—in another culture. This is why you need more than a literal translation. You require transcreation. 

What is transcreation? Transcreation produces a foreign-language version of your content with the same emotional impact as the source.

Finding the right partner for marketing translation

When localizing a campaign, choose a language service partner with marketing translation experience. Transcreation, or foreign-language copywriting, is a specialized skill. Marketing translators have the creative writing skills to understand your source material and adapt it to their culture. In addition, they’ll evaluate more than the text. They might also recommend changing colors and graphics to be more attractive or meaningful to the target audience.

Balancing global and local

Transcreation helps you reach your audience at an emotional level. However, don’t obscure your basic branding by over-localizing. Balancing local vs. global choices on multilingual websites is a big concern for corporate marketers. The same tension holds true for all marketing translation. How far should transcreation go?

To ensure consistent branding across languages, try not to exercise a lot of editorial control over what professional linguists do with your message. Instead, provide them with certain guidelines up front.

Brand usage guidelines: These describe the basic branding elements and the brand “personality.” They also specify which terms should stay in the source language and what tone of voice should be used in brand marketing.

Glossaries:  Provide lists of specialized terms used in your industry as well as common terms that have special meanings in the context of your products. Also include definitions or explanations where necessary. If translations for any of these terms have already been used in earlier projects, include them. Over time, you can build a useful term base with translation variations required for different localities. In addition, this establishes a foundation for multilingual keyword research. Finally, if you plan to use foreign-language voice-overs for multimedia, include pronunciation guides.

Target Audience Identity: Let your translation provider know, as specifically as possible, who you need to target. The same language can be spoken very differently in different locations. For example, are you targeting Spanish speakers in a particular country or region, or as members of a particular demographic? Be as detailed as possible. Existing customer personas can serve as useful references.

Creative briefs:  Provide a creative brief for the specific marketing campaign to provide guidance on style, tone, and usage specific to that particular project. Skilled marketing translators will use these briefs to guide their writing.

Stay true to your brand

Finally, the basic marketing message you send out for localization is very important. When setting up a foreign-language marketing campaign, make sure to include the overarching brand personality, in addition to any campaign-specific concepts. Your language service partner will use that as a starting point for developing the various localized versions.

The key to multicultural content marketing? Combining global messages with local ideas. Plan your messages with localization in mind, and work with professionals to create compelling multilingual marketing content for audiences around the world.