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What is Transcreation?

Adapting a message from one language to another

Maira Eckert | 05th November 2015

When a marketing campaign cannot be translated, it needs to be created directly in the local language

Transcreation is a term that is becoming more widely used by the translation industry. In fact, looking at our own Google Analytics, we are noticing it is being used more and more, as it has become one of the most popular terms that drives traffic to our own website.

With transcreation being so fundamental for the successful internationalisation of a brand and crucial for the positive reception of a marketing campaign in a foreign market, we decided to share with you what it means and why it is so important for companies aiming to expand globally.

Transcreation from Conversis



Transcreation is defined as the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. It is the creative recreation of a concept in another language, generally for marketing purposes.

Sometimes clients develop marketing campaigns with visuals, taglines and text and think that the same campaign can be easily translated into other languages and used in different countries (maintaining the visuals and headlines). However, what we do at Conversis when we receive these translation requests is to analyse whether the visuals of the campaign are suitable for the target markets and more importantly, whether the text content and headlines can be easily translated.

Sometimes, an idiom or a play on words is not translatable at all and the headline being used for the brand campaign may need to be created in the local language - this is transcreation. When a marketing campaign cannot be translated, it needs to be created directly in the local language following the brief from the client and the intent of the brand for that market.

In regard to the visuals, these too may need to be adapted for a specific target language, taking into the local cultural, social, and political differences.

Prior to the start of the transcreation project, Conversis will often recommend carrying out a cultural consultation for the brand in the local target markets. This would include making sure that the campaign is suitable for the markets that the client wants to run it in. It would also give the client an idea about the competitor landscape, outlining what kind of campaigns the brand’s biggest competitors have run in that particular market.

Listed below is how Conversis carries out its Transcreation Process, once the target markets are defined and brand guidelines have been analysed:

  1. Our client sends us the headlines/content to be transcreated alongside the briefs about the brand, the product/service, the company, the target audience, and the tone of voice
  2. Conversis defines the linguist copywriters for the transcreation project. Transcreation + revision by a second independent translator to check if he/she agrees with the recommendations provided by the first translator;
  3. Conversis provides to the client a table with a recommendation, 1-2 alternatives, English back translations and rationales & comments section for each headline.

Back translations are always given as a standard as our global clients might not understand the language the transcreation is in. Back translations are for the global client to assess if the copywriter/local client has not moved too far from the original idea and the way that you want to present your brand globally.

Comment/rationales explain the approach that we needed to take for the transcreation, giving some insight and cultural background to the choice of words and explaining why the copywriter needed to change the original turn of phrase, whilst retaining the overall feel of the original, to fit the particular market.

Case Study:

We worked on a recent transcreation project for an advertising agency that has developed an app aimed at 5-10 year old children (mainly boys) who suffer from a specific disease. The app needed to be adapted into several languages including Italian and there were various instances where transcreation was needed.

The main character of the app was a dragon and it enabled the patients (users of a specific drug) and also their parents/relatives to share their experiences and also encouraged them to interact with the app and the overall study.

The dragon mentioned: A-blazing! “amazing + blazing”.
Our Challenge: Find a similar play with words in Italian:
Solution: a-blazing = Raaargh! Sarebbe fiamtastico! (you are Fiamtastico!)

FIAMtastico > a combination of “flame” and “fantastic” so works very well and retains the English idea of “amazing + blazing”.

We hope this blog post on Transcreation was interesting and informative for you.

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