How To Achieve Global Brand Success Through Transcreation


A marketing campaign doesn’t always go over well in multiple cultures.

That’s because marketing tends to be imbued with creative flair in order to elicit an emotional response from audiences. Humor. Word play. Analogies. Each culture is going to naturally have its own standards and expectations as to what’s funny, engaging or memorable.

What does this mean for the global marketer? For one thing, it means you shouldn’t expect to simply translate your marketing verbiage, splash your ads all over creation and wait for international sales to start spiking.

So What’s The Answer?  Transcreation

Think of it as language translation on steroids. Instead of merely translating the words in a tagline, you’re completely re-creating them for a new culture. This helps ensure that the essential emotive intent or meaning resonates with the people whose hearts you’re trying to capture.

Same Song, Different Voice

Transcreation upholds the very things your company is known and celebrated for
Most important to remember is that transcreation upholds the very things your company is known and celebrated for. Your brand voice, identity, characteristics and traits. It’s just done in such a way that harmonizes with a given culture’s expectations.

Start by thinking about how your company wants to be known globally. Is your image quirky, elegant, powerful – or something else? Copywriter linguists will take this guidance and weave it into the copy, dialogue and imagery to bring it home in other cultures so your brand voice comes through loud and clear.

For example, in an advertisement, the phrase “You’ve got a zest for life” next to a picture of a lime might make perfect sense in your home country. But attempting to translate it word for word could be impossible if there is no equivalent word for “zest” in the target language. And if the target country’s inhabitants would view limes as a strange novelty – because maybe they’re not stocked in stores generally – that image would need to change, too.

Transcreation strengthens who you are as a global brand because it allows every unique aspect of your company image to shine in all your marketing campaigns and materials. As you might imagine, this is infinitely preferable to blasting one universal message to several audiences. Comparatively, the spray and pray technique is more likely to annoy, baffle or alienate your prospective customers. Literally translating your content for multiple markets without the cultural adaption component may mean missing the mark and hence the market.

However, not just any linguist can take up the mantle of transcreation duties. Because the degree of specialization is so high, only certain individuals have the skills to deliver. Be sure that the language services provider you choose understands this crucial fact – and has properly qualified teams lined up. The language service partner you select should effectively be your brand champion across languages and locales.

Look Beyond Your Own Walls

Suppose you’ve got a coworker who speaks the target language fluently and knows a thing or two about marketing. Asking this person to help with transcreation might seem like a low-stress, low-cost solution. But it’s far from wise.

The importance of deep cultural familiarity is critical for any translation endeavor—and transcreation is certainly no exception. Only a native and current resident of the target country has innate knowledge of that culture. And since culture shifts take place continually in all parts of the world, being in tune with the evolving cultural climate can make all the difference when reinventing an effective slogan, tagline, commercial or ad campaign for a given audience.

Choosing to outsource your linguistic copywriting makes sense from a strategic standpoint. But keep in mind that things can get messy very quickly if you plan on searching for these resources, screening them, testing their linguistic skills and managing the quality of their work, all at home base.

The right language services provider can remove all of those burdens. Look for one with experienced project management teams, translation project workflow technology, a multi-step quality assurance process and regular reporting on the effectiveness of your transcreation efforts. And one with a global footprint across several continents helps.

Your provider should offer you total insight into your projects and be a true partner.

Advice For Successful Transcreation

The sooner you talk with your language service partner about your anticipated transcreation project needs, the better. Expect to discuss each and every facet of your brand. This knowledge will be instrumental in crafting spot-on marketing content for your international audiences.

Tips At A Glance:

  • Familiarize yourself with all of your source content – seek input from your marketing teams to guide you. This will enable you to identify what the core message should be for all audiences. Then you and your language service partner can share this input with the marketing linguist team, who will figure out how to effectively adapt and convey that messaging for each audience.
  • Customer-facing materials should always receive priority treatment for transcreation
    Be aware that customer-facing materials should always receive priority treatment for transcreation. Your company website in particular should be right up there in terms of priority, if not number one. Along the same lines, the visual representations of your brand – like taglines and logos – are critically important. These may require transcreation as well to ensure they impress your new audiences.
  • Remember that all of the content on your website should be given the same attention as well, including videos and other multimedia.
  • Plan for a slightly longer timeframe for transcreation compared to the traditional translate-edit-proof process due to its degree of specialization and deeper involvement.
  • Think about how much responsibility you want to give the marketing linguists. Should they perform local market research? Do you want them to review your source content? Firming up these preferences up front really streamlines the way the project flows.

Transcreation is all about re-creating a marketing message—and its central purpose is to preserve your core brand identity. That, after all, is what makes you who you are as a brand. With this solution, you can be well on your way to strengthening that all-important global identity.