The differences between translation and transcreation
The differences between translation and transcreation

Transcreation has become, in recent years, a well-reputed solution for multilingual marketing content, but the differences it bears with regular translation aren’t always clear. Also, transcreation is more expensive and time-consuming, so as an LSP client, you’ll want to know why and when it is the best language service for you. In this article, we look at the difference between translation and transcreation, and we describe some of the reasons why it could be the best investment for your company.

Navigating the multiplicity of language solutions available can be daunting. Translation is most definitely key, but how do you know when you need to resort to other services? Especially if your company is just launching their first multilingual platform, it can be hard to know what is the best language service for you. This article is a roadmap to the main differences between translation and transcreation, with a few tips and suggestions on when it is best to select each. 

Translation is the mother of all language services 

Translation is a general term, used to refer to language services as a whole. A translator’s job is to make sure all of the meaning, style and tone of a text is accurately rendered into a different language. But this does not mean translation is done on a word-for-word basis; in fact, sentence structures often need to be altered in order to preserve meaning and allow readability in the target language.  A translation must remain within the constraints of what is conveyed in the original text, whilst ensuring the target text is as accurate, correct and meaningful.  

Translation is the perfect language solution for business and legal communication such as contracts, agreements and by-laws. It is also the most accurate service when dealing with technical or scientific texts, where terminology is highly specific. For user guides and manuals, where the purpose is to convey clear instructions and the translated text will stay within the same universe as the original text, translation services are also the answer.  

While a professional translator’s job is a creative process in itself, there are certain cases where it does not suffice to create the intended effect. Simply put, if you were to translate content that was written with a specific audience in mind, it will not appeal to an entirely different audience in the same way. This is the case, for example, of branding and marketing content, which is aimed at evoking certain emotions on the public or customers.  

Transcreation: a hybrid between writing and translating 

Transcreation involves a complete reimagining of the original content, with the aim of making it resonate better with a different culture. It is used, for example, in cases where the content includes cultural references such as geographical landmarks, specific traditions or famous characters that are not easily recognized in the target culture. If the purpose of that content is not to refer to those specific details but to create a specific effect in the audience, a transcreator may decide to replace those cultural references by equivalents in the target culture.   

The aim of transcreation is to evoke, in the target audience, the same emotions as the text originally evoked in the source language, even it involves introducing meaning that wasn’t part of the source text. Evidently, this process encompasses more than just translating words and phrases to convey information in another language.  

This is why transcreation is carried out by writers, rather than translators. In fact, when you hire transcreation services from your LSP, they will select specialized writers for your specific field and you will be billed by the hour or project. This is different from hiring translation services, for which a pay per word applies, and the service is more costly.  

Finally, transcreation doesn’t only involve making the words effective in the target language. Because it is a holistic language service, it also involves adapting the visual environment of your text. As such, transcreators may also advise you on the best images, colors, icons and videos to go with your linguistic content.  

When is transcreation the best solution for you? 

You have probably gathered that transcreation is the go-to language service when you need to create new messaging that appeals to a specific target group. The ability to break free from the constraints of the source text and it cultural references and imagery allows transcreators to truly speak to your specific audience. Therefore, transcreation is a more suitable solution when dealing with multilingual marketing and branding content. This applies to websites, brochures, marketing campaigns and even packaging design and imagery. 

Transcreation is focused on transmitting your brand’s voice. Just like marketing strategies in your source language, in order to fully connect with your customer’s needs, aspirations and emotions, you must have a distinct voice and tone. Transcreation is the best way to ensure your voice is “heard” in a cross-cultural environment that differs from yours, because the transcreator will work to understand and recreate your intention.  

When you hire transcreation services, you will need to create a brief for your LSP to base their work on. This will mean they fully understand your intention and help them direct their creativity, as well as allow them to work more freely. Because they won’t need to ask for permission to change specific words, references or images, they will also be faster in achieving a final outcome. However, depending on the amount of copywriting they need to create, their work may take more time than a translation project would.  

LSPs: strategic partners for global communications 

In a globalized world, translation is essential. But depending on your situation, transcreation could be a better investment for your company. Especially when looking to have a lasting impact on a new market, transcreation of your branding could the key. An experienced and professional Language Service Provider (LSP) could be a good strategic partner for your company, as they can give you advice on the best language service for you and help you plan accordingly.