Here is a true story that represents a great example for transcreation.
I was talking with my wife about my need to buy some tools, and here is how the conversation went:
Me: I will buy some stuff for my business, but I will wait for Black Friday discounts.
My wife: You mean White Friday discounts?
Me: No, I meant Black Friday.
My Wife: I never heard of Black Friday in Egypt.
Me: In the United States they call it Black Friday, but in Egypt and the Arab world they call it White Friday in most cases.
Turning Black Friday into White Friday is an obvious example of transcreation and why it is important for companies who want to translate their marketing material.
But why do Arabs call this huge sales day “White” and not “Black”?
The word “black” in Arabic triggers feelings of sadness and mourning. Women in the Arab world wear black clothes to express grief and sorrow.
If you are visiting someone who is seriously sick, usually people in the Arab world wear dark clothes on purpose, such as black and dark blue.
So, black in Arabic does not refer to happiness or joy. There is always something bad happening.
In order to make sense to the people in the Arab market, “Black Friday” was translated as “White Friday”
This is a clear way of avoiding literal translation and using transcreation for marketing campaigns.
But what is Transcreation?
It is the creative translation of marketing material, such as slogans and advertisements, from one language to another to achieve the goal of the original text. It is not a standard translation process, as transcreation involves more creative work. There is a difference between translation and transcreation.
Standard and direct translation is about transferring and sticking to the meaning of the source text. This happens by using the standard translation of words and sentences in the original text. Of course, I am not referring to literal translation. Standard translation should follow the source text and has limited options to deviate from it.
While with transcreation, linguists or translators have much more space to deviate from the source. Their main job is to convey the message of the source marketing text, even if the target language text deviates from the source language
Samsung S6 AdsTranslation: a Bold Transcreation Example
Another great example is the translation of the Samsung S6 smartphone into Arabic.
The English phrase said “Next is now”, while the Arabic translation is “سابق عصره”, which means “Beyond the Present”.
The core message of “Next is now” is that the S6 smartphone is using technology no one else is using now, because it is the technology of the future.
The Arabic sentence “سابق عصره” or “Beyond the Present” is not only keeping the core message of the English text, but it is a common phrase in Arabic that has the same message. By using such a common phrase, the Arabic text would look like it was written for the Arab world, not just a translation of another English phrase.
Who Can Offer Transcreation Services?
Not all translators or translation agencies can provide transcreation services. As you can see, this type of creative translation requires certain skills. However, here are some guidelines to follow when choosing a supplier who can offer transcreation services:
- Native speaker of the language: it doesn’t matter how fluent the translator or the expert in the target language is. They have to be native speakers of the language. Only natives know the nuances of their languages.
- Resident of the target country: you need to make sure the transcreation expert lives in the target country your campaign is made for. This ensures they are aware of the culture and synonyms used there.
- Master of marketing translation: transcreation is all about creativity. Marketing translation is very close to transcreation. So check if your translator has been working in marketing translation for a long time as it improves their creativity.
The Cost of Transcreation?
Translation work is often charged by word or by page, though this depends on the country and industry.
Transcreation is different.
It takes time and energy to find a suitable creative translation for the source text. The linguist or the translator creates different versions for the slogan of the advertisement that requires transcreation.
So, usually transcreation work is charged per project or a flat price. Also, the per hour price is used in some projects as well.
For a linguist to be excellent in transcreation work, it requires hard work, study and comparison between different versions. It is an energy consuming work and needs to be compensated well.
Creating a translated copy for marketing assets is not an easy task and should not be assigned to any supplier. You need someone who is able to convey your message and the goals of y original text.
Transcreation examples are the best ways to show the difference between direct translation and creative transcreation work. As you can see Black Friday has been translated to White Friday. “Next is Now” has been translated as “Beyond the Present”.
Use a native speaker who is living in the target country and familiar with marketing translation to ensure you have a top-notch transcreation of your slogan or advertisement.
Leave a comment below and let us know if you have additional thoughts about transcreation or more examples.