Transcreation & why your business can’t afford to ignore it

Have you ever misinterpreted a text? Have you ever attempted to get across a point that nobody seems to understand? Maybe you find this as frustrating as I do? Language is a two-way street of communication, but occasionally we mess up. We may not think it’s our fault, but sometimes words get mixed up and it it can be easy to get lost in translation in this hectic digitally focused era. This is where transcreation comes in.

Ask yourself the question, how powerful are words? Would the speech behind Winston Churchill’s “We shall fight them on the beaches” be as influentially powerful and moving to the British public if it had not been interpreted correctly? Can you perhaps think of the last time you said something and it didn’t get taken the right way?Churchill cartoonNow ask yourself, how powerful are MY words? You know words are one thing, but interpretation is another. Words carry the energy and spirit of the mind. If you’re business minded like me, you want to aim for and capture the hearts of your customers. Why? Because you care about them and you want them to be a part of your success.

Who do you want to be portrayed as? How to do you want to be seen by the public or your peers? Perhaps you may know that one slip up may be detrimental to the reputation of a company? Words have the ability to build up or dismantle. Thoughtless words have the capacity to evoke a negative response, whereas thoughtful words have the facility to promote positive ones. But sometimes it’s not as easy as that. Sometimes you might have the right intention at heart but you don’t necessarily achieve the results you want.

This is where we dive into the world of transcreation…




Transcreation, it’s best not to get confused…

Fact is…. Translation and transcreation are totally different things and if you’re anyone like me, you’ve got them mixed up before or didn’t even know transcreation existed in the first place. So why should you bother with it?

Simple as it may seem, the term ‘translation’ refers to the content remaining the same and generally a word for word interpretation. Example being, you say, “Hello my friend” and I say “Hola mi amigo” or “Bonjour, mon ami.”

dialogue transcreation team

Transcreation comes into play when the content has been altered to fit cultural expectations, whilst maintaining progress towards the original business objectives and message. And, if approached correctly, removes those cultural obstacles that may be present and works towards building emotional integrity. Transcreation goes beyond language and beyond the tangible form of text you see before your eyes.

Perhaps the best way to show you why transcreation is so important, is by showing you the difficulties of taking your brand slogan into foreign territory:

  • “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline” – Why is this slogan memorable to us? Is it because of alliteration? Or because there is hidden meaning? Or is it because it sounds good when played with the right music? How do we capture this in the target language?

  • What are the challenges in the tag-line “Milk’s gotta lotta bottle”. In this case, the pun makes us smile. Or is the consonance playful in the mouth? Potentially both? And can we do the same in the target language?

milk gotta lotta bottle

  • Why did Beanz Meanz Heinz work? It played with rhyme, it modified and spelled words incorrectly for effect. Despite being first used in 1967 it’s still used today – imagine the job of a transcreationist if he or she had to work with this gif below from 2017!

Cultural values play an important role: we Brits are quite understated and often laugh at ourselves. Would this underplayed claim work in other cultures?

carlsberg transcreation

When transcreating slogans to foreign languages, often they work in English for a specific reason, either they sound right, have dual meaning, use some form of alliteration or all of the above.. Transcreation professionals are experts in this field, and will make sure the slogan works effectively in a particular way. So I ask you this, why would you invest time, effort and finance into something that might position your brand to be interpreted in the wrong fashion? You wouldn’t want to take that risk; I know for certain I wouldn’t.

But it’s not all doom and gloom… Take this success story from Dialogue to see how professional guidance for transcreation can in fact aid the success of your business:

Jamie’s Italian – Dialogue was set the challenge of transcreating the stylistically-challenging menus for Jamie’s restaurants in preparation for expansion into new markets, such as Russia and China. How do you convey the ‘cheeky chappy’ character of Jamie in those languages? Setting the appropriate tone for the brand, Dialogue was able to represent Jamie’s brand style, finding local culturally fitting equivalents for ‘funky’ or ‘posh’ chips. Jamie’s customers will be happy to know what they’re eating now and in the future when dining in luxury! – (Click here to find our case study on Jamie’s Italian).
Next up for the transcreation challenge is ‘lovely jubbly’.

Jamie's Italian transcreation


Much more than talk…a little more about meaning and feeling

To avoid any complications and to hurdle risks of misinterpretation, it is vital to have a team of creative linguistic experts at hand who can deliver the greatest degree of professional advice. So why not place your trust in us?

Here at Dialogue, our transcreation team ensures that your message is delivered effectively across cultures all over the world. We understand that if you want to get your message across successfully, this can be a monumental and exceedingly frustrating task to for anybody to fulfil. With over 20 years of experience, Dialogue offers skilled and proficient services tailored to your interests. We aim to relieve any stress you may experience with transcreation and provide you with the appropriate practical, constructive support you need when dealing with daunting new cultures.

Seek more information about transcreation services Dialogue has to offer, (click here) or call +44 1793 513 321 for more advice from our team of specialists. We don’t bite…

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