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Transcreation, a world within a word

As anyone who has tried to translate a song into another language can tell you, it rarely works. Sure, you can translate the words one by one, but the sentiment and phraseology rarely work.  

There is a whole channel of YouTube videos where people have translated songs into other languages and then back and then sing the results. They are hilarious, for sure, but that isn't the message you want to get across when you are working in the global market. This is why Transcreation skills and expertise are so important.  

So, what is Transcreation and why is it so important?  

Transcreation is a concept used in the field of translation studies to describe the process of adapting a message from one language to another while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context. The translation itself is not word for word but allows for cultural differences in order to maintain the message. A good example of this is:   

Think about how companies use logos to sell their brands. Sometimes the logo is a couple of words, and it is very powerful, but translating these rarely works well.  

For example, the slogan, Come Alive! You’re in The Pepsi Generation that Pepsi Cola used in the 1960s was created for an American audience. They wanted to promote the drink to a young and vibrant audience, looking forward to their futures in America. However, through their international success, Pepsi started to sell outside of the US, and in fact, it decided to move into the Chinese market. When it transported their U.S. advertising campaign to China, their tagline was translated into Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave. It was an obvious disaster, sales dropped drastically and beyond that, the company struggled to regain trust in that market.   

Slogans and marketing materials are usually designed to attract the audience in which the company is based. A good transcreation company is working to protect brands and to convey their message while maintaining the spirit that the slogan originally intended.   

For example, the Chevy Nova did not do very well in Latin America because the word nova in Spanish means doesn’t go.   

However, other brands, such as McDonald's used Transcreation professionals when launching their ‘I’m lovin’ it’ slogan, and it was adapted into different, culturally appropriate local slogans such as ‘I like it’ and ‘I appreciate it’.  

This goes to show that it is vitally important to find not only the best translation of your product or marketing need but to find a transcreation specialist who can guide you to the best understanding and culturally appropriate image for your business. 

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