Transcreation: How Words Generate Allure Across Borders

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What is transcreation? What is a creative translation process? Join Thao & Co. to discover how words can captivate audiences worldwide through creative translation.

The power and elegance of language lie in its ability to convey precise information, emotions, and messages. This is precisely why transcreation holds such appeal and interest from numerous brands seeking to “expand” their marketing efforts into new markets.

What is Transcreation?

Transcreation (creative translation) is a distinctive approach to language conversion involving adapting content from one language to another while preserving the emotion and spirit of the source material. This approach harmoniously blends the art of translation with creative thinking.

During the transcreation process, translators may incorporate inventive elements to ensure accurate information and maintain the integrity and cultural significance of the message.

Hence, transcreation is most commonly used in fields that value creativity and emotion, such as in advertising and marketing, entertainment, literature, etc. In these fields, transcreators must use a combination of translation skills and creative imagination to guarantee that the essential essence of words and their “soul” stays intact.

What Types of Content Benefit from transcreation?

As an emerging trend in the translation industry, transcreation excels at crafting translations that closely resemble the source text’s spirit. However, it is vital to emphasize that this method isn’t appropriate for all textual information.

For example, transcreation is likely not a good fit for patent translation, scientific papers, technical manuals, training materials, etc. These documents require near-perfect accuracy in presenting information, where even tiny changes might result in a significant deviation from the original content.

Transcreation targets emotional and creative nuances. Therefore, this type of translation is best suited for content that exhibits these distinct qualities. Some excellent candidates for creative translation are as follows:

  1. ● Literary masterpieces, short stories, poetry, novels, and prose
  2. Scripts, film titles, television programs, and movies
  3. Marketing materials, brand names, product names, slogans, posters, and promotional texts

Learn more about transcreation types to find the best suitable service that meets your needs.

Thao & Company offers professional advertising and marketing translation services for slogans, taglines, ad copies, commercials, landing pages, and more.
Creative Translation is regularly used in Advertising and Marketing

How does Transcreation Take a Distinctive Approach?

As opposed to general translation, transcreation blends methodological precision with bold creativity. As a result, transcreation requires linguists to exhibit a comprehensive set of skills and attributes.

The most noticeable difference in this translation approach is its reliance on creative thinking. More than linguistic accuracy is needed in domains where the objective is to stand out and leave an indelible mark on readers. For example, translating a brand’s slogan is akin to a “heartfelt confession” that needs to be genuine but also exceptional and impactful. Only in this way can a brand truly succeed in establishing a significant presence in the hearts and thoughts of its target audience.

Every skilled transcreator captures the most genuine essence of a “literary translator” (as defined by Nguyen Tuan) – a dedicated artisan who painstakingly polishes every word and sentence. Transcreation is an artistic masterpiece meticulously crafted through skillful manipulation of language, clever wordplay, and, most importantly, an intricate emotional connection. Crafting translations faithful to the original and harmonious with the destination language demands the expertise of linguists who are not only gifted writers but also have a deep understanding of the subject matter, the target culture, and the preferences of the intended audience.

As evident, transcreation involves crafting a fresh version that remains faithful to the original. It allows for the condensation of words, the alteration of expression, and even the addition of new material as long as the essential message of the source text is preserved. Consequently, even the most experienced translators face a formidable obstacle regarding creative translation.

How to get General Translation Services - Thao & Co.

The challenge of transcreation is exemplified in the translation of haiku poetry from Japan. Haiku are short poems that consist of three lines, 17 syllables, with a 5-7-5 syllable structure for each line. Given their brevity and essence, translators often encounter challenges in fully capturing the beauty inherent in Haiku poetry.

For example, the poem – “The Old Pond” by Matsuo Bashō has been translated into English while adhering to syllabic rules and preserving the concise nature and vivid imagery characteristic of the Haiku genre:

古池や (Furuike ya)

蛙飛込 (kawazu tobikomu)

水の音 (mizu no oto)

The translation:

An old silent pond

A frog jumps into the pond

Splash! Silence again.

Every translation of Haiku poetry results from the translator’s laborious work with language. This is because, to translate Haiku and other foreign works creatively, translators must have a profound grasp of the language and a thorough awareness of the work’s origins, the author’s life, and the historical and cultural background of the native country. 

How Transcreation Strategically Enhances a Brand’s Appeal

It is no coincidence that transcreation was first used primarily in marketing and advertising. When venturing into new markets, transcreation empowers brands to execute marketing initiatives that engage successfully through creative linguistic adaptations aligning seamlessly with local culture.

Successful communication initiatives thrive when delivering consumer-centric messages. Transcreation is a potent support tool for brands in achieving this objective. It offers notable and precisely designed language changes that respond to the tastes of local customers.

For example, when addressing the Gen Z audience in Vietnam, transcreation within marketing frequently combines slang and “trendy” wordplay to stay abreast of current trends. 

Transcreation, in particular, boosts brand recognition and fosters customer connections. Customers receive and engage with the brand’s products and services, resulting in an improved return on investment (ROI) and revenues.

The famous fast food brand KFC’s well-known slogan “Finger-lickin’ good” was creatively translated into “Vị ngon trên từng ngón tay” (“Deliciousness on every fingertip”) and has rapidly gained popularity in the Vietnamese market. Compared to the original slogan’s literal meaning, “Vị ngon trên từng ngón tay” conveys an intimate, evocative, and appealing message, tempting consumers to imagine the exquisite flavor of KFC fried chicken, which lingers on “every fingertip.”

Nonetheless, when the KFC brand entered the Chinese market, it suffered a translation mishap as its original slogan was translated into “Eat your fingers off.” This translation raised unneeded controversy since its literal meaning was judged bizarre and seen as potentially disrespectful towards the Chinese people and their culture.

How is a Transcreation Crafted?

Every transcreation results from a meticulous and efficient translation process. This approach ensures that the transcreated message resonates deeply with its target audience. As a creative translation agency, Thao & Co. has refined an optimized transcreation process, which is outlined as follows:

Phase 1: Consultation and Order Processing

Upon receiving the documents requiring transcreation services, the expert team at Thao & Co. begins creating a localization kit aligned with your specific objectives. Subsequently, we proceed with project planning, in-depth consultations, and comprehensive quotations.

Phase 2: Translating

We execute your translation project under Thao & Co.’s standard translation process during this stage. To deliver transcreations that are crafted with precision and care, we conduct extensive research and present various translation options with corresponding back translations and detailed annotations, allowing you to select the version that best aligns with your brand’s specific needs.

Phase 3: Delivery and Evaluation

Once the translation has been proofread carefully, we will promptly deliver the final product to you. Thao & Co. collaborates closely with you to conduct a comprehensive evaluation, ensuring translation quality aligns seamlessly with the target culture, guaranteeing the utmost communication efficiency of the translation project.

What is Creative Translation or Transcreation? - Thao & Co.

As a professional translation agency, Thao & Co. recognizes the importance of transcreation in effectively communicating your brand’s message to potential customers. This is precisely why we introduce our Consumer Language Research© service, tailored to assess the communication effectiveness of a translation.

We undertake two comprehensive Focus Group Discussions (FGD) to investigate and document prevalent language preferences and evaluate the impact of diverse creative translation versions on the intended target audience.

Furthermore, all the information you share with Thao & Co. is paramount for transcreation as it helps ensure that your brand’s essence is consistently presented. This core information encompasses vital aspects such as the brand’s historical background, distinctive identity, target audience, strategic products and services, project timelines, and more, which are all encapsulated within the Creative Brief, which acts as a compass for the “precision and alignment” of project execution.

Thao & Co. is dedicated to offering high-quality, professional, and skilfully crafted creative translations that perfectly complement your brand’s identity.

How do We Assess the Quality of a Transcreation?

The quality of transcreation relies on numerous factors. The following criteria can serve as your reference points:

  1. ● Accurate and thorough conveyance of the original message is the primary imperative of creative translation. Even a minor deviation from the source might reduce the public’s perception of the creative translation.
  2. ● The transcreation may undergo modifications to cater to local cultural nuances and preferences. It remains crucial that such modifications maintain a degree of similarity in style and message with the original content; otherwise, the finished result deviates from a creative translation and becomes a different version.
  3. ● Public response is a pivotal evaluation criterion since it comprises the target audience for transcreation. The audience’s appreciation and acceptance of a translation leads to an increase in the conversion rate of the transcreated content. Consequently, creative translation fulfills its “ultimate objective” of removing the linguistic barrier between the source and target languages.
Thao & Co. professional Translation and Localization Services

Furthermore, selecting a translation service is pivotal to obtaining high-quality and professional creative translations. With extensive experience executing transcreation projects, Thao & Co. consistently provides Creative Translation Services through a team of seasoned expert native linguists.

By partnering with Thao & Co. creative translation agency, you’ll benefit from a finely tuned translation process designed for each project, guaranteeing the creation of resonant translations that leave a powerful impact on your audience.

Please visit for more information, or head over to our Get A Quote page to get in touch today!

Source: Thao & Company
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