The meaning and use of transcreation

The term transcreation is a combination of “translation” and “recreation”. It is a special form or area of translation used in marketing. In contrast to classical translation, the cultural background and the specific requirements of the target country/culture must be considered to a much greater extent.

It is not only a question of conveying the content correctly in terms of linguistic aspects and translating sentence by sentence, but it is rather a matter of presenting the messages and emotions in a way that is appropriate for the target market and the target group.

This means that translators have to be much more creative, rewriting the text and basically recreating the content in the other language and thus also acting as copywriters (content writers).

Typical texts that require transcreation include website content, brochures, slogans, movie titles, advertising materials, print, radio and TV commercials, idioms, etc.

Examples for transcreation

An example of a slogan that is very different in English and German was created by Deutsche Bank. A few years ago, they used “Passion to perform” in English while the German slogan is “Leistung aus Leidenschaft” (in English literally “Performance through passion”). A literal translation would sound artificial and not understandable to a native English speaker. An incorrectly translated advertising slogan not only has an alienating and confusing effect but will not be successful at all. Especially in marketing, finding the right words and an appropriate formulation of content is essential for the success of a product.

Another example is Fressnapf, a pet supply company founded in Germany. In Ireland, it even has a different name (Maxi Zoo instead of the literal translation which would be Feeding Bowl). The German slogan “Was Tiere lieben” (In English literally “What animals love”) has been creatively translated into “Makes pets happy” (In German literally “Macht Haustiere glücklich”). This way, the English-speaking Irish target group is appropriately addressed and the emotion and message of the slogan are transferred accordingly.

Conclusion

Transcreation is an effective linguistic tool to elegantly overcome cultural barriers. A company can thus convey its message equally successfully in different countries and offer the same product in completely different cultural environments.