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What is transcreation?

In the ever-expanding landscape of global marketing, transcreation stands as an important tool for businesses that goes far beyond translation. 

Transcreation is used to transfer not only the meaning but also the emotion and essence of the brand, in doing so it uses different words, and looks for cultural differences. It is about crafting content that resonates with local audiences. 

For example, in the fast food business, you want to talk to the customer’s sense of taste and provoke it. This is done through compelling copies that deliver the taste instead of just describing the product. You’d be surprised how customers from different countries talk about food! 

Therefore, to appeal to each culture, the brand needs to talk in their expressions. In English, the words ‘Fizz’ or ‘gurgle’ are used for soft drinks. In the MENA, the substitute for these are things like (منعش-refreshing).

There is a lot to be said about transcreation. In this article, we’ll explore what transcreation is, its examples, and its benefits for businesses. 

What is transcreation?

Translation & Creation, how so?

It is the creative translation of marketing material, such as slogans and advertisements, from one language to another to carry the emotional or sensual effect of the original text.

Transcreation combines translation, creation, and copywriting among other things with the goal of adapting the content to appeal to the different cultural contexts. 

Consequently, with transcreation, it is expected that the target translation differs a lot from the source one. It is a process of reimagining, and consistently adapting content.


Successful transcreation requires a deep understanding of both the source and target cultures, as well as clear communication between the transcreator and the client to ensure that the final product aligns with the brand’s messaging and objectives. Achieving cultural relevance, without losing the desired emotional outcome, is the goal of transcreation. It mirrors the intent of the source text but is not simply the same text translated into a different language.


Examples of transcreation

Black and white Friday

One famous example of transcreation in Europe and the US, versus Middle Eastern countries is the Black Friday season. 

The discount season in the US known as Black Friday happens to be White Friday in the MENA. This simple changing of the color White is out of respect to the culture of Muslim countries since the day Friday has a strong religious connotation. It is the day when Muslims go to afternoon prayer at the mosque, and it has many positive religious aspects to it. The color black is often used for negative connotations in the MENA, unlike white which is associated with light, angels, goodness, peace, etc. 

Imagine how one word can make such a huge difference, that’s exactly the power of transcreation. 


Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” campaign 

In 2011, everybody- especially young adults- was buying Coca-Cola bottles with their names on them. In the US and Australia the names on the bottles were something like Tom, Ben, Kylie, Michelle, and hundreds of other most popular names of young adults of the younger generation.  

However, In a country like Egypt, the names were completely appropriated to the Egyptian people with a variety that encompasses names of older and younger generations like Mohamed, Omar, Salma, Mariam..etc.

The examples are plenty. 

You can check this article by East Media written about the transcreation of Red Bull in China, and how colors affect advertising in China.

The energy drink company made a smart move by changing the colors of their cans in China to yellow, red, and black which translates to good fortune in the Chinese culture. 


Transcreation in Film

Aside from the marketing world, transcreation has a special and exciting place in the film industry. It could mean changing character names, settings, or even the film title to suit the audience. 

One personal experience with transcreation in film was with the film Bush Mama 1979. It’s about African American people’s never-ending psychological, physical, and material struggles and marginalization in the US. 

Firstly, the film was translated into the Palestinian dialect, not standard Arabic like most films in Egyptian theatres. 

So many words were translated to entirely different meanings in Palestinian, with the effect of making parallels between the struggle of the characters in the film, and the struggle of the Palestinian people.

For example: words like Police or Cops were translated to ‘colonizers, or zionists’


Why Use Transcreation for Your Websit

For businesses now, websites are the substitute for physical on-site presence. They are the online presence that matters, in our digital world. 

For this reason, website transcreation is pivotal since it attracts visitors from different parts of the world, they speak different languages, in a diversity of cultural contexts. A website for the United States can differ a lot in design and content from a website dedicated to Saudi Arabian customers.

Transcreation in websites involves optimizing them for the right keywords: 

-Transcreating headlines, slogans, and other copies. 

-To be consistent with brand image, tone of voice, and emotions. 

-Being careful with culturally sensitive elements (expressions, idioms, colors, and cultural references)


Where is transcreation used?

Transaction is mostly used in marketing, and You’d be surprised at how many domains depend on transcreation services. 


Video Games

Video game transcription is such an exciting and complex process. It involves changing many things in game narratives like character names, dialogue, names of the props..etc. All to ensure an entertaining and inclusive experience for the gamers. 


Websites (landing pages)

As previously mentioned above, websites are one popular type of transcreation. A website targeted to an international audience should have its content optimized to make the right impression on the customer and encourage them to make the choice of purchasing from your business.

Read more: Website Localization for Global Expansion


Mobile Applications

Similar to websites, mobile applications are crucial landing points for potential customers. At first glance, it might be tempting to rely on a fast and cost-effective machine translation for the app, however, machine translation is not optimal when you translate cultural contexts.  

Readmore: What is Software Internationalization? 


Advertisements and Ad Copies

When launching a new business or product in the market, well-written advertising can save you lots of trouble. The examples where big brands have failed terribly at their advertising campaigns are plenty, and many of them showcase weak contextualization, which could have been avoided with transcreation and localization services.


Films and Audiovisual content

In our globalized world, visual content like Film or TV Shows is no longer restricted to one audience. Thanks to online streaming services like Shahid or Netflix, visual content is made accessible worldwide. 

Consequently, transcreation steps in to make this accessibility error-free, and suitable for a multitude of audiences.


The importance and Benefits of transcreation 

Cultural Appropriation 

Brands expanding their business globally need to be sensitive to the cultures they’re targeting. This urges them to do extensive market research to understand their target customers, preferences, and socio-economic contexts. After research, transcreation is implemented through a close collaboration between transcreators, marketers, and business owners to make sure the brand image is sustained while managing to address the audience correctly.

In doing so, brands delve into new markets to quickly gain trust of the customers. 


Delivering Brand Image and Identity

Since all languages are different, the way you present your brand in one copy or slogan is certainly going to be different from presenting it in another language. Many businesses now are transcreating their slogans to carry the same effect to different countries. 

Mistranslating slogans across the history of marketing has resulted in laughter, as in the famous case of the KFC slogan ‘Finger Lickin Good’ that was translated into Mandarin Chinese as ‘eat your fingers off’

A good transcreation example that reflects the brand image is Nike’s ‘Just do it’, which was transcreated in Japan as “Ganbaru,” which means to persist or to do one’s best. 



Consequently, with all the transcreation efforts, customers will be attracted to the brand that is most relevant, and familiar that resonates with their needs and values. In many direct and indirect ways, transcreation attracts more customers, and increases revenue.


Transcreation vs localization: what’s the difference?

At this point, transcreation sounds quite similar to localization, right?

It’s true that both of them have things in common, yet we can draw some differences to set both processes apart from each other.

Transcreation: The creative process that combines translation and creation of content with the goal of resonating with the target audience. Transcreators work with the marketing team, content writers, and copywriters.

Localization: In essence, localization also concerns itself with adapting content to resonate with different audiences who live in other countries in the world, and speak different languages. It concerns itself with UI technicalities like currencies, product measurements, date, and number formats. 

It is not only written content that localizers work with, they also give feedback on product design, whether or not it suits that target audience.


Fast-trans Transcreation services 

Fast Trans prides itself on being one of the leading translation companies in transcreation and localization services

Over the years, we have handled big and ambitious clients like EMAAR, ZED International, ACT, Orascom development, and Etisalat, who have wide presence in the market for decades. Our team is highly skilled in handling a wide array of translation services, delivering impeccable quality at a competitive price!

Fast Trans provides certified transcreation or creative translation in more than 215 languages. We strive to help you unlock the potential of your global audience.

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