Going global with taglines or slogans? Turn to transcreation

social mediaConsider the following well-known taglines: Just do it. I’m lovin’ it. Because you’re worth it.

Now what do you think each of those marketing concepts would translate into for Chinese, Spanish or Russian? Not precisely the same, we can assure you of that. While your tagline may have a big impact in your home market, the essential concept may need to be adapted to fit your target market’s cultural expectations.

We don’t have to tell you how important your company’s tagline is . . . but how can you be sure that it will be a global success? The answer is through a process called transcreation.

There are a few things you need to know so that your tagline connects with the right audience in the right way in every language. So let’s dive in.

First, what is transcreation and why might you need it?

Transcreation is a process of developing or recreating content while maintaining brand consistency and honoring the cultural norms of your target market. Think of it as a mix of “translation” and “creation.” Rather than simply translating word for word, transcreation is taken a step further to focus more on the emotional message conveyed to viewers. In other words, it is actually recreating an idea or brand message into another language—and in accordance with the different culture.

Many companies today have little idea about what is actually involved in transcreation. In fact, according to a survey done by Common Sense Advisory, very few customers request transcreation by name but instead ask about “marketing content,” “marketing translation,” “cultural adaption” and “multilingual copywriting.” While the terms make sense, is it important to understand that what you require is more than just translation.

Think of the two terms as fraternal twins: related processes, but not identical. Translation is thought to be more word-for-word while still taking into account vocabulary, grammar and local usage. But transcreation is usually for truly creative pieces. It’s taken a step further to focus more on the emotional message conveyed to viewers with the intention to completely recreate it so it appears written in the native tongue.

As you might imagine, merely translating your tagline in a foreign language won’t cut it. Doing this could have drastic consequences: your tagline and essential brand message could totally miss the mark in your target markets. Instead, you need to view your tagline holistically: How should its concept, idea, emotion or message be adapted in order to resonate with a foreign country and culture? That’s what transcreation takes into account.

Don’t let your tagline fall on deaf ears

As new markets continue to emerge and companies go global, marketers face special challenges. To avoid potential pitfalls most companies have found ways to transcend language and cultural barriers and demonstrate immense knowledge of local heritage, values and beliefs. But this hasn’t always been the case.

There are many stories on companies’ translation blunders leading to downright embarrassment and/or product failure in an international market. For example, Pepsi attempted to translate its slogan “Come alive: You’re in the Pepsi generation” for the Chinese market. The actual translation was “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.” Or how about Coors Brewing Company losing a lot of fizz in Spain when they incorrectly translated their slogan “Turn it loose” into Spanish as “Suffer from diarrhea.”

On the other hand, some companies have already got it right. McDonald’s took the right approach by keeping the English version of “I’m lovin’ it” for some markets; however, in Spanish it was rendered to “me encanta,” meaning “I really like it,” as the phrase is more culturally appropriate. It was also recreated in Chinese to literally mean “I just like (it),” acknowledging the fact that traditionally for the Chinese the word “love” is never said aloud.

What to expect with transcreation: Process and resources

By now you should know creating a global tagline isn’t as simple as looking up a few words in a translation dictionary. To make sure you are treating your global tagline with the same seriousness as the slogan in your home country, it is extremely important to understand what is involved in the transcreation process.

Since transcreation is considered a specialized service, it requires different resources and workflow, meaning your company may have a different business strategy for tackling this type of work. The most efficient solution is working with an experienced translation vendor like Indopak who has a proven track record of high-quality transcreation work in your target language.

The work is typically performed by a seasoned linguist who specializes in transcreation and has marketing and copywriting expertise. The assigned linguists must also have a deep working knowledge of the target market and the ability to creatively adapt content for that particular market.

Assigned linguists will work closely with you to identify the correct message and then carry that over into your target languages. With your brand and tagline’s intention in mind, linguists will figure out the best way to adapt it while considering in-country sensitivities such as customs, regulations and cultural differences. Due to the linguists’ elaborate research and review process, you should expect a slightly longer turnaround time.

Transcreation could be one of the smartest business decisions you make. While the cost may be more than the traditional translate-edit-proof process, the investment is well worth it considering the potential return on investment. After all, nothing is more important than your company’s essential message and brand.

Have questions about transcreation? If so, drop them here and we will make sure we answer them for you!

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