When Transcreation Could Have Saved the Marketing Campaign
Translation, localisation and transcreation are common terms within the translation industry. Language Service Providers (LSPs) know the differences between their service offerings but may not know the specific goals and requirements of your campaign. Therefore, it is critical that international marketers request the most appropriate service when sending marketing content to an agency “to be translated”.
Understanding the nuanced terminology associated with the translation industry isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Therefore, here is what you need to know and why it matters for your global marketing campaign.
Translation is when content is directly deciphered word for word from one language into another language. There is little concern for the nuanced meanings behind the individual words, phrases and concepts being conveyed.
Localisation is when the translation is taken a step further and the nuanced meanings of the words are taken into account. This is especially important for dialects and cultural differences between countries that speak the same root language.
Storge – empathy bond.
Philia – friend bond.
Eros – erotic bond.
Agape – unconditional “God” love.
To do a 1:1 translation of the word might result in the wrong type of love being referred to in a document. Imagine a greeting card company using an inappropriate term for a sympathy versus anniversary card. It’s times like this when localisation becomes rather important.
Transcreation is when the source materials are revised in such a manner that they are seamlessly received by the intended audience in the target language. The process of transcreation not only ensures correct terminology, but also many other factors, in order to ensure the goals of the communication are met.
Specifically, the following are taken into account: History, culture, design, images, colour meanings, metaphoric references, colloquial, vernacular and idiomatic expressions of the audience.
It is important to think about and address unique references that are common for the original audience, but which may not be understood by the receiving audience.
For example, a common phrase in Northern climates is “white as snow”. However, for those living in a climate closer to the equator who have only seen snow on TV, this concept might not have the same impact as it does where freshly fallen snow is fairly common. In those climates, it might make more sense to say, “white as milk”. But what do you do if all of your materials have images of snow? And if snow is referenced in many other ways in your materials? Those all need to be changed and adapted, not just to reference milk, but also to reflect the people you are trying to reach. You also don’t want to put pictures of cows or goats being milked if the people drink coconut milk the majority of the time. THAT is transcreation.
What happens if you don’t properly transcreate your materials?
Well-known examples like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) encouraging their new Chinese customers to “eat their fingers off” didn’t help their market penetration goals. Because their slogan “finger-lickin’ good” wasn’t contextually translated, there were embarrassing unintended consequences.
Or there is the instance when the American Dairy Association sent their “Got Milk?” campaign to Spanish-speaking countries, where it was translated to “Are you Lactating?” We suspect that the male market didn’t really appreciate or relate to that campaign and women may have been offended. A proper professional translation would have mitigated the problems with the first two examples.
Unfortunately, even excellent translation would not have helped Gerber launch its baby food in Africa. Gerber didn’t realise that in many African countries, such as Ethiopia, many people can’t read. Therefore, product labels typically have pictures of what is inside the product. They didn’t even think to change the product packaging and left the picture of the cute baby on the label!
In this case, not only did the labels need to be translated and localised, they also needed to be transcreated with proper images in order to succeed in the African market. There certainly weren’t any consumers looking to buy a baby in a tiny jar. That obviously was not the intended marketing message!
In short, professional translated content sometimes needs further localisation to achieve the intended communication goals. Likewise, a document that has undergone excellent localisation may still need transcreation to provide a final deliverable that is received in the same manner in which it was originally written. The complexity of your content and differences in original and target audiences need to be taken into consideration when choosing the services that are most appropriate for your project.
Your carefully designed product deserves a marketing campaign that will ensure a positive reception by the target audience. Don’t let your entry into new international markets become as iconic as some of the mistakes mentioned above.
Contact us to find out how we can properly localise or fully transcreate your marketing materials for your maximum success.