Manisha Talagala

Manisha is a professional and detail-oriented Community Manager with a huge passion for the digital world. She has a diverse background working for two London-based publishers as Web Editor and Sales Manager, then as Content Writer and Social Media Assistant at an award-winning London jewellery company. She loves writing for the web and engaging with people, plus she never misses new trends on Social Media.

Transcreation: The Happy Marriage Between Linguists And Marketers 

You’re up against it. The boss can’t understand why you haven’t broken the overseas market yet. What’s going wrong? All the content is translated for local audiences; they should be loving it, right? Still the walls and the cultural barriers remain firmly fixed in place. What’s going wrong?


The problem is the literal translation of the text. It’s not enough to simply re-write verbatim the content – you have to make it fit.


Imagine for a moment that you’re about to go on stage in Thailand. An Englishman and an Italian both come backstage. The first tells you to break a leg whilst the second starts twittering about the mouth of wolves. Both have wished you, in their own ways, good luck. Without a proper cultural understanding however, you wouldn’t know it.


That’s the power of transcreation – where “translation” meets “creation”.


It’s an artform really; a way of making your content culturally relevant and sensitive to colloquial users around the world. It makes content adaptive, considering style, tone and hidden meaning. It optimises creators’ ability to lock-in with regional tastes – enhancing UX and widening scope for engagement so that people really get what you’re trying to say.


From changing colours to be more suitable for specific cultural tastes, to tailoring colloquialisms and idioms in ways that make them more geographically appropriate, transcreation is an involved and highly skilled process. Done right, it makes a BIG difference.


Where Did It Come From?


How transcreation came from translation


Despite it’s conceptual roots in India in the second half of the 20th Century, as a response to barriers to understanding in popular entertainment, the term “transcreation” didn’t enter the mouths of marketers until the early ‘90s.

But why then? Good question. The early ‘90s saw an explosion in foreign trade – in part a result of the birth of an interconnected trading floor after the fall of Communism in ‘89 – and with it came a whole lot of advertising abroad…

The new global marketplace brought with it a need to be sympathetic to and respectful of cultural nuances and language differences. When transcreation wasn’t done properly or at all, it could be embarrassing.

As an example, take the case of KFC’s China campaign. Next to the smiling, beardy face of the Colonel, it didn’t read “Finger Licking Good”. Oh no. Instead, the slogan was rather hastily translated as “Eat Your Fingers Off”, leaving more than a few puzzled as to where the chicken came in…

Today, the possibilities of transcreation are endless, with creators and marketers employing newer technologies, AI capabilities, gaming softwares and a diversity of new content forms in order to fully optimise UX with brands across site and app channels.


Where Has It Worked And Where Has It Not?


Examples of transcreation that have worked effectively


So does it really work? Absolutely it does.

Some of the biggest brands in the world have employed transcreation to fantastical effect – re-tuning their brands to suit the intricacies of local tastes and, in so doing, reaping huge rewards in terms of growth on engagement and ROI.

To help give you a clearer picture, we’ve outlined some of the best examples of transcreation in practice below. Enjoy!


Making The Happy World Of Haribo Global


Gummy bears, chewy rings and strawbs. They might seem to have universal appeal already, right, but getting word out across countries can be tricky…

Take the German company’s domestic slogan, for instance: “Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso”. This literally translates to something along the lines of the rather dull English: “Haribo makes kids happy and adults too”.

Now, with a normal translation, we’d stop there. The transcreation professionals working with Haribo’s marketing team however had different ideas.

They instead took the essence of the original slogan and modified it to meet the slightly more enthusiastic and playful context of the English-speaking market. They settled on “Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo”.

The sing-song quality worked.

Along with sentiments like “love”, that sometimes seem too intense for European countries such as Germany and Spain, the musical motto was music to the ears of English audiences.

As well as spiking engagement with the brand and improving UX, the musical move also enhanced customer satisfaction across site and socials advertisements too.

Not bad!


A Golden Idea From Redbull


Just getting wings isn’t enough for everybody.

When RedBull decided to break into the Asian market, they had somewhat of a challenge on their hands. The hyper-productive, adrenaline-seeking, jet-fuel-for-people image that the brand usually advertised with silver and blue needed a makeoever in order to do well in China.

The transcreating team had an idea. What if they were to employ a new colour-scheme, one that worked in tandem with cultural ideas in China pertaining to wealth, prosperity, good luck and esteem.

What the team settled on was a two-fold dramatic re-branding ahead of the debut in China, and one that transcreators love to tout as one fantastic example of the service’s intrinsic successes.

First, the company altered their famous formula to a non-carbonated recipe that would work better with local tastes.

Secondly, the team gave the distinctive cans a new look – colouring them red and gold, colours that hold deeply significant meanings for Chinese audiences, signalling good fortune, riches and joy – meanings that happened also to chime perfectly with the RedBull brand image.

In short, transcreation here facilitated huge improvements to user engagement with the brand by making the product culturally attractive to local audiences.


Intel In Love With The Future


Intel computers really lived up to their own slogan when they successfully employed transcreation when debuting in Brazil.

Their catchy American slogan: “Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow” wasn’t quite going to sit with Portuguese-speakers in the South American country.

For them, a non-transcreated translation of the slogan instead indicated to locals that the company was effectively going to fail to live up to everything they promised audiences. Uh Oh, now that wasn’t going to do.

Thank goodness they looked to the transcreators.

Acknowledging cultural nuance and colloquial language practices, the company opted for the new slogan in Brazil: “Intel: In Love With The Future”. Asides from just sounding nicer to users abroad, the slogan also inspired more confidence and improved customer satisfaction.

If that’s not enough to make you ‘In Love With Transcreation’, we’re not sure what is!

Is It For You? 

So, should you think about transcreation when breaking into markets overseas? Depends

Do you think it’s important to be culturally sensitive, conceptually bold, and with a finger on the pulse of local audiences?

Perhaps you think that being understood on a level deeper than language goes – to really get the subtext, the emotion, the feeling of your voice across – is important?

If you’re nodding at your screen right now, you’d be completely correct.


Want To Know More? Get In Touch Now To See How We Can Help! 


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