If your project involves highly creative content, then the standard approach to translation may not be enough to get the results you need in each target language. Sometimes, a more creative approach to translation is needed, in order to prioritise the desired local receipt of the intended message that cannot be made possible with word-for-word translation. In this article, we explain why a creative translation is important and the key things you need to know about this particular creative language service.
What is creative translation?
Creative translation refers to a specialist set of language services designed to overcome the challenges of translating creative messaging. In general, the more creative the original message is, the higher of a chance it has of getting lost in direct translation because creative language inherently deviates from standard meaning and usage.
This happens a lot with metaphors that use phrasing to describe objects or ideas through non-literal descriptions. For example, the English expression, “I wash my hands of you” is used to suggest that someone is no longer willing to take responsibility for someone else or have any interest in them.
Now, in Spanish, the phrase “Lavarse las manos” (to wash one’s hands) takes on a different meaning as a metaphor, which can easily be confused with its literal English word-for-word equivalent. The symbolic meaning of this Spanish metaphor describes the avoidance of taking responsibility. This would be similar to the English metaphor “to pass the bucket”, rather than the idea of abandoning interest in someone.
This is where the importance of creative translation comes in, to carefully analyse the intended meaning of the original message and ensure this carries over into each target language. Even if the exact wording doesn’t match the literal translation.
This is crucial for content that is creative by nature, such as: marketing messages; brand slogans; literary works and any other project where the use of creative language is used to evoke a specific mood or inspire a targeted response from audiences.
As a result, marketing and advertising campaigns are some of the most common projects that require creative translation.
9 things you need to know about creative translation
Translating and adapting creative messages into multiple languages is a challenge! So, it is important to understand what you might come across during the creative translation process.
Here are nine things you need to know about creative translation to achieve the best results:
- Creative language gets lost in translation: Experimenting with the literal meaning of words, phrases and ideas, the intended meaning of creative language is often lost through standard translation.
- The more creative, the bigger the challenge: The more creative language used in the original content, the more challenging the translation process becomes – but the most important element to overcome these challenges is creative translation.
- Shorter messages can be the hardest to translate: Short and highly creative messages like: slogans; advertising punch lines; CTAs; headings and product benefits, can be some of the most difficult of texts to translate.
- Audience reception is the priority: With creative translation, the priority is to achieve the desired reception with each language audience, and not translate the message word-for-word.
- The original message may change: The beauty of creative translation is that it has the freedom to adapt the original message to achieve its desired response. For example, using an alternative metaphor or symbol that is more relevant to the target audience.
- Language & cultural backgrounds matter: The associated meanings of metaphors, symbols and other creative devices is heavily influenced by peoples’ language and cultural backgrounds. For example, the colour red represents danger in some cultures and good luck/fortune in others.
- Words aren’t all that matter: Creative translation may also require adaptations of visual and audio elements for certain content types, most notably video.
- Creative translation is difficult: Compared to more traditional projects, creative translation is more challenging, takes longer and can cost more.
- Early planning pays off: The best thing to do in order to make creative translation easier, faster and more cost-effective, is to plan the translation project stages as early as possible.
Creative translation is one of the most challenging language services, but it is also one of the most important for brands that want to truly connect with audiences from multiple language backgrounds.
When an advertising message is lost through standard translation, campaigns will fall flat on their faces. The best brands that understand how important the response of each target audience is, are the ones that recognise the value of creative translation, because they see the results it can generate.
This is the kind of service that drives the international success of global brands like Ferrari and Coca-Cola. We have also previously looked at examples of how some of the world’s biggest brands use creative translation to crack international markets.
If you’re ready to start doing the same, please get in touch with our creative language services team by filling out the form on our contact page, to discuss your next marketing campaigns.