It’s easy to find examples of poor transcreation and marketing translation online. International brands are responsible for some of the most famous (and sometimes funny) transcreation mishaps.
While the horror stories are great to learn from, we also need to take inspiration from good examples of transcreation. So let’s look at some brands that hit the mark with their international marketing campaigns thanks to excellent transcreation.
Transcreation is a specialist language service designed to overcome the challenges of translating copywriting, advertising and marketing messages.
Due to the use of highly creative language in the messages, the meaning is typically lost in direct translation. Transcreation focuses on the intended meaning of the messages and the emotional response you want to trigger in your audience.
This is prioritised over translating the original message with precise accuracy.
“Transcreation is the combination of translation and copywriting for the purpose of translating marketing, sales and advertising messages into other languages. With this type of messaging, the intended impact and meaning of the original content are often lost in translation due to the amount of creative language and cultural references they rely upon.”
– From our ‘Transcreation Services: Why & When You Need Them’ article.
Transcreation is often referred to as creative translation because the service often creates entirely new messages in target languages. The easiest way to understand this is by looking at some examples, so let’s look at some instances of quality transcreation in action.
Coca-Cola is one of the great champions in transcreation. The brand has truly conquered the world with campaigns that feel native to audiences around the world. If we look at the homepage from its websites for the UK, Spain and South Korea, this is what we get:
For the UK and Spain, the company is running the same campaign, featuring Marvel-themed cans. The English slogan for the campaign reads “The multiverse awaits” and there are several direct translations into Spanish that work for this.
However, the direct translation loses its power in Spanish, so the company has opted for a different slogan that has more impact in Spanish. “Sumérgete en otro universo” translates as “submerge yourself in another universe” and this sounds just as awkward in English as the direct translation for “The multiverse awaits” in Spanish.
Then, you’ve got the homepage for South Korea, which runs a completely different message celebrating the lunar new year – a major holiday in the country. With 2023 being the year of the rabbit, the copy reads: “Coca-Cola 2023 Real Magic, Happy New Year – Hop Like a Rabbit!”.
A good slogan is almost impossible to translate due to the depth of meaning and emotion that’s packed into a few short words. Apple excels at specifying the emotions it wants to elicit with its product slogans and tweaking them in the translation process with transcreation.
For the iPhone 14 Pro, the company wants people to feel this is the model for serious professionals.
For the English version of its campaigns, Apple runs with “Pro. Beyond.”. Now, in this case, translating the English slogan into Spanish doesn’t even work grammatically. Instead, the company has switched to “Pro. Muy Pro.” which translates directly as “Pro. Very Pro.”
In fact, the Cantonese version for Hong Kong is closer to the English original, translated directly as “Beyond. Super Pro.”
Nike had to work hard to build its brand in China, and after many years of experimentation, it learned a valuable transcreation lesson. Sometimes, the most effective way to transcreate your message is to not translate it at all.
The company’s iconic “Just Do It” slogan encompasses so much meaning that it is almost impossible to translate. Yes, the company could transcribe the slogan but, then, it loses the iconic message that helped make it a global hit in the first place.
So, instead, the company ran with the English version in China with localised and transcreated marketing campaigns around it. Instead of translating the slogan, it recreated the meaning around it in Chinese – so now, the English version of the slogan is understood across the country.
If you want to make a true emotional impact with your international marketing campaigns, across each target market, what you need to succeed is working transcreation into your marketing translation strategy.
As part of one of the largest advertising networks in the world, we are experts in the fields of transcreation and creative localisation, working regularly with many well-known companies and brands to help them transcreate their marketing and advertising messages. To discuss your next campaign and transcreation services, please submit your request via our contact page, and one of our creative language specialists will get back to you.