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Understanding Transcreation – Part 1

1. Introduction

When brands talk to people all over the world, they face a big challenge: making sure their message is clear and meaningful to everyone. Language is important, but it’s just one part of the whole story. This is where transcreation comes in. It’s like an art where you change content to really connect with people, not just with words but by understanding their culture too.

Think of transcreation as more than just changing words from one language to another. It’s about mixing in the culture, feelings, and goals of the message. It’s like how a translator sticks to the original text, but transcreation changes the message to fit the culture and way of thinking of different people. It’s like a musician changing their tune to fit the style of the place they’re in.

We’re going to talk more about how translation and transcreation are different. We’ll see why transcreation is so important for making sure creative messages are understood and appreciated everywhere, no matter where in the world they are.

2. The Importance of Cultural Context in Creative Content

When we talk to people from all over the world, we need to remember that every culture has its own special signs, stories, and ways of thinking. If we just translate the words but not the meaning behind them, we might miss something important. It’s like when you hear a song in a language you don’t know. You enjoy the tune, but you can’t feel the real meaning of the words.

Let’s think about jokes. A joke that makes people laugh in one country might not be funny or could even be rude in another country. This happens because people in different places think and feel differently about things. It’s the same with colors and signs. For example, in many Western countries, the color white is seen as pure and peaceful. But in some Eastern countries, white is a color for mourning.

All these little differences show why it’s important to understand culture when we create and share things. We need to do more than just make sure people understand our words. We need to connect with their hearts. We need to make sure they feel included, respected, and important. When businesses understand and respect these cultural differences, they can really connect with people. This helps build trust and loyalty.

3. What is Transcreation?

Transcreation is a mix of “translation” and “creation.” It’s not just about changing words from one language to another. Transcreation goes deeper. It keeps the heart, feelings, and main ideas the same even when the language changes. It’s all about understanding and respecting different cultures to make sure the message fits well with the people who are hearing or reading it.

Think about a storyteller. The main story stays the same, but the way they tell it changes depending on who is listening. They might change little parts of the story or the way they tell it to make it more interesting for their audience. Transcreation is like that. It keeps the main message the same but changes how it’s shared to really connect with people.

Transcreation also looks at everything around the words, like pictures and the way things sound. For example, an advertisement might use different pictures, or a catchy phrase might be changed to make more sense in another language. The goal is always to be true and real to the audience. Transcreation doesn’t just share information; it makes a real connection, helping businesses and people around the world understand each other better.

4. The Transcreation Process: Balancing Authenticity and Relevance

Transcreation is all about finding the perfect balance. It’s like a dance. You have to keep the original message of the content steady and true while also making it fit with the culture and feelings of the people you want to reach.

First, the people doing the translation really get to know the original content. They look into every word and feeling behind it. This helps them understand not just what is being said, but also how and why it’s being said. Then, they start changing things, not just the words, but also how those words feel. They make sure everything matches up with what the new audience thinks and believes.

A big part of transcreation is working with experts who really know the culture. These experts give feedback and help fine-tune everything so that it sounds just right. This teamwork makes sure that the content stays true to its original meaning while also making sense in the new culture.

In the end, what you get is something special. The content is familiar but also new and exciting. It talks to people’s hearts and minds. It shows that a brand isn’t just trying to reach the world, but it’s also trying to understand and value people from different places. This careful process helps brands connect with people all over the world in a deeper, more meaningful way, not just ‘going global’; they ‘grow globally’, fostering deeper, more meaningful connections worldwide.

5. The Challenges and Triumphs of Transcreation

Transcreation can be a big win for brands talking to a global audience, but it’s not always easy. It’s like walking on a tightrope. You have to keep the real meaning of the message while making sure it fits right into a different culture. Even a small mistake can cause big misunderstandings or hurt feelings, which is not good for a brand’s image.

One of the tough parts of transcreation is dealing with how different every culture is. Even in one country, people might speak in different ways, have different traditions, or see the world differently. Plus, what people think and like can change over time. So, brands need to be quick to adapt and change their approach. A great example of this is Spider Man India, where most of the cultural cues of the familiar US comic book were adapted to reflect Indian culture. The comic book was originally released in India in 2004, then in a limited run in English in 2005. With the recent popularity of the “Spiderverse” plans have been announced for the characters introduction into the broader franchise. 

When transcreation is done well, though, it’s amazing. It can turn an ordinary message into something that people really feel and connect with. When a brand gets its message right in a way that respects and understands different cultures, people pay attention. They become fans, not just customers, because they feel that the brand really gets them. 

Let’s Transcreate!

Read part 2 to learn about the challenges of transcreation, see how global companies have approached localization for decades, bust a few myths, and discuss the ethics of transcreation. Until then, if you are looking for a partner for document translation, localization, and transcreation, request a quote today.