Global marketing: Is your message getting lost in translation?


With your audiences spread across the globe, it is increasingly challenging to communicate in ways that resonate in different cultures. All your messages need to be adapted to the local market so that your customers can connect and engage with your brand.

The most obvious choice when entering global markets is to translate all your marketing content. This may sound easy, but taking one message and simply translating it to a different language is often not enough. Different cultures can have different perceptions on words, expressions and even images. This is where transcreation comes into the picture.

Transcreation takes your global communication to the next level, maintaining the integrity of your message and a consistent voice, while adjusting the content to the specificities of each market. Let’s take a look at the differences between translation and transcreation and see what each one entails.


Word-based vs concept-based


Translation is the process of taking a piece of text and converting it into a different language, focusing on the words used and ensuring the translation sticks as close as possible to the original copy.

Transcreation goes a step further, focusing on the general concept and the intended emotional connection. It means taking a piece of text, keeping its original sentiment, while adapting and stylizing all things that could be lost in translation, such as cultural references and tone.


Not all content is created equal


If you are looking at purely informational messages that do not need cultural context and won’t be subjective to any misinterpretations, then translation is the best choice. For example, when you are adapting content like technical brochures, the focus is factual and technical accuracy using a smooth readable style. There is less need for cultural context adjustment.


When you want to convey a message with more feeling, like marketing and advertising geared messages, then you need to consider transcreation. It aims to replicate the emotion the message evokes in your audience, without being a simple word for word translation. The focus is not on technical accuracy, but more on adapting your message while preserving its intent.  The approach is creative with importance on your audience engagement and the campaign conversion goals.


Finding your brand's personality and tone


Transcreation ensures the copy reads as if it is authored in that language and the message gets across effectively. It is useful when you are looking at a more subjective piece of text, like a slogan or sales messaging, that won’t make much sense if you just translate it.

As an example, the persona voice used in the USA is much more personal and conversational than speaking to a customer in Germany. Applying transcreation to your marketing materials will improve resonance and results, tailoring the language and style to your German audience.

Another example is humor, sometimes used in slogans or ads. If simply translated, it won’t make sense in other cultures and might even be considered offensive. With transcreation you can adapt your pun or rhyme, transmitting the same feeling and getting the same reaction out of your audience.


What’s the best choice for your global marketing?


It depends. If all you want is the adaptation of factual texts, like technical content, translation is the way to go.

If you are looking to really personalize your message, transcreation is your best choice, as it will make your users feel you wrote that content with their market in mind.