Transcreation allows creative campaigns to travel around the world
How do you ensure that an idea born in one market will be welcomed right around the world?
In today’s global market more and more brands are seeking to communicate with audiences in different cultures.
So, how can any brand ensure that their campaign is delivered well in different countries first time?
What is Transcreation?
Simply put, Transcreation is the process of localizing advertising material. The term ‘localization’ will often connect immediately to the concept of translation, but true localization is so much more than that.
It involves analyzing the essential meaning of an execution or campaign, assessing its relevance for a target market and producing a version accordingly.
The result of successful Transcreation will meet branding requirements at a fundamental level, but be tailored specifically for the target market.
As a comparison, translation is appropriate for any context where the aim is to communicate lots of information simply and clearly, such as technical manuals, brochures etc.
A problem arises when this approach is applied to sharp, punchy headline copy or dramatic and engaging TVC scripts. Such copy contains information that needs to be communicated, yes, but the most important objective is emotional engagement with the consumer.
As we all know, a huge part of this engagement stems from all the subtext and nuance that sit between and behind the words, and from the imagery that accompanies them.
These in turn will generally be dictated by various cultural tropes and references. It is this bed of cultural familiarity that draws the consumer in; that hooks their subconscious. It is the very thing that is in danger of evaporating if creative material is ‘translated’.
How does it work?
Transcreation involves breaking an execution down, analyzing it and then re-assembling it to resonate with the desired audience.
1. What is the big idea
The first step is identifying the idea that sits at the heart of the execution or campaign; the nucleus of a concept that makes the execution what it is, and from which all else originates.
It’s like peeling an onion. You tear away the layers of wrapping until you expose the core message:
- What is the actual point of this?
- Why does this execution or campaign exist?
- What is its purpose?
- What response is it meant to elicit, and from whom?
2. Time to make it local
Once you have found this ‘Why’, the next step is to make sure it is relevant for the market. It’s simply a case of figuring out how best to communicate it based on knowledge of the target audience.
This process of isolating the glowing ember of an idea then finding an appropriate way to communicate it to a specific audience should sound familiar.
It’s pretty much exactly the same as the one applied in creating the original work. It’s the reason why Transcreation needs to be handled by a copywriter, rather than a translator.
Whoever is engaging in creating the local version will approach the job in a very similar way to the person employed to write the original.
Much like the process of creating the initial master version, it’s vitally important not to be too attached to one specific way of executing the idea right from the beginning.
If you enter the Transcreation process unprejudiced by the need to ‘stay close to the English master’, we’re much more likely to find an outcome that works both for the brand and for the market.
3. It’s more about the emotion than the words
Finding the most suitable way to communicate this core idea, using familiar cultural references and an appropriate delivery, will inevitably result in different wording. As long as it ignites the same feeling in the audience, as long as it elicits the same response, it’s consistent.
What does the future hold?
Many people still think of Transcreation as more akin to translation than a creative endeavor. Sadly this means that, despite the best intentions of everyone involved, many campaigns end up as nothing more than carbon copies of the original versions.
While this may create a superficial feeling of consistency, the fear of change is actually more likely to harm the consistency of a brand’s global identity.
Forcing foreign-feeling advertising on an audience generally results in, at best, ambivalence. In order to succeed, advertising needs to look, sound and feel as if it has been created solely for the consumer in the target market. Only then will it resonate with the same strength as in its home market.
As an industry we must learn to approach Transcreation with the same open-minded attitude we do when creating original work. We need to be ready to think from first principle and embrace change.
To understand that just because our home audience finds something funny, inspiring, motivating or sad, it doesn’t mean a foreign audience will respond in the same way. Only by adapting and committing to speak to different markets on their own terms can we communicate effectively.
If we can do this, then the future of our industry will be one where creativity and innovation are unrestricted by geographical, linguistic and cultural boundaries
Where brands can get their message across to audiences everywhere, and reach whole consumer segments that were previously inaccessible.