What is transcreation? Definition and meaning

Transcreation is a service that’s halfway between translation and copywriting (and thus creation). In short, it involves the interlinguistic adaptation of advertising and marketing copy. This means rewriting a promotional or advertising text in another language with respect to the original.

Translating is like a journey: there’s a text that’s the point of departure (the source text, written in the language from which you translate) and a point of arrival (the target text, written in the language into which you translate). Advertising is a cultural product, and the culture of a population is intricately tied to its language. In fact, world visions and communication styles are influenced by language structures. Furthermore, the aim of advertising is to elicit a given reaction in its target audience, and copywriting consists of writing advertising and marketing copy that can persuade the public. To be more incisive and memorable, wordplay and cultural references are often used. Often, however, they are not translatable or understandable for people living in other countries, who speak a different language, have a different culture and are familiar with another market. That’s why transposing advertising messages or marketing information from a source language to a target language is more complicated than straight translation.

In an increasingly connected world in which geographical distances are bridged by the internet, companies are also selling outside their domestic market. They chiefly turn to foreign markets and, potentially, the whole world. When a company communicates on an international level, it must satisfy two opposite needs: keeping the meaning and tone of the original message in the different languages, while also advertising in a way that “works” in the target country. Since the aim is to produce copy that is effective for the target culture and market, it’s also beneficial to readapt it completely if faithful transposition cannot achieve this. Let’s look at an example. The Italian payoff for Norton™ AntiVirus, “Boldly Go” and “Go boldly, not blindly”, respectively became “Punta in alto” (aim high) and “Punta in alto senza rischi” (aim high without risks). Both work in the two languages, but they say completely different things: the Italian transcreation of the message is a complete rewriting of the original. The process that led me to developing the Italian version is explained in detail here.

Whenever there are advertising and marketing messages to be used in different countries, transcreation enters into the picture. Here’s my own personal definition of transcreation, from the academic paper “Transcreation as Creation of a New Original: a Norton™ Case Study”: “writing advertising or marketing copy for a specific market, starting from copy written in a source language, as if the target text had been originated in the target language and culture”.

Transcreation or translation?

Let’s set the record straight: transcreation is not a synonym for translation, nor for creative translation. First of all, any translation is creative work per se, regardless of whether it involves advertising copy or a sales contract. Secondly, transcreation is an entirely different service from translation and it requires four different skills:

Language skills: like any translator worth their salt, the transcreation professional grasps all the nuances of meaning in the original advertising or marketing copy.

Copywriting skills: like any good copywriter, the transcreation professional is able to write persuasively and can rework the original copy – sometimes completely differently – in the most effective way for the target language and culture, offering numerous creative options and illustrating the reasons behind each suggestion. Naturally, all of this respects the client’s brief.

Cultural sensitivity: like a cultural anthropologist, the transcreation professional is a keen observer with profound knowledge of the target culture, and can thus draw on it for transcreation. Therefore, it’s essential for the professional to live in the target country, in order to have everyday contact with the local culture.

Local market understanding: like the most seasoned marketer, the transcreation professional knows the market scenario in which clients and their competitors work. This means avoiding creative paths previously travelled by the competition, in order to produce copy that fully captures the uniqueness of the client’s brand. This is another reason that it’s fundamental for the professional to live in the target country.

Transcreation from English and German to Italian

Dropinka® is Claudia Benetello. It’s not an agency, but an independent professional. Each assignment is personally carried out by me, and I offer transcreation services from English and German to Italian.

Where is transcreation used?

Whenever you have advertising or marketing copy (in other words, a text that is clearly intended to persuade your audience) to translate from one language to another, you need transcreation, not a creative translation.

A few examples?

  • Taglines
  • TV commercials
  • Radio commercials
  • Print ads
  • Out-of-home
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Web content
  • Social-media posts

As a transcreation specialist, I pretty much cover all industries:

  • Audio
  • Automotive
  • Chemicals
  • Consumer electronics
  • Consumer goods
  • Corporate consulting
  • Cosmetics and beauty products
  • Fashion
  • Finance
  • Food & beverage
  • Ho.Re.Ca.
  • IT
  • Luxury goods
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Tourism

Claudia Benetello, transcreation expert

I’m a communications specialist based in Milan, and have been in the business since 2005. As a transcreation specialist, I help Italian and international companies and communication agencies adapt advertising and marketing copy from English and German to Italian. Drawing on my expertise and sensitivity, I can establish if a relatively faithful transposition of the source text will be effective in Italian or if the message must be reworked.

When you work with me, you can count on my full professional consultancy:

Cultural and naming consultation: assessing the appropriateness of a message, copy, visual and/or brand name for the Italian market.

Transcreation: adaptation of the advertising or marketing copy from English or German to Italian, providing several creative proposals based on the brief you provide.

Voice casting: for radio and TV commercials, selection of the best speakers for the job.

Voiceover direction: for radio and TV commercials, direction and coordination of the speakers at the recording studio.

Why choose me for transcreation?

  • Flexibility: I cater to your every need, thanks to experience dealing with a wide variety of advertising and marketing copy, and an array of industries.
  • No intermediaries: Dropinka® is not a communications agency but an independent professional who personally handles every transcreation project. This means you’ll save time and money for a service that’s been crafted with love and meticulous attention to detail to fit you like a glove.
  • Experience: I have almost 20 years of experience and a long list of satisfied customers.
  • Excellent training: I combine solid mastery of foreign languages with outstanding copywriting skills. I hold the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (the top certificate for English) and the Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (the top certificate for German), and have a specialist Master’s in Copywriting and Advertising Communication from Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM in Milan, which includes coursework at the prestigious Miami Ad School.

Seeing is believing.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So take a look at some of my transcreation projects, published in compliance with the non-disclosure agreements in force.

Wondering if you can trust me?

Here are some testimonials about my transcreation services.

How much does it cost?

Every transcreation project is unique. Contact me for a customised quotation, with no obligation.Have a project you’d like to discuss

Have a project you’d like to discuss?