Can feelings be translated? They can. Thanks to transcreation.

The Mitsubishi Pajero was a successful seller. But why didn’t this sport utility vehicle initially do well in Spain or South America? You guessed it: the problem was its name – buyers weren’t keen on being associated with what “pajero” means in slang Spanish. Mitsubishi found itself caught in a culture trap, and the resulting harm to its image in Spanish-speaking markets was considerable. The Pajero was quickly redubbed “Montero” – much less controversial. The automotive sector got a good laugh out of it, but it was all at Mitsubishi’s expense – literally.

McDonald's did better. The fast food giant chose the transcreation approach when launching its "Iʼm lovinʼ it" slogan in China. Aware that the Chinese would never utter the word love in public, it went with "I just like it". Another example? “Haribo macht Kinder froh und Erwachsene ebenso!” It sounds good in German; it rhymes and it’s memorable. But a raw English translation would go something like “Haribo (maker of jelly babies) makes children happy and adults too”. Not terribly compelling. This highly successful slogan can, however, be transcreated. Creative minds brought the jelly babies to international attention using the same linguistic style, message and emotion:

  • “Haribo c’est beau la vie, pour les grands et les petits!” and

  • “Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo”.

So as you can see, transcreation is anything but word-for-word translation. The fusion of the words translation and creation says it all. We speak of “creative translation”. Primarily used in marketing communication, transcreation’s all about eliciting equivalent feelings and reactions. The source text mustn’t be allowed to forget its “message” on its way to the target-language audience. Transcreation calls for highly developed linguistic skills. Transcreators are more than translators: they’re able to convey messages and feelings to the target groups of international markets. For over 25 years now, Apostroph Group has been delivering professional transcreations in 48 languages. Our language professionals

  • Are native speakers of the target language and familiar with every aspect of its linguistic culture

  • Really engage with the communication goal, core messages and emotional world of the target group

  • Familiarise themselves with the brand identity, marketing and/or campaign concept and with the visual context

  • Know that transcreation also needs country-specific SEO featuring effective keywords

Transcreation builds bridges between linguistic cultures. To engage with your target group at an emotional level, you have to speak its language – something that also applies within the same linguistic region. So the transcreators knew that a Knoppers (a German brand of wafer bar) would sell better in German-speaking Switzerland if it was described as a "Chnuschperznüni" (Swiss-German for “crunchy mid-morning snack”) than a “Frühstückchen” (the equivalent in High German). You won’t find that in any translation textbook!

So what sort of text lends itself to transcreation? Perhaps what your text needs is some fine-tuning in terms of editing or proofreading? Let’s talk about it. We’ll help you get your message elegantly across the finishing line in the linguistic culture of your choice. Find out more>>

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