The Brief — the Backbone of Transcreation

The Challenges of Marketing Translation

The term “transcreation” is used to describe the process of adapting the message of a copy from one language to another, preserving the intent, style, and tone in a way that is relevant to the cultural and social context of the target audience.

The transcreator needs to establish an emotional connection between the target audience and the message conveyed, always focusing on cultural relevance. A transcreated message must elicit the same emotional response and have the same implications for the target audience as the original message.

This specialized service involves adapting not only text, but also visuals—image and video—and, unlike many other forms of translation, it highlights the creative and independent role of the translator: ‘independentbecause the transcreator must be given freedom to recreate and reconstruct the source copy, focused mainly on conveying the message and not distorting the original meaning.

Still, transcreation is not just creation, but rather the ability to develop strategic thinking to adapt content to local markets that will produce the expected results.

As worldwide markets expand, marketing professionals face increasing challenges and advertising needs to reach not only the consumers’ minds, but also their hearts. Advertising must create emotions, motivate, and engage.

Indeed, in a world characterized by globalization and permanent connection to the digital world, an effective marketing strategy must necessarily transcend linguistic and cultural boundaries. A correct translation of words is not enough, taking local culture, context, habits, humor, practices, values, and beliefs into consideration is mandatory.

There is a tremendous amount of cultural and linguistic differences between countries, which can be an insurmountable barrier to the effectiveness of an international campaign. To meet these challenges, companies operating across borders are increasingly turning to transcreation.

In transcreation, time is of the essence

This is the very reason why transcreation, unlike the translation, should be charged on an hourly basis and never per word.

First, because the real object of the work is not the translation of the source words. It is a whole process in which the translation is limited to understanding the original content written in a foreign language, and which consists of a series of additional steps that cannot be quantified in the same way as translation, because they all require time and dedication.

Transcreating a short slogan may involve at least a full day of work devoted entirely to research, investigation, strategic thinking, adaptation, creation, backtranslation, and rationale.

The brief is another component of this service which involves time, that extends far beyond the time spent in translating the source copy.

Therefore, a translator cannot price his or her transcreation services based on word count alone, but rather on the time spent, as is the case with copywriting. In fact, transcreation is a service that is a great deal more similar to copywriting than to translation!

The Most Important Tool in Transcreation

In translation, the brief can be a relevant and useful auxiliary tool for adopting strategies and making decisions in the translation process. Each type of text, whether technical, scientific, or literary, has distinct features and requires different analysis, therefore, requiring different translation strategies.

Obviously, having information coming from the customer about their specific needs will help the translator provide better translations.

On the other hand, in transcreation, the brief is the leading actor, not an optional tool. It is the main tool, the “backbone” of the whole process.

The brief is a document detailing the customer’s concrete considerations and specifications regarding the work to be done and the customer’s needs and expectations, enabling the preparation of the transcreation workflow.

Ideally, the brief should be provided by the customer. However, whenever it is not available or proves to be insufficient, the translator should prepare questions to ask the customer to gather all relevant information.

Translation always starts from the source language copy. Contrastingly, transcreation always starts from the brief, which forms the basis of the transcreated copy. The words in the source text are actually secondary. The message, the distinct needs of each market, the specificities of the product, among other things, are more important than the wording in the source copy. Moreover, the whole process of transcreation is done constantly minding the brief.

It is crucial that the customer understands why we need the brief and how it holds the power to determine and influence the end-result. For example, the TOV (Tone of Voice) is vital to getting the results the customer is looking for. How do you determine what tone to adopt? Is it better to go for emotional; warm; joyful; relaxed? Or factual; honest; concise; serious?

What we do know for sure, is that the better the quality of the brief obtained from the customer, the better the quality of the transcreated copy.

If you are looking for quality transcreation services, don’t forget to provide a brief that is as comprehensive as possible for the professional you have hired! Learn how to create a brief here.

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