If you are creating communication centrally, you have several options available when crossing borders. You can translate. You can re-create. Between these two options is a broad spectrum of possibilities including transcreation.

Which option is best for your project? Find out by mousing over the spectrum below and see how they compare.

• PROS: Inexpensive, perfect spelling
  and grammar. Easy to manage.

• CONS: The marketing and branding
  aspects of the copy suffer,
  decreasing its emotional appeal
  and motivation power.

PROS: Understand branding
  and marketing.

• CONS: Expensive. Resistance to
  adapting ideas from others.
  Reinvention of the wheel. Difficult
  to manage.

• Focus: Words & meaning

• Aim: Preserve meaning
  of words

• Performed by linguists with
  little copywriting skill.

• Focus: Ideas & motivation

• Aim: Create something original

• Performed by copywriters
  trained in using words to
  convince and motivate people
  to action.

Copywriter Bilingual Freelance ($$)

Copywriter Local Agency ($$$)

Copywriter Multinational Agency ($$$$)

Transcreator Professional ($$$)

• This can be a solution but becomes a management
  hassle if you are dealing with multiple markets.
  Local agencies are best used for creating original
  communication campaigns for their home market.

  This person is typically a copywriter who is trained
  more in creating new ideas than adapting ideas
  from others.

• PROS: Moderately inexpensive compared to a
  multinational agency.

• CONS: Can be difficult to manage and keep on brief.

Translation Program (FREE)

Translator Non-Professional ($)

Translator Professional ($$)

• Designed for mass communication where tone,
  nuance and motivation are important. E.G. ad
  campaigns, website copy, POS and sales material.

• This person is typically a skilled copywriter who
  specialises in specific source/target-language
  combination and takes pride in adapting concepts
  from one culture to another.

PROS: Specialists versed in local cultural,
  copywriting and marketing. Professional and reliable.

CONS: Moderately expensive.

• Great for help with business documents where you
  would like a human touch or when you have small
  projects that require one-off, original creative for
  one market.

• This person is typically a writer who is a native in
  the target language but who may be less versed in
  the source language.

• PROS: Moderately inexpensive.

• CONS: No quality assurance, risk of
  misinterpretation of source language. Questionable
  adaptation skills.

• This is the most expensive and time-consuming
  option. These agencies are best used for creating
  original communication campaigns that can then
  be modified by transcreation professionals

• This person is typically a copywriter who is trained
  more in creating new ideas than adapting ideas from
  other people.

• PROS: Understanding of your marketing goals.

• CONS: Can be difficult to manage and keep on brief.
  The most expensive option.

• The best option for quick translations of emails,
  websites, memos, etc.

• There are a number of programs you can buy or use
  for free online. Google Translate is a popular choice.

• PROS: Translations are relatively clear. You can’t
  beat the price, speed and convenience.

• CONS: Translations sound more like a machine
  talking than a human and they have a high error rate.

• Great for help with business documents and
  correspondence where you would like a
  human touch.

• This person can range from the receptionist to a
  freelance writer who is bilingual.

PROS: Easy, fast and inexpensive.

CONS: No quality assurance, often little
  understanding of nuance in source language,
  and often no copywriting skill.

• Best for business documents where accuracy and
  detail are important.

• This person is typically a highly skilled linguist
  who understands both the source and target
  languages but is only proficient in one (usually
  the target language).

PROS: Moderately inexpensive. Professional
  and reliable.

CONS: Little copywriting skill.

When to consider transcreation

You invest in professional copywriting not only for its ability to inform, but also for its capacity to relate to the target and motivate them to action. Those are often the first two qualities to be lost in translation. What’s needed is a way to get your brand’s message across in a way that will resonate well in a different cultural context. Transcreation is the way to preserve that investment and minimize risk of miscommunication or brand erosion.

Transcreation knows that good marketing copy is more than a series of words intended to convey information. Good marketing copy must establish trust. It must convey empathy and convince the target that the voice behind the words understands their unique situation. It should be full of emotion, nuance and colloquialism that cannot be translated directly. All that creates a challenge when branding across borders.