Transcreation for marketing and advertising

We help you strike the right tone

Transcreation – more than just a translation

In need of an imaginative translation for your advertising campaign that will capture the interest of your target audience? Keen to make sure your message lands? Then look no further than our transcreation service!

Transcreation is a hybrid of translation and text creation services. This kind of translation goes one step further. To be able to get your message across to a different culture, you need to know it like the back of your hand. This effectively means a very free marketing translation that has a finely honed sense of creativity and cultural understanding.

It’s not the words of the source text that really matter, but the message itself and what it means to the target audience.

In transcreation, we take into account not only the linguistic aspects of the target language but its cultural context too. The target text is geared towards the needs of a specific cultural and/or geographic group. In this kind of marketing translation, it’s not what you say but how you say it that counts. Word-for-word formulations may convey all sorts of emotions that were not originally intended. So it’s not really a pure translation as such, but the creation of a completely new text.

Features of transcreation

Where transcreation comes in useful

Marketing translation

People spend a lot of time getting their marketing campaigns just right, so the foreign-language version must do justice to the original – and that means ensuring that it is linguistically and culturally relevant to the audience. A skilled transcreation can capture the essence of your campaign and transform it into something that other cultures can understand too.

Target group-
oriented texts

Cultural factors may mean that certain texts or structures are not appropriate for the target market. Your carefully crafted message may not produce the same impact or inspire the emotional response you were looking for.

Getting the message across

Slogans are often the linchpin of a successful advertising campaign. And words hold great power ‒ choose the wrong ones, and the concept or feeling you want to express gets completely lost.

Challenges of transcreation

Transcreation is a complex and highly creative task, weaving together the skills of copywriting and translation. Two key points to mention here:

An initial briefing to find out the aim of your campaign and learn about the target group is essential. We need a solid overview of the project to make sure that we can give it the right translation treatment. Secondly, it’s a task that requires hand-picked translators, because not everyone is an expert in transcreation. This kind of translation demands a certain amount of linguistic wizardry and plenty of experience in transcreation and copywriting. As your trusted translation agency, we are very pleased to advise you before, during and after the project. We also go to great lengths to find the perfect translator for your assignments.

What a successful transcreation might look like

Slogans are the mainstays of many advertising campaigns, and they are designed to be memorable. The translation therefore needs to hit the nail on the head, whatever the language. A number of international companies have successfully turned to transcreation for this purpose.

One example is HARIBO. Its German slogan “HARIBO macht Kinder froh und Erwachsene ebenso” is catchy and easy to sing along to. But… its signature memorability is missing in the word-for-word translation (“HARIBO makes children happy and adults, too”), even though it is grammatically correct. Transcreation, on the other hand, pays attention to melody and rhythm both in English and French:

Kids and grown-ups love it so – the happy world of HARIBO

HARIBO c‘est beau la vie, pour les grands et les petits

A false economy:

A well-known Austrian sparkling wine producer learned the hard way how a lack of knowledge can drastically affect the outcome of a translation. Its German slogan “Der außergewöhnliche Verführer” came out in English, rather unfortunately, as “the exceptional abuser”. It turned out that the word “Verführer” (seducer) had been misunderstood as “Missbraucher” (abuser).

Do you need a slogan or marketing text translated into one or more foreign languages, but aren’t sure whether transcreation is right for you?

Then please do get in touch for some friendly advice on which service best fits your needs.

Ruby’s tip
Customer advisor

Transcreation process

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Meeting to discuss strategy and the aim of your message

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Source text is translated into the target language, respecting the various cultural, linguistic and emotional nuances

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Target file is returned to you; translation memory and termbase are updated

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Reviewed by the client

In-country review by experts based in the campaign country

Technical versus creative

You could say that a technical translation is the polar opposite to transcreation. In technical translation, the target text remains faithful to the source, and many of the elements must be translated word-for-word. To better illustrate their differences, let’s compare technical translation with transcreation:

Technical translation

  • Specialist translator
  • Adheres strictly to the source text
  • Clear formulations
  • Precise stipulations as to style
  • Adheres strictly to the original sequence


  • Transcreator
  • Very loose translation of the source text
  • Inventive formulations
  • Free choice of style
  • Sequence depends on the flow of the text

CAT tools and transcreation – a contradiction in terms?

For transcreation, it is far better to work directly in the original file, such as a Word document. This gives the transcreator more freedom to let their thoughts and imagination to roam wild. That said, there’s nothing to stop you using a CAT tool or a translation memory ‒ in some cases, it could even be advantageous, as the transcreation is stored in the translation memory to serve as inspiration in future projects.

FAQs about transcreation

Transcreation is great for marketing translations, such as brochures, social media posts, advertising letters and slogans. Creative texts need creative translations. This is where transcreation comes into its own, as it is all about conveying emotions, concepts and messages rather than simply words. If you’re unsure whether transcreation is right for you, please get in touch and we will be happy to make some recommendations.

Transcreation is a job for our qualified specialist translators, who are adept at spinning text into their native language. Translators are carefully selected based on their experience in transcreation. This is very important, because not every translator is a good match for this discipline. The finished text is then passed on to eagle-eyed translators to make sure that no errors have escaped notice.

In a classic translation, the translator will stick more closely to the source text, adopting its structures where appropriate. In transcreation, it’s the exact opposite: the transcreator all but forgets about the source text and conveys the core message to the target audience in the target language using different techniques and structures… and plenty of artistic licence.

When working creatively, it’s often useful to work in a simple Word document, which gives you the freedom to move away from the source text. That said, it is entirely possible to tackle a transcreation using CAT tools and the corresponding translation memory. We are happy to provide some more guidance on this subject if desired.