When Transcreation Makes More Sense than Translation
Will a simple translation have the rhetorical effect you need in another market? If not, you might consider developing content from scratch to meet the expectations of the audience to which you’re selling. Here are a few general items that every buyer should know before engaging in projects that require transcreation services:
- Purpose. Unlike translation, the purpose of transcreation is to evoke a specific desired reaction or emotion from the buyer. If the message does not sound right from the beginning, the buyer will carry the negative connotations all the way through the marketing and sales process. Especially in sales and pre-sales settings, poor communications can negatively impact the buying process.
- Project types. The jobs that most typically require transcreation are usually related to marketing and advertising. Frequent projects relate to branding, corporate identity, manuals, brochures, sales materials, some types of user manuals, press releases, and websites – content which is usually meant to elicit an emotional response. Some regulatory filings, such as annual reports and listings, also require transcreation due to legal requirements and the sequence of how information is displayed, as in a Form 10-K report.
- Providers. The companies that offer transcreation fall into three major categories:
1) niche players that specialize in transcreation;
2) large language service providers with experience doing advertising/marketing translation;
3) advertising agencies, especially those that specialize in multicultural domestic markets (see Figure 1)
- Volumes. Transcreation projects tend to be quite small – just 2,000 to 5,000 words instead of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of words. Smaller niche transcreation providers will undertake these smaller efforts, while larger projects with a mixture of transcreation and “straight translation” requirements typically go to the bigger, more generalist suppliers.
- Turnaround time. Because clients often fail to plan appropriately and provide sufficient time to their suppliers, most transcreation providers work with timeframes of hours and days instead of weeks and months. However, for larger jobs, such timeframes are not possible.
- Starting point. Instead of getting the source files from the client, a transcreation project typically requires the client to give the transcreation provider a creative brief, including all the background information about the target market – such as any market studies or focus groups that they have conducted. The more information the firm has about the intended audience, the better prepared they will be to do the work.
- Resources. Transcreation firms typically work with bilingual creative writers, not with translators. If translators are engaged for transcreation projects, they most often have a literary translation or advertising background, and are therefore accustomed to dealing with work of a more creative type. Because the freelancers do not usually agree to be paid on a per-word basis for this type of work, they often bill out their services by the hour.
- Costs. Transcreation is far more expensive than translation. They commonly bill such work on a project basis, or by the hour. While they do not price jobs on a per-word basis, some providers charge for a set number of words (for example, US$500 for every 1,000 words). However, if the provider does charge by the word, text type may determine the cost. For example, they may invoice more for headlines and titles than they do for copy, because the former needs to capture the attention of the reader faster.
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*Sources: Best Practices for Purchasing Transcreation Services: November 2009 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc