Transcreation merges two services
What exactly do I mean when I refer to transcreation? What makes it so different from translation?
I define transcreation as a unique type of service in the field of multilingual communication. That is because transcreation merges two services that have traditionally been sold and provided by two separate entities.
The first service is what we know as translation — the faithful transposition of a source text into a target text, with every detail accurately rendered.
The second service is copywriting — the work done by professional copywriters. Not literary writers, not academic writers, not creative writers, but writers for the business world. People who know how to sell a message.
The magic formula then essentially looks like this:
Transcreation = Translation + Copywriting
Looking at that formula, you might consider it more logical to use the term TRANSWRITING, as a more natural amalgamation of TRANSlation and copyWRITING. I fully agree. In addition, creation can be misleading. Many people tend to think that the creation part is all about creativity, misinterpreting it as something done in a random, whimsical, and spur-of-the-moment, chaotic manner. This is not the case, of course.
The creation part in transcreation refers to the thoughtful creation of content based on strategic, analytical aspects developed through client briefing conversations and written brief documents. Transcreation is a lot more about the ability to think on-brand and on-strategy than about coming up with seemingly creative wordplay. Yet transcreation has become the term of art, so in order to avoid any more confusion around the concept, I have decided to go with it.
Transcreation in a nutshell
To recap: In the word transcreation, trans refers to the translation aspect — the act of taking a particular text from one language into another — while creation covers the copywriting aspect — the writing expertise that concentrates on the target text and the impact of the target text, based on a client brief.
It is absolutely crucial to make clear to everyone on the buyer and the vendor side that transcreation consists of two services, rendered by one person: the transcreator. Hence, a transcreator is someone who is an expert in both translation and copywriting.
Why do I insist on that dual expertise? Because, by definition, only a transcreator is able to find the right balance between translation and copywriting, based on a source text and a brief from the end client.
A transcreator is an expert at creating the right balance between translation and copywriting, based on a source text and a brief from the end client.
A copywriter normally would not have the translation skills, unless she also had a strong translation background, and a translator would usually lack the copywriting skills, unless she also had a profound copywriting and marketing background.
As a buyer of transcreation services, you should look for someone with both skills if you want your text to be as close to the original as possible and at the same time emotionally engaging in the target language and culture.