2020 Trends: More Transcreation Opportunities in the Business World

April 1, 2020 |

In 2020, we will see an increase in demand for transcreation services, as part of the overall marketing translation endeavor. Transcreation is the process of taking the original voice of a company in their marketing materials and expressing it to a new foreign audience.

This exercise involves far more than just translation. Imagery, colors, and iconography can change, as can entire blocks of content. Indeed, nothing is sacred when it comes to transcreation, other than expressing the original intent of the marketing materials. Even logos, product names and straplines can be modified to connect with foreign clients and engage the target audience in the appropriate way.

This is a key trend for businesses looking to leverage the opportunities that come with globalization. Technological and logistical advances allow companies to reach out to customers around the world. 

Translation is taking words from one language and replacing them with equivalent words in another language.  With the rise of online content and marketing campaigns, transcreation has become more common and important for companies who want to reach their global audience.

Transcreation is a mix of translating and creative writing. The goal is to keep the intent, tone, and style intact and make the information read as if it was originally created in the translated language.

More than simply translators, transcreators are creative, market-focused copywriters who are culturally experts. Often they can help with adapting the look and feel of your materials, as well as the words.

Transcreation really comes into play when there are significant cultural differences between the two parties who wish to communicate.

Any creative marketing campaign requires a lot of pre-planning, time and money going into it before adapting it for the local markets; interaction between the creative team and the client develop over several long months, numerous meetings and dilemmas are faced before everybody is happy with the English version.

When moving on to creating the copy for your other target markets, you cannot rush and undermine all the hard work that has gone in to the English version. It is important to understand that witty word puns/plays and even visuals often used in marketing campaigns are not very easy to adapt into another language or culture. To see this task as only translating a few words would be unwise. One has to make the end result (transcreation) look and feel as if it was conceived in the resulting language.

Main transcreation characteristics: 

  • Different content developed to meet business objectives
  • Developed in local language; source language may be used as part of the brand vocabulary
  • Images and layout are changed to meet local expectations and product needs
  • Brand vocabulary is enhanced and expanded

Transcreation can be of use when translating the following:

  • Idioms
  • Taglines
  • General Branding Materials
  • Humor
  • Country-Specific Phrases
  • Wordplay

Cultural Differences And Awareness

Transcreation demands a creative brief, just like any creative projects in the source language.

Transcreation: translation + creative writing

As localization goes beyond the language to address cultural adaptation, transcreation goes even further, making sure your content sounds local by adapting nuances, idioms, speech and phrasing.

While business partnerships might seem difficult between Chinese and US companies, there are plenty of US companies relying on Chinese manufacturing in order to produce their products. Establishing such global partnerships would be far harder without the aid of transcreation. It is a service that can work past the threats of the bigger picture in order to overcome cultural barriers. As such, it paves the way for opportunity.

Examples of cultural differences with China:

So you’ve taken the plunge into China. You are aware of the major challenges and differences you’ll face when working across the cultural gap and how to overcome them. Below are some cultural characteristics that come into play. In Chinese culture, colors and numbers have deep meanings that need to be taken into consideration in transcreation:



White: Purity, but also mourning

Yellow: considered one of the luckiest of colors

Green: health, prosperity and harmony.

Red: fortune and joy, a very positive color.

Practical example: notice that where we use red to denote negative performance, the opposite is true in China. For example, a stock ticker will show price rises in red.


Numbers are also imbued with great meaning.

In general, even numbers are considered better than odd numbers.

#8 is considered very lucky. It was no coincidence that the

Chinese Olympics opening ceremony was held on 08/08/08 (at 8pm too)

#1, 3, 6, and 9 are also generally considered favorable, especially in pairs

(e.g. 66 and 99).

#7 can be considered good or bad, depending on context.

#4 is unlucky as it sounds like death

The overall future of the translation industry looks bright. The exponential increase of content – as well as the rise in companies and regions to create and consume it – will naturally see more businesses invest in translation, localization and transcreation services.

The most innovative companies will see it less as an ad hoc cost and more as an opportunity to differentiate and take the lead in foreign markets instead of settling for the cheapest language services available. Companies that focus on providing quality experiences to local and non-native customers alike, will have space to stand out.

Before embarking on the actual transcreation process, the concept should be tested and all possible issues already ironed out. It might be that the visuals (for example a wrong type of headscarf) are not quite right for your aimed markets, or it could be that the whole concept (for example references to kissing or dating) is not a good idea for some countries.

As part of transcreation services, Alpha Omega Translations can guide you through the process and help you cuts costs, speed up your projects, and leverage your experience and leverage your success in foreign markets.

Category: Translation Services

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