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Translation & transcreation agency

What’s the difference between translation, transcreation and copywriting?

 
It takes time and skill to write creatively. But when communicating across borders, there’s an additional element to consider other than just language: culture.

Whoever you work with on your communications has to be able to choose meaningful words, make the text flow smoothly, use the right style of language for the target audience and portray your company in the way you want it to be seen.

So, let’s take a look at the differences between the three services to help you decide who you should speak to: a translation, copywriting or transcreation agency.
 

Transcreation vs translation – two different services with one very big thing in common

Translators can provide you with either of these services (no need to search for a ‘transcreator’ separately). They don’t differ in terms of the quality you’ll get, but they will give you a slightly different end product depending on the type of text.

So, what’s the difference?

Translation

  • What does it involve?
    Transferring the words and meaning of a text from one language into another. Machine translation has certainly improved since it first came on the market, but it still has its limits. A good (human) translator will, for example, culturally align their translation. This means potentially modifying the language to make it politically correct, adapting the format of dates and currencies as well as replacing idioms with a suitable local phrase. This is also known as localisation. However, a translator is somewhat restricted by being bound to following the source material.
  • What is it most suitable for?
    Anything that requires a simple and accurate transferral of meaning into a different language, e.g. technical documents and informative texts.

Transcreation

  • What does it involve?
    As with translation, transcreation is the transferal of the words and meaning of a text from one language into another.
    However, when transcreating, a translator works to a brief and takes the overall concept or message from the source text and adapts/recreates it in a different language, taking into account literary devices and cultural references. It is still somewhat bound by the source, but to a lesser extent than translation.
  • What is it most suitable for?
    Anything that requires a creative touch or needs to appeal to the reader’s emotions, e.g. marketing and advertising material, or literary works.

An example of transcreation in advertising would be Haribo’s slogan.

The German slogan is: “Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso.”

Which translates to: “Haribo makes kids happy, and grown-ups too.”

Haribo’s transcreated English slogan, as you probably already know, is: “Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo.”

The wording has changed, but the concept and message are exactly the same. And the rhyme and catchy rhythm of the German version has also been maintained. This is a perfect example of transcreation done well.
 

Copywriting – scope for even more creative freedom

If you feel your message could benefit from even more freedom, then tasking a skilled copywriter to work on your project might just be the way to go. Provide them with a clear brief of what kind of content you need as well as who it needs to appeal to, and let their creativity do the rest.

Be advised, though, that this will understandably result in a text that is completely different from its counterpart in German. However, the core message and intent behind the content should remain the same.

This way of working might be particularly beneficial when it comes to search engine optimisation. Attractive content is a must in any marketing strategy. But online marketing content will only increase your bottom line if the text in it is optimised for search engines.

The right wording is crucial: if you want to be found, you need to place the right keywords in the right places, and get the quantity right. In addition to that, the writing style needs to grab people’s attention and entice them to read your content. And a good copywriter will be able to incorporate all of this into the copy they create.

Another benefit is cost.

Instead of hiring a German copywriter and then hiring a translator to convert the message from German into English, it will probably save you time and money to just hire an English copywriter (provided you can brief them in a language you’re comfortable with).
 

So, to sum it up:

  • Choose a translator if you’d like the source material to be binding (such as for reports or legal documents).
  • Hire a transcreation agency for anything that requires a more creative touch but still has a source to remain faithful to.
  • Contact a copywriter if the scope of the brief calls for even more creative freedom (such as for blogs or a marketing campaign).