What is Marketing Translation?

Marketing translationsometimes referred to as transcreation, is a term used by many translators serving the advertising and marketing sector to distinguish the mental effort required to translate highly creative material vs other types of written documents. Although there’s a certain degree of ‘recreating’ that always takes place through the translation process, there are certainly some types of translations that take more creativity and time than the norm. For example, when it comes to the Spanish translation of slogans, commercials, and highly creative material for marketing purposes, the use of transcreation is a better word to describe how these types of materials are carefully transformed into Spanish. It takes creativity and research to come up with an equivalent in the Spanish language that will convey the same meaning of the original message while sticking to the project requirements–if any–such as text length, rhyming, number of words, intended ring, and natural flow, among others. It would be unreasonable to think that a slogan, for example, that took days to be thought of by a marketing team, could be easily translated in seconds. Some materials take more effort to be translated effectively, and that’s the distinction the term ‘transcreation’ is trying to convey.

To give you an example, let me share a translation that I did for one of my clients–a 15 second audio campaign–that would fit under the transcreation category:

You’re a fighter 

Until flu season throws you a sucker punch. 

Beat flu to the punch with a vaccine today. 

Creative material like the example above can be challenging, simply because phrases such as “sucker punch” and “beat the flu to the punch” don’t have a literal equivalent that carries the intent of the message. So, this is the Spanish equivalent that I came up with:

Eres un luchador

Hasta que la temporada de gripe te golpee sin avisar.

Dale un golpe a la gripe vacunándote hoy. 

I replaced “sucker punch” with the Spanish translation of “until it hits you without warning,” and for “beat the flu to the punch” I used the phrase “punch the flu.” Even though there are many boxing terms with a Spanish translation, these two I had to work with didn’t, and that’s when transcreation comes into play.

Many translators choose not to make a distinction between the two terms, since transcreation is technically still a translation. However, it’s still important to make this distinction to better illustrate the different levels of complexity when it comes to Spanish translation, and it’s reasonable to conclude that these levels are an important variable that drives translation cost.

In summary, transcreation digs deeper into the translation process–it’s the art of finding the right words and addressing readers appropriately; it’s adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context; it’s finding the right phrases that make your translated text come to life with a sense for your Latino audience, their culture, and always keeping your objectives and goals in mind. So, as your Spanish translator, I must understand the desired outcome thoroughly, and be given the freedom not only to translate the original but also to make significant changes to it, if needed, in the process.

If you still have questions about transcreation, or if you would like to request an estimate, don’t hesitate to contact me!