Common Transcreation Challenges to Look Out For

Transcreation takes the act of translation a step further. Instead of creating a direct translation, trancreators take elements like culture and humor into account to create custom copy that is tailored to a specific audience. It’s very common to utilize transcreation services when it comes to slogans, video games, ad campaigns, and social media content.

Transcreation projects may be very short in the sense that the final copy may only be a few words long (like with a slogan), but since the work required is purely creative, the transcreator faces many challenges before coming up with the perfect target text.

Here are a few transcreation challenges transcreators tend to run into.

Specific knowledge of the industry, target audience, client, and product

Before tackling a transcreation project, the transcreator should make sure they know the industry or product their content is about inside and out. If they aren’t familiar with it, the transcreator should research the industry and related terminology in depth in order to know in which ways they can use its jargon in a creative or persuasive way. A transcreation brief can also aid in providing the transcreator with all the information necessary to complete the project. Familiarity with the target audience is of utmost importance and not knowing exactly who the text is targeting can present a real challenge. Not only in terms of language variant, for example, but also where they live and what generation they belong to.

Lack of context

It’s not unusual for the transcreator to only receive an email with the sentence that needs to be transcreated. However, this isn’t enough information for them to go off of, as blindly translating copy is an impossible task. Knowing how and where the content will be displayed is extremely helpful to the tanscreator. If this is not taken into account, the client runs the risk of having a target text that is not effective.

Images tied to the source text

Frequently the content that needs to be transcreated has an image attached to it which can present a challenge for the trancreator. When a piece of copy needs to relate to a select image, the transcreator’s creativity becomes restricted as they must come up with a solution that also goes well with that image. Consider the example shown in this video with the phrase “why the long face?”.

Character limits

Space is valuable real estate when it comes to ads and other marketing mediums, so character limit restrictions are often the number one enemy of the transcreator. Words in some languages are longer than in English, so the target text regularly expands as soon as it is translated.

Character limits can force the transcreator to look for ways to convey the same intention of the original copy with other words or creative devices that use less space. Even if there’s not an actual character limit, the transcreator should strive to make the transcreation no more than 10% longer than the source. Otherwise, the copy becomes wordy and loses impact. In our fast-paced world, people want clear and concise messages—they don’t want to read long-winded text.

Cultural references

Incorporating cultural elements into marketing content can help the customer relate better. Nevertheless, when taking products to new markets, these cultural elements should be reassessed and adapted by the transcreator to fit the target culture. This can be a challenging part of the transcreation process.

Idioms, puns, wordplays and rhymes

These creative devices spice up the language and make messages funny, witty, and more engaging. Ultimately, these devices can make copy memorable, but when it comes time to take it to the target language they are almost impossible to replicate (especially considering the challenges discussed above).

To overcome this, the transcreator strives to look for other devices, from the target language, that can help evoke the same emotional response or create the same impact. On occasions, the transcreator has to choose between content or form. This is of course an impossible choice, but at times it is not necessary to keep the rhyme if the text maintains the rhythm.

The Takeaway

Transcreation is not a process that should be rushed. Taking the time needed to overcome these challenges can lead to a much higher quality final product. It also helps immensely to have someone working on the project who is very experienced in transcreation work as they will be best equipped at dealing with these challenges.

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