SimulTrans Localization Blog: SimulTips

The Art of Transcreation

[fa icon="calendar"] May 25, 2017 / by Greg Hellmann


In modern localization, the one thing that is pretty hard to come by is the kind of hand-crafted and compelling “no nonsense” website and marketing translation quality you need if you want target language content that actually helps to sell your products in a certain market.

What usually does not help our clients (who might also happen to have an additional marketing director in the target country reviewing translation work and localized content) is the usual type of generic, lackluster and uninspired literal translation. Yet, instead of going through a (much more expensive) local advertising agency, the job ends up being sent for translation.

Many clients end up pursuing translation services when actually they should be seeking transcreation (a service which cannot happen using the regular translation per-word rates of our industry). Transcreation requires translators to go the extra mile and think outside the box for clients, so that localized content spurs interest and inspires action in target audiences.



In order to enable and value high-quality translations, you need to first understand what the term “transcreation” really entails and embrace the idea that you need to move away from the source text for a work of transcreation to be successful.

For marketing translations, it is often necessary to freely and completely move away from the source in terms of syntax and words – by thinking about what is meant and coming up with creative solutions to express it so it fits naturally in another market.

You need to give thought to how people in the target language would express the thought, rather than processing words and grammar and continuing to think in the English “source world”.

For excellent transcreation results, you need to turn to people who still understand how this creative process actually works. Producing high-quality translations for high-profile content requires time and talent, as well as care and dedication on behalf of the translator – that’s all there is to it, and yet so much more!


Don't judge me on my transcreation skills. Or do!

If the translator does not go that extra mile during a marketing translation, you can almost bet that negative feedback from the client is likely to ensue.

Typically, we hear that the client has reviewed the translation and that “most corrections are only preferential changes.” Well, of course they are – the client prefers a better and more fluent translation – that’s all! They are merely putting the finger right where it hurts - the sting of literal translations as compared to high value target texts.

You might often encounter situations where you have a solid (but not great) initial translation but a client reviewer who is looking for a work of transcreation (one that really speaks to audiences in target markets and sells products better than regular translation).


Ideal Scenario

As a language service provider, ideally, we like to get feedback from the client with suggestions for improvement along with their examples. This can help not only the translator, but also the client to get a glimpse of the difficulty of transcreation, which is ultimately what they are looking for (knowingly or unknowingly).

As a translator, all I know is what a good marketing translation looks like and how to achieve it. You know, stuff like rendering the meaning of a five-word source tagline using only a single word in the target language, creating catchy transcreations, thinking outside the box, bold omissions, etc.

If website and marketing translation is an art form, we at SimulTrans are the artists.

Buy two (or more) languages from SimulTrans, and get a free German transcreation project!

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Topics: Translation Services

Greg Hellmann

Written by Greg Hellmann

As Translation and MT Manager, Greg is responsible for in-house translation production and the Machine Translation program at SimulTrans. With over 10 years of experience in the localization industry, he's taking an active role in the management team to maintain and build the business, helping to win new customers and contracts. At SimulTrans, he pioneered the introduction and utilization of various MT technology into production workflows. Greg holds a university degree in Translation from the Technical University of Cologne and speaks three languages.