Bubbles’ team of language translation service experts are often asked ‘what is the difference between translation, localisation and transcreation? They are all the same, right?’ Wrong!
When a business wants help to communicate more effectively with non-English speaking customers, we talk to them about the work and decide together what type of service they need. Some will need translation services, others will need content localised and others may even need transcreation services
What’s the difference between translation, localisation and transcreation?
Translation is the word-for-word translation of written content from one language to another, while localisation is all about ensuring content is appropriate, effective and tailored to a specific locale.
Transcreation is the term used to describe the action of creating new content specifically for a particular overseas market, ensuring it is on-point from a cultural perspective.
Let’s look at some examples of these different services in action:
Translation means the literal translation of each word of a text from one language to another. This type of service is, therefore, most appropriate for non-creative text and content, such as manuals and legal documents. Translation carried out by native speakers will help to ensure that any small nuances are identified and taken into consideration but, generally, this will involve the changing of text from one language into another, whilst ensuring the context, meaning, structure and purpose is retained.
We have provided translation services to a large number of our clients. For Formula 1 Management, for example, we provided a translation of signage for journalists attending the Monza Grand Prix, in eight different languages.
Now, this is a whole other ball game. Localisation can mean the difference between a marketing campaign that falls flat in, or even offends, prospective overseas markets and a campaign that successfully speaks to overseas customers.
Working with localisation experts can provide you with essential insights when expanding a business abroad. This can include anything from how customers shop, how they use different products and what they expect with regards to service; to the kinds of marketing techniques, they respond to, how they expect to pay for goods and the type of images that appeal to consumers in that region.
A recent example of this in action is Samsung’s marketing activity at this year’s Paris Fashion Week and the Monaco Yacht Show. Following its successful launch event in Paris back in 2016, when they decided to appeal to French consumers’ love of art by staging its own exhibition, displaying works of art on its own LED televisions, Samsung has decided to pull a similar stunt this year.
Let’s not forget that Samsung is a Korean company that has identified that appealing to French consumers is about showing integrity and the value of true art and luxury. Its Paris Fashion Week presence saw it stage ‘The Wall Luxury’, again showcasing its high-end televisions by using them as part of a trunk show at Paris’ Ritz Hotel.
In some scenarios, creating content specifically for a particular market, rather than simply translating and localising what already exists in English, is the best option. This is normally completed by a company’s marketing department and their marketing agencies as part of the strategic content approach to a marketplace. A company may decide that it makes more sense to open offices or branches in local markets specifically to create content that is culturally, politically, ethically and commercially spot-on.
Transcreation is becoming increasingly commonplace for major international corporations who want to make consumers all over the world feel that they are as important as any other. The likes of Apple, Coca-Cola and Nike have all decided to create original versions of their campaigns, slogans and packaging to suit different global marketplaces with great effect.
A great example is Apple’s iPod Shuffle campaign which, in English, used the phrase ‘small talk’ to play on the fact that the music player is so tiny. In other languages, however, the gag would be completely lost as a) ‘small talk’ doesn’t directly translate to mean the same thing in other languages and b) although other languages have their own words or phrases to mean ‘small talk’, they don’t contain the notion of ‘small’.
Apple decided to transcreate new slogans for each of the marketplaces they were targeting. It was a genius move and it worked.
Translation, localisation and transcreation are all linked, but can also be mutually exclusive requirements for businesses looking for language translation services. At Bubbles, we find that most of our customers need more than one of these services when embarking on a project – although they may not realise this when they first come to us. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how we’d approach your business’ requirements.