Understanding the difference between transcreation and traditional translation is critically important for an effective Spanish-language communications strategy. There’s a lot of truth behind the phrase, “lost in translation,” and the only way to avoid losing your message is to use transcreation.
Transcreation is the process of adapting a message into another language. The key word here is “adapting.” Translation can be as simple as running a sentence through Google Translate to get the basic meaning. At its core, translation is converting text from language into another in order to be understood. But is that enough for marketing and communications?
Transcreation involves first obtaining a clear understanding of the original message, its intended purpose, social and cultural nuances, and then recreating that message while preserving these critical elements. So while translation may be a word-for-word copy of the original text, transcreated text may end up being entirely different. Idioms, sayings, jokes and other turns of phrase often don’t translate well. A professional transcreator will understand not only the languages in question, but also be a skilled writer and communications professional, with the ability to create effective content
Transcreation is extremely important for an effective Hispanic marketing strategy. Just as you choose your words carefully in crafting an English-language communication, the same attention to detail is necessary in other languages in order to be received by your audience in a positive way.
For example, if you use a free online translation site to translate your website into Spanish, then it will be understood, overlooking some awkward translation fails. Your Spanish speaking visitors will understand what you are saying, but it will also be obvious that you’re not talking directly to them.
Transcreation sounds natural to a native speaker, and your message will resonate much more profoundly. Continuing with the example of a website, a native Spanish speaker won’t even realize that the original content was created in English, but rather consume the content as it was created exclusively for them.
Organizations are like people in many ways. They have a personality, a face, a style and a particular way of communicating. The verbal identity of your organization is one of your most powerful assets. It helps to distinguish you in the industry and forms the foundation of how you connect with donors, clients and other stakeholders. The voice and tone of your organization are the foundation of your verbal identity. A good transcreator will understand the principles of voice and tone and create a foreign-language equivalent that maintains your organization’s verbal identity.
Depending on your goals for reaching a Spanish-speaking audience, you may need to create a new verbal identity in Spanish. Organizations like March of Dimes have created completely separate brands in Spanish. In the case of March of Dimes, their Spanish-language brand is named “Nacersano” or literally “born healthy”. Of course, to a Spanish speaker, the name “Nacersano” doesn’t sound awkward like “born healthy” would in English, it’s actually incredibly relevant.
If you’re lucky enough to have employees or volunteers who speak Spanish, your organization is probably already reaching Spanish-speaking audiences. But would you let your accountant write your newsletter? Having language skills is just the beginning. Language skills must be accompanied by professional experience in marketing and communications and a deep understanding of culture. Contact us to get started on your Spanish-language strategy.