Transcreation in Localisation: What is it and when to use it?

Given the disparity between one language from another, it is only to be expected that some words or phrases do not translate well into the local dialect of different nations. For instance, McDonald’s world-famous slogan ‘I’m lovin’ it’ would not be well received in Spain as the word ‘love’ in Spanish connotes a far stronger meaning than its English equivalent. Thus, a direct translation would be misleading since the English version does not imply such an intense adoration for McDonald’s and its offerings. Although many Spanish speakers are fans of McDonald’s, a direct translation of that slogan would be over the top.

The solution is to simply translate its meaning, rather than the words of the original slogan. Thus, McDonald’s came up with a more natural Spanish translation, ‘Me encanta’, which essentially means ‘I really, really, really like it’, but not to the point that one wants to marry it. This type of linguistic fine-tuning is called transcreation, a more creative form of translation.

Understanding transcreation

Transcreation goes beyond localisation, not only does it localise content, but it also preserves its original feeling, meaning, and intent. It is instrumental in marketing copies and advertising where the tone of voice and emotional impact are paramount, if not more so than the actual words used.

Transcreation for key business activities

Coined from combining ‘translation’ and ‘creation’, transcreation is a term used to define the process of translating a message from one language to another while preserving its context, style, tone, and intent. Another notable example of transcreation at work is when Haribo, a German confectionery company, decided to expand its marketing campaign to target English-speaking countries.

Haribo is already an established brand in its home market, and is commonly associated with its rhyming, sing-along slogan that goes ‘Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso’, which translates in English to ‘Haribo makes children happy, and adults too’. There was nothing wrong with this translation, but the original expression of childlike joy and singable rhyme got lost in translation, both of which are critical to the company’s marketing impact and success in the German market. 

Transcreation amended this issue by analysing the original German slogan to create a new English version with the same impact and intended meaning: ‘Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo!’ Cutting corners on vital brand identifiers like slogans by sticking to traditional translation could risk losing all of their meaning. A marketing campaign may simply fail to meet expectations, or worst, the brand’s reputation is negatively affected and the odds of success are compromised in the target market.

Although transcreation can seem daunting since it takes more time and is more involved than conventional translation, it has been proven to be more successful. A real-world example of this would be the diamond corporation De Beers, which intended to begin marketing its diamonds in China in the 1990s. A direct translation of the English slogan “a diamond is forever” was what they originally intended to use. However, because the statement would have been misunderstood in Mandarin as “a diamond lasts forever,” rather than the intended connotation of a diamond as something one would want to retain forever, this would not have translated effectively. Consequently, the sentence was changed to, “a diamond is forever, it will always be handed down (to future generations)”. Due to the widespread use of poetic language in China, this was an immediate success and allowed De Beers to increase its visibility while avoiding embarrassment and confusion. By leveraging the power of transcreation, your campaign to reach out to your target audience and evoke their emotions and actions become less challenging.

When is transcreation used?

It is vital not to neglect the importance of transcreation when localising marketing campaigns, especially for slogans, humour, and logos. Besides properly adapting key brand identifiers, transcreation can also be used for landing pages, branding, taglines, advertisements, videos, and more.

When companies create global marketing campaigns, they recognise that different target markets have different cultures compared to the home market they are based in. Thus, their marketing materials need to be changed accordingly to have maximum impact. 

The advantages of transcreation for globalisation

There are numerous advantages to investing in transcreation, especially for global marketing campaigns. Brands can expect greater brand recognition worldwide as their ethos and message will not be misinterpreted or lost in translation, driving global sales and interest. 

The market interest gained will also be more positive and organic, which has a significantly positive impact on brand reputation. Consumers appreciate it when brands take care to specifically tailor to their needs and circumstances instead of just pushing campaigns that have no relevance to their everyday life.


With globalisation bringing about many advantages for businesses, such as greater economic growth, it is via transcreation that connects cultures through understanding. In today’s globally interconnected world, you cannot afford to not use transcreation services when launching an international marketing campaign. Companies must roll out campaigns that reach both the minds and hearts of their target consumers. Achieving a successful global marketing strategy, therefore, requires transcending language and cultural barriers, which are only possible through localisation and, most importantly, transcreation. 

If you wish to build lasting relationships with a diverse group of cultures and succeed on the world stage, the first step is to find a way to communicate effectively, which is what we at Eureka Translations excel at. As the leading translation service provider in Singapore, we are your one-stop shop for all your language translation needs! Contact us today or visit our offices for more details.

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