E.g., 04/08/2020
E.g., 04/08/2020

Transcreation – what is it?

By: Wordbank Limited

The industry speaks at the GALA Miami Conference

'Transcreation' has become a word much bandied around inside our industry. But what exactly is it, is it understood, and where should it be used?

Over the years, I have discussed transcreation many times with a wide range of people both inside and outside our business. From people outside the business, the response is typically a short, "you do what?" accompanied by a worried look or, "really? Er, excuse me, there is someone over there I need to talk to," while they beat a hasty retreat. Inside the business it appears to be a word heavily loaded with subtext:  "Oh dear, this is going to be expensive," or "these language services types sure do love their jargon." In public, I have learned to follow the word 'transcreation' with "let me give you an example…". Things can then proceed normally and indeed, transcreation regularly proves to be an interesting and engaging subject of conversation. To be fair, over recent years, a very definite market for transcreation has emerged and many LSPs large and small now offer transcreation services in some form or another. So the time seems right to try to get a proper answer to some of these questions from the industry. Fortunately, a perfect opportunity arose at this year's GALA Conference in Miami, as transcreation was already on the agenda. Over the course of three days we carried out six formal and several ad-hoc interviews around the conference with people in the business. I am sure that you will recognize many of the individuals who contributed. My thanks go to: Gary Muddyman of Conversis, Don DePalma of Common Sense Advisory, Gabriela Morales of Rosario Traducciones y Servicios, Meritxell Guitart and Miguel Martínez of Hogarth Worldwide, Lillian Alves Mautone of LocHouse, Robert Etches of TextMinded and Richard Estevez of Trusted Translations. I could give you a summary of the findings, but as we went to the trouble of making a video from the sessions, why not let the results speak for themselves … Maybe there is a lot more transcreation going on than many might think? You would expect companies like Hogarth Worldwide and my company, Wordbank, to be doing this sort of thing. However, it may come as news that transcreation is now being delivered by a wide range of LSPs, and not just in the obvious area of advertising slogans. Also, it seems that while the very low cost per word of MT translation is fuelling a mass-market uptake of translation, we are also seeing increasing demand for value-added translation services like transcreation and SEO-optimized translation at the other end of the spectrum. My own conclusion from all this is that as our industry and this market continue to mature, companies and brands are better able to truly localize both their offer and their communications to individual target audiences in each locale. Could localization be truly coming of age and becoming perceived more as a critical element of global marketing and less a process done by language professionals? Well don't hold your breath, but for sure the advent of services like transcreation cuts deeper into the heart of the matter and that can only be a good thing.


Gordon is an Anglo-Scot, living in London and Spain. He has more than 32 years' experience in successful international sales and marketing, consulting and business management, having worked for corporations such as BAe, EMI, GEC and Digital Equipment in Europe and the US. Gordon has been actively involved in the localization industry since 1995 and regularly publishes blogs on transcreation and global communication. An active and committed member of GALA, he is presently a partner, board member and Vice-president of Sales and Marketing at communications and advertising localization specialist Wordbank.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of GALA.