Content Transcreation

August 09, 2017

Transcreation is the process of adapting a message from one language into another language while preserving the message's intent, context and creativity. When a company wants to go global, it is important to have content translated into the languages being used in the target countries. However, more often than not, translation alone might not be enough to attract customers, and this is where transcreation comes in.


Transcreation plays an indispensable role in digital marketing because different countries have different languages and cultures. It is necessary to not only translate the content into the target country's language, but also to adapt and customize the content to the preferences of the target audience. You need to think about how to create the message in a way that will engage your audience.

Why Transcreation Matters


As an illustration, let's consider digital marketing for Chinese cuisine. If you translate every specialty dish directly from Chinese into another language, many of the dishes will probably be too suspicious sounding or unappetizing for most people to order. People may end up playing it safe by ordering hot and sour soup or sweet and sour pork, because direct translations of Chinese specialties that appear on the menu as insects or rare animals are a line that many customers simply won't cross.


Many Chinese dish names are derived from a story from the local culture. For example, there is a Chinese dish whose literal English equivalent is "lion head meatball." These meatballs are not lion meat, they are pork stewed with Napa cabbage. The name was given by a government official in ancient China because the shapes of the meatballs looked like the heads of the stone lions that were placed in front of traditional Chinese homes to guard the household.


Many dish names are not even remotely related to the food being served. Therefore, when translating this type of content, accurate descriptions of the dishes depend heavily on cultural knowledge. Literal translations simply will not work.


When a literal translation does not work, the communication bridge is closed. Think about what information needs to be passed to the target audience, and then how to pass that information on in a way that is easily understandable (and when it comes to literal translation of some Chinese dishes, not unappetizing).



Translation connects us even though we do not all speak the same language. It helps us understand other cultures better and enables us to more effectively embrace differences. However, sometimes literal translations might confuse us. This is where transcreation can play a fundamental role. When it comes to marketing, we always have to remember the core message we would like to convey and take into consideration the target audience's culture, language preference, style and emotions. The most important goal is to reach out to a wider audience and ensure that they understand and can relate to your brand's message.

Additional GPI Resources


You may gain further insights into global e-business, global SEO, website translation, country specific cultural facts and related topics by reviewing some previous blogs and resources written by GPI:



Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our language and technology services.  Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs.  You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.

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Daniela has over 16 years' experience in the translation, localization and language instruction professions. She holds a degree in Sworn, Literary, Technical, and Scientific Translation from the Instituto Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario, Argentina. Starting her career as a translator for English-Spanish/Spanish-English in 1990 over the years she has worked for several Localization Agencies as a translator, assistant project manager and senior project manager. She has completed a wide range of professional certifications in document and website localization with emphasis on translation, budgeting, quality control and project management including The Localization Institute’s Triple Certification in Localization Project Management (Localization Institute Chico, CA, USA). She has managed a wide variety of document, website, software and audio-video localization projects utilizing different Translation Management Systems (TMS), Translation Memory (TM) and I18n and L10n tool suites.