Picture this: you’re an executive at an on-demand streaming service, and you just scored a significant win. Thanks to you, your company now has international streaming rights for the latest hit TV drama. Congratulations! Just one problem: this show’s title is based on a phrase that only exists in American English.
You know that in order to successfully translate the title into another language, you need more than a simple-for-word translation. To retain the same impact – you need something more.
Many marketers find themselves in a similar position. They successfully launched a campaign in the US only to have it fall flat when launched internationally. The problem? Their marketing communications need to be re-envisioned (and not merely translated) for international use.
Movie titles are notoriously difficult to get right.
How in the heck do you translate “Orange Is the New Black” into Arabic?!
We all know (or think we know!) what “orange is the new black” refers to, but let’s break it down. When someone is referring to a specific color as being “the new black,” they are describing it as the latest fashionable, must-wear color. This phrase only makes sense to someone who has digested fashion-adjacent media.
In the show Orange is the New Black, the main character is a privileged woman who enters a woman’s prison. She is trading in her fashionable (black) clothes for an orange prison uniform. A non-English speaker would not think a direct word-for-word translation of the show’s title is clever or catchy without that information. A more culturally aware translation is needed to capture the spirit of the title.
A nuanced solution: transcreation
Cultural resonance is key in communicating across the globe, and it’s essential to find a way to convey the original intent behind your idea and emotionally connect with your target audience. Cultural resonance is easier said than done, especially when multiple markets and languages are involved in a campaign or product launch. The path forward is through transcreation. Transcreation is the act of capturing the nuance and often reimagining your creative content in another language.
What content needs Transcreation?
Content like marketing content, advertising campaigns, taglines, film titles, and other creative materials often require transcreation. These types of content rely on cultural understanding and need a more nuanced transcription to resonate with audiences.
The common denominator: these types of materials are written within the creator’s cultural context, often using slang, memes, and popular cultural cues that are unique to one single locale or country.
An example of transcreation work we have done on marketing material is the work we did for ÜLLO. ÜLLO is a wine filtration system whose playful tagline is Do-ÜLLO (pronounced “do-you-lo”). Our team worked hard to transcreate it in a way that communicated the intended idea as well as the brand’s cheeky spirit.
It’s essential to keep in mind that not all marketing materials require transcreation. Standard translations work perfectly well for universally understood concepts independent of cultural context.
But the text that includes references specific to the original creator’s culture, history, or language will require special attention for the sake of clarification. For example, the meme behind the title of the famous American TV show Orange is the New Black.
The Act of Transcreation
One client (a large streaming company) needed us to transcreate hundreds of English (and other language) movie titles into Arabic. We followed these steps to provide our client with a list of title options for their service.
1. Learn about the project and gather information
We start by reviewing creative briefs and style guides, brand voice documents, prior localized content, supporting video materials, instructions, and other information. We do further research to understand the target audience, intent and tone of the original text, any addressed pain points for a good foundation for transcreation.
2. Brainstorm ideas
Our bilingual copywriters and editors brainstorm initial ideas. Depending on the need, we might involve several people on our team at this stage.
3. Share our initial ideas with you for feedback
The team creates two or three versions of the target idea. Each option includes a back-translation and rationale for word choice, thus allowing you to see how we’ve transcreated the new copy, and importantly, explain our translation choices.
4. Receive feedback and share the final version with you
Throughout the process, we prioritize regular communication to ensure we convey your original intent in the final product.
To confirm we’re on the right track, we will share progress updates with you before sending you our finished product.
Why our team works – creativity through multiple perspectives and ideas
Our network includes professional translators fluent in over 75 languages, and our extensive network means we are ready to handle all of our clients’ projects. Having multiple perspectives and ideas in the collaborative creative process is essential. It is also why each transcreation project team includes a project lead, a linguist, a writer, and others. Using the same team members in each part of the creation stage, closes the loop in high-touch marketing content situations.
Our flexibility in partnering and adapting to our clients’ technologies and processes is a strength. Unlike in Field of Dreams, where Ray Kinsella hears “If you build it, they will come”, our approach is that when our clients come to us with particular needs, we build custom teams to support them.
For this steaming account, we recruited our team of Arabic-fluent experts from across the Middle East to ensure we represented multiple voices in our ongoing movie title and marketing transcreation work. Our recruitment efforts, together with our skilled project management, ensured that our film title transcreations would connect with the Arabic-speaking audience members our client was trying to reach.
Reliable Transcreation From Multilingual Connections
Through crafting the right worldwide team and our refined, proven transcreation process, Multilingual Connections will help propel your marketing communication initiatives forward across countries, cultures, and languages and help you create the connections and engagement you need to expand your reach..
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