So, what is transcreation, you ask? It’s essentially a fancy buzzword for content that is translated to not only be grammatically correct in several languages, but also culturally relevant. It values the notion that literal translations, uninformed by cultural differences, can be disastrous (check out Aurore Joshi’s Weekly SEO Tip for some examples).
Building a program of this kind is no easy task. For one, it’s likely you’ll need to work with freelancers who live in far-flung locations. Another challenge lies in pleasing various stakeholders in the approval chain. You’ll need to employ the latest cloud and conferencing software to keep everyone in sync, and you’ll also have to set expectations with a solid plan from the get-go. The following advice should help you get well on your way:
Content standards or run-of-the-mill style guides are not enough to satisfy a demanding client with a complex project. For example, I’m currently managing a project that targets tourists headed to the FIFA World Cup. Brazil has exotic fruits, animals, and foods that aren’t well-known in other countries. Take the guarana fruit, for instance. Every Brazilian recognizes this fruit, as it is a main ingredient in soft drinks, but most others wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what it is or how it tastes. While you look silly explaining the fruit’s qualities to a Brazilian, you will find it necessary when addressing an English speaker. This isn’t rocket science, but culturally unique details that require an explanation can increase the resources you need to complete the job on a budget.
A question you should always ask first is, “Who will approve the work before it is published?” A best practice is to create content in the language of the final approver. Although subsequent translations of the original piece can get the job done, it’s very difficult to keep the allure of the first version. In circumstances with many approvers, it’s sometimes best to create original content for each language, rather than translate information to appeal to many styles and qualities.
It’s ideal to have a program manager who has a significant amount of experience with the target culture and continues to stay up-to-date on it. Just think about all the gaffes and controversies that occur on a weekly basis in the United States; cross-cultural conversations are even more prone to slip-ups. It’s very easy to get some egg on your face if you aren’t in touch with the zeitgeist of a country or culture.
Additionally, jumping into a multicultural project can be difficult without having an internal contact who can vet the freelance team’s ability to target different audiences. Every step of your workflow is important to produce a high-quality result. Be sure to take a breath to review each team member’s skills. Otherwise, team members down the chain will have to work harder to correct up-front shortcomings.
Much of the branded content Skyword creates contains links to support the client’s message. When working with multiple languages, be sure to have all the client’s links finalized before you start creating content. Having to redo each article is not only a drag on resources, but it also puts more stress on editors to include the promotion naturally.
Transcreation is evidence that, while most cultures are not fundamentally different, their tastes, styles of communication, and collective memory can be drastically so. That reminds me of buchada, a Brazilian pastry made from cow stomach and stuffed with innards. This Northeastern Brazilian treat recently came up in an article I was reviewing, and so I vaguely described it to the English audience as a “savory, stuffed tripe pastry.” On second thought, I probably could have left that out of the translation completely.
For more information on building up a transcreated content strategy, request a demo of Skyword.