The Little Transcreation Book that Could

TLBTI recently came across a teeny tiny book filled with great stories about transcreation. It is called, “The Little Book of Transcreation,” by Louise Humphrey, Amy Somers, James Bradley, and Guy Gilpin. The book really is little. It is barely 3″ wide by 4″ high. You can easily read it in one sitting. And you should.

The Little Book of Transcreation (gosh, I’m tempted to call it TLBT) has information about what transcreation is, why it is important, and when you should use it. Here is a sample definition from the book:

Transcreation takes into account the difference in context between the source and target version [of content]. This often means making cultural adjustments.

The book has real-life explanations of transcreation at its best. For example:

When McDonald’s decided to adapt its iconic “i’m lovin’ it!” tagline for the Chinese market, it opted against literal translation. This is because the word “love” in China is taken very seriously and never used lightly…As a result, McDonald’s opted for the line “I just like (it).” This is more normal, everyday vocab [sic] and is easier on the ears for a Chinese audience.

The book also has examples where transcreation should have been used. Here’s a fun one:

When Motorola launched its new Q phone in Canada, the campaign didn’t have quite the desired effect on French speakers. Unfortunately “Q” sounds like “cul” (“ass”) in French. So lines ┬ásuch as… “Si c’est important pour vous, c’est important pour votre Q.” …raised more than a few smiles.

The case studies really bring home the point. If you want to engage your customer, you need to be very mindful of that person’s language, culture, and expectations. Nothing beats a good case study.

Last, but certainly not least, The Little Book of Transcreation provides insight on how to ensure the success of transcreation. For example:

Any transcreation of marketing communications should always be signed off in the market where it will be used, by the relevant product manager.

I highly recommend putting this little book of big ideas on your book shelf – preferably someplace where it won’t get lost among the tomes. Download a .pdf of the book here. If you are like me, and would prefer a printed copy, click here.

Blog · Global Readiness · June 10, 2014



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