Tag Archives: transcreation

Social Media: Know Your Audience Part II

You should be aware by now that really knowing your audience is a key component of any successful social media campaign.

But what happens when cultural differences obscure your view or prevent your message from getting across? How can you make a meaningful connection with your audience when you don’t really understand them?

The fact is that you can’t understand an entire culture by googling it. That’s why you need to call in the experts – like us at Rhubarb Fool.

We have a network of creatives from around the world who don’t only translate and transcreate, but who also advise on the messages we’re sending out and how they will resonate with our target markets.

Something can be catchy and clear in English, but confusing or even offensive in another language, or to another culture. That’s why it’s imperative that you collaborate with the experts to ensure that you

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really do know your audience as well as you think you do.

A really obvious example is how you might omit any images that show a lot of skin to tailor a product for the Middle Eastern market. But that’s not where it ends – the other day in the office we had a discussion with our Arabic copywriter about the overtones of the word ‘revolution’ and how our audience might read it.

In short – it’s not just the words that need transcreating, but the campaign as a whole.

Another culture in which this is particularly important to bear in mind is Chinese. As well as the quirks that come

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with any individual society, there are whole different social media networks to bear in mind.

RenRen was set up in 2005, and is a Facebook-like social network that tends to be used by younger generations – students and teens. After launching a new mobile app in late 2013, it increased its register users to a huge 194 million and reached 54 million monthly active users.

Weibo is the most popular social network in China by far, with around 280 million active users and 500 million registered users. It’s a globally significant network that’s ahead of the tech curve – many western celebrities and organisations have Weibo accounts, and it rolled out its multimedia functions before Twitter.

You might worry about the fact that censorship seems to have deterred some users – but the worldwide popularity of social media shows no sign of abating, so you simply can’t ignore a whole demographic on this basis alone. And these are just two of the most popular Chinese social networks to consider.

The only way to really be sure which network, angle, or approach will work best for your campaign is to consult with the experts.

Like we say here at Rhubarb Fool – listen, create, communicate.

The Importance of Transcreation

At Rhubarb Fool, one of our main priorities is to provide content that is not only informative and that gets your brand message across, but that engages and inspires. The more positive associations customers have with your brand and services, the better.

But what about the foreign markets that we specialise in? How do we leap over that language barrier? It doesn’t matter how perfectly honed a piece of writing is in English if none of the message and clever creativity survives the translation process.

Enter Transcreation. As a process it’s a step beyond translation, in which the content is developed or adapted to better suit the target market. With bog-standard translation, the words will sit prone on the page and not quite resonate with the audience (rather like an Englishman fumbling through a foreign phrasebook!), but transcreated content will have been specifically adapted and ‘re-created’ for the market, resulting in a tailored message that has lost none of its potency for the language change.

Different demographics don’t just have different languages – these completely different cultures have quirks, customs, and concerns that are as unique as the countries they hail from. Our content isn’t created in a cultural vacuum – in order to consolidate a truly effective marketing strategy, these nuances must be taken into consideration. Otherwise, how can the message actually get across – how can it appeal at all?

Some definitions of Transcreation may vary – but it essentially means the act of translating creatively and sensitively. Translating more than words, but the message too. Supposedly the term developed in the computer and video game industry, as people developed a way to successfully market games to different demographics by changing images and storylines as well as the language. This makes sense –the experience of gameplay itself is far more important than simply the language it’s in. Humour and cultural references are far from homogenous and simply cannot be understood by all, even if the words themselves make sense.

Nowadays, transcreation is a term more commonly applied in the context of marketing and advertising. In order to maintain content’s impact across local markets, the larger message and ‘feel’ of the brand must also be translated as well as the words. Therefore, the process of transcreation most often represents a hybrid of new content, adapted content, imagery, and simple translation.

Although other terms are occasionally used to describe this process, such as ‘marketization’, ‘cultural adaptation’, ‘multilingual copywriting’, ‘marketing translation’ and ‘adaptation of marketing materials’ amongst others, transcreation is our favourite. It reflects the composite nature of the process, and the creativity that is so key to its success.

The types of projects that most require translation tend to be web campaigns that aren’t attracting customers in other markets, content that features wordplay and humour that is specific to one language or

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culture, and products and services that need to be marketed to diverse demographics within the same market. In short, just the sorts of projects that we at Rhubarb Fool have bucket loads of experience with.

With our carefully selected transcreators, we have the ability to plug the cultural gaps, so to speak, and ensure that the correct message is positively received by the intended audience without compromising on the original’s integrity. As we increasingly turn our gaze towards international markets, the process of transcreation is ever growing in importance. Without it, brands are at risk of getting lost in the ever-busy marketplace.

Rhubarb Fool, harpers bazaar

10 Must-dos In Translating Content

Choose your translators carefully!

Obvious, right? But this simple rule is something that we’ve seen the majority of translation houses choose to ignore. Let Rhubarb Fool offer some simple tips that will help you generate high quality translated material for your clients.

Make sure the glove fits

If you’re translating copy to publish in an high-end, consumer retail publication; then be sure you use an editor with experience of high-end retail publications. At Rhubarb Fool we won’t actually work with translators as they often take a one dimensional approach to copy. Rather, we work with editors who adapt the copy. By doing this we are able to …

Avoid the one-size fits all approach

The majority of our competitors appear to use the same translator for a highly-technical manual, as they would use for an advertisement from a fashion house.

Keep it simple

Flowery language, and clever over-complicated sentences only complicate matters when it comes to translation and what sounds sophisticated in one language can sound stupid in another. Keep it simple and employ a translator who not only is thoroughly bi-lingual, but can also write to the standard required.

Layout

When it comes to laying out copy, do not assume your in-house designer can do this unless they are fluent in the language they are working with. Sure build templates in house. But don’t overlook the flow of the adapted copy. Line-breaks or words slashed in half can alter meaning, ruin text. And to the visitor just look plain wrong.

A font of all knowledge

Rely on your native page designer to advise you on the best font to use for the closer approximation of the look and feel you are trying to achieve.

House of Fraser or Fraser’s Home

Translating brand names and addresses is a complicated matter. Some of the big brands, Harrods for example, are so well known that their name has been adapted all over the world. Smaller brands? Not so much. In Korean the translation of Woolworth will literally mean the value of wool.

Phonetic Translation, to use or not to use

It is worth using phonetic translation though so even if the meaning is nonsense the sound once pronounced can sound startingly similar.

Where the devil lurks

You would use a proofreader for the work you do for your own market right? So don’t skimp on employing a separate native proofreader. The devil is always lurking in the detail. At Rhubarb Fool we don’t only use native editors to translate, we use separate native editors to proof as well.

Text revisions are expensive

Often a translation house will have a minimum charge for translating content. So don’t expect your seven word tagline to cost 7 x cost per word.

Use Google translate

Of course you shouldn’t, but sometimes if you want to check that the right piece of text has been laid out in the right part of the feature this

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can assist. Let’s say you have an image caption or pull-quote for example. There’s no crime in using Google translate to check. Once you do the translation you’ll soon see how hit and miss the service can be. But nonetheless, it can give a rough idea.

Remember time zones

Calling your translation house and saying I need this amend done immediately might be possible, but only depending on the time zone. No-body wants to get an urgent request when they’re off to bed.

Hold firm

Use a translator you know and trust. In China and across the middle east there are so many regional dialects that getting the occasional letter from the client saying “I have run your translation past my daughter’s Chinese friends and she says you shouldn’t phrase it like that!” Where is the daughter from? What dialect is she using. Language is a fluid thing. There are a thousand ways to convey a meaning, an essence. There is on the other hand only one way to be grammatically correct.

Rhubarb Fool has adapted text for companies such as Westfield, Selfridges, Morris Visitor Publications, Harrods, Harpers Bazaar and benefits from having established a network of editors across the world.