Level up your global brand identity with transcreation


Friday April 26, 2024 - Posted by:

How adding a dash of creative freedom can level up your global brand identity

A dash of creative freedom to level up your global brand identity

Businesses constantly grapple to find new and efficient ways to communicate with diverse audiences across different cultures and languages. Translation remains a crucial communication tool for conveying information accurately, although often at times it falls short when it comes down to capturing the nuances, emotions, and cultural references that resonate with local audiences.

This is where transcreation steps in, offering a powerful solution to connect with international audiences on a meaningful level. Think of it as the bridge between languages and cultures, ensuring your message not only arrives safely on the other side but resonates deeply with your target market. 

While referencing the source message, transcreation gives linguists creative freedom to take the spirit of the message, and recreate using local concepts and terminology that carry the same intent and impact, but may not use the original words or phrases. 

What is transcreation? 

Transcreation, short for translation + creation, is a specialised tool that goes beyond literal word-for-word conversion. Unlike traditional translation, which focuses on mechanics like grammar and syntax, transcreation prioritises the bigger picture: cultural context, tone, and emotional impact, making it particularly effective for marketing and advertising content.

Here’s how to get your head around the differences:




Retains original meaning and structure.

Prioritises creativity and cultural relevance over linguistic fidelity.

Often starts with source text.

Often starts with a creative brief.

Cost-effective approach.

Requires more resources.

Constrained by the source text and need for accuracy.

Creative freedom for rewrites, image modification or altering the overall concept.

Makes content accessible to a new audience.

Focuses on audience engagement and emotional resonance.

For content where accuracy and precision are necessary.

 For marketing and advertising where creativity and cultural sensitivity are key.


The art of balancing accuracy and creativity

One of the key challenges in transcreation is striking the delicate balance between faithfully conveying the original message and creatively adapting it for a new audience. Transcreators need to be cultural chameleons, possessing a deep understanding of both the source and target cultures. 

Bosch: #LikeABosch


A great example of complex transcreation is ‘Like a Bosch’ campaign, which leverages the play on words of the catchphrase ‘Like A Boss’. This tagline is impossible to transcreate and is left in English globally, but the script also has a lot of complexity, as it is a bespoke rap in the backing track, which references features and elements related to the product, while inserting humorous elements and rhyme.  

To take this campaign internationally is a complex transcreation challenge. The script needs to be entirely reworked to meet the local language requirements, while retaining the same pacing and rhythm, and incorporating locally relevant concepts and humour to connect with international audiences. 

Like A Bosch – French version
Like A Bosch – Spanish version
Like A Bosch – Vietnamese version 

Bosch has been able to successfully adapt this campaign into multiple markets, and produced regional variations of the shoot (Americas vs EMEA vs APAC), which were then overlaid with local market voice over. 

Colgate: “Real white smiles are also for real people”

Colgate: "Real white smiles are also for real people"

Colgate: “Real white smiles are also for real people”

Colgate hit the mark with their inclusive campaign for Max White ULTRA Real white smiles are also for real people. However, spreading this message across the globe was not free of obstacles. Adapting the campaign to 16 languages required not only localising, but transcreating straplines, scripts, landing pages, and ad copy. Using digital video, display banners, and social ad campaigns as primary formats, Colgate managed to convey its message effectively, encouraging young adults around the world to embrace their gappy teeth.

HubSpot: “Grow Better”

The images show a versioned asset by Hubspot, showing a woman dresses as a pirate and sayings: 'Scale your business across the seven seas', 'Hubspot took my business from ughh to arghh' and 'Irealised there's a kinder, nicer way to blow my competition out of the water'.

HubSpot: “Grow Better”

Building on its existing Grow Better platform, HubSpot launched its first multi-market brand campaign in 2022. Drawing on much of the work that had been activated within the US, the new initiative extended its reach to six new markets, including France, Japan, and Australia. Given the creative and humorous nature of many taglines, which often addressed specific pain points and terminologies linked to their platform, product knowledge and copy transcreation became essential. 

The choice of a more creative approach helped reinforce their key message: the impact of a powerful yet user-friendly CRM, and the use of hyper-local geo-references to the area’s where the OOH activations were launched, helped to drive local market engagement with important B2B audiences. 

Despite these three success stories, let us not forget that the balance can also be precarious. Sometimes overemphasising creativity can distort the original message, leading to confusion or in more unfortunate cases offence. Imagine a safety brochure with a lighthearted tone in the source language being transcreated with excessive humour in the target language. This could downplay the seriousness of the safety measures. Transcreation specialists must ensure accuracy and cultural effectiveness go hand in hand.


When should I use it?

Taglines: Slogans are a brand’s handshake to the world, conveying both its identity and values in a concise yet impactful way. But a literal translation in a foreign market can weaken this first impression. By adapting slogans for cultural relevance, brands ensure they evoke the desired emotions and associations.

Creative Campaigns: Ads rely heavily on creativity and emotional appeal to capture the attention and interest of consumers. By infusing local nuances and cultural references into scripts and complex messaging, you make sure jokes land, references resonate, and the overall message feels authentic.

Digital Activations: From e-commerce campaigns, to CRM headlines, to brand building social media posts, digital communication channels provide endless opportunities for brands to engage with their audience. Transcreation ensures your brand voice isn’t lost in translation, but rather resonates on a deeper level, fostering a loyal global following.

Editorial: Often blogs and editorial content reference elements that only exist within the source language, and when taking it internationally, transcreators need to look for similar elements and references to rework into the copy to provide useful information to local markets and increase the chance for backlinks from local websites.


How Locaria helps global brands to tap into transcreation

Our transcreation experts have the experience and cultural knowledge to ensure locally tailored messages reach new audiences with impact. 

Our collaboration starts by understanding your campaign goals. After setting effective campaign objectives, our in-market content specialists join the table, offering culturally relevant insights. 

From brainstorming sessions to reviewing briefs, we work alongside you to identify ideas that hold international appeal, providing backtranslations and recommendations so that creative and content teams can understand how their source message will be changed. 

If something might not resonate globally, we’ll provide clear feedback and suggest transcreation or adaptation strategies to ensure your message achieves the desired impact across all cultures.

Check out our transcreation services or contact us to learn more about our approach.

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