4 Lessons for Transcreation
FOUR FOUR

Four Lessons To Help Brands Sing In Other Languages

Four Lessons To Help Brands Sing In Other Languages

In this post, which first appeared earlier this year on WARC’s news and opinion blog, our founder Catherine Barr shares the four golden rules of transcreation she learnt setting up creative translation agency franklyfluent.

As someone with a creative agency background – a world that worships at the altar of strategic and creative rigour – making the sideways step into brand translation was an eye-opener.

Of course I’d heard of the translation horror stories – like when Clairol launched its revolutionary ‘mist’ curling stick in Germany (‘mist’ means ‘manure’ in German). But, when you wade in deeper it’s apparent that a less amusing epidemic has taken root within the industry: a swell of brands carelessly leaking potential customers by not giving localisation work the creative love that adland usually insists on.

You may know the kind – lines that sound somehow ‘off’ but you can’t put your finger on why (‘There’s so much fun in Toffifee’, anyone?). For me, ‘average’ is the real enemy – copy that’s not bad enough to make headlines, but nowhere near as impactful as the original.

This could be the difference between ‘Heinz: the definitive beans’, and ‘Beanz meanz Heinz’. Lines lacking in emotion and pazzazz are quickly rooted out in creative reviews regularly held in marketing agencies. But the simple truth is that when transcreation agencies engage talent who can’t hold a candle to the copywriters penning the originals, the non-English-speaking world is exposed to one more pale imitation – something not quite the original the brand manager thought they were signing their name to.

We’ve made it our mission to raise that bar, so that great work is great no matter what language. Here are the four golden rules we follow as an agency to make sure briefs are tight, and creative as impactful as the original.

 

1. Find the right talent

There are many people who speak more than one language. An infinitesimally small number of those are copywriters. And an even smaller number still is able to tap into the kind of problem-solving creativity that’s needed to transfer the emotion, texture and feel of an idea from one culture to another. It takes extreme skill and years of experience to bring to life the simple joy of, say, a chip butty for a nation of foodies like the French (quelle horreur!)

In short: speaking a second language is not qualification to translate. Whether you’re localising a promotional brochure or the next Superbowl blockbuster, you will always need the best writing talent you can find.

 

2. To produce creative agency-level work, apply creative agency principles
Agency copywriters have to walk over hot coals to earn their place in the creative department. They’ve undergone the ritual humiliation of portfolio crits. They’ve put in the long nights when the Creative Director said it just wasn’t good enough. They’ve had to prove their ability to craft ideas against the toughest of briefs time and time again. It follows that the people entrusted with bringing those ideas to life in a new language must also prove their mettle.

So, if you want to produce creative agency-level work, apply creative agency principles. Review portfolios. Meet writers. Challenge them. Give them a headline riddled with wordplay and Briticisms (we’re fond of seeing cockney rhyming slang come to life in Japanese/French/Vietnamese). How talent rise to this challenge will quickly sort the good from the average.

 

3. Be faithful to how the original feels
The translator’s job is to be faithful to the original idea and evoke its sentiment and feel. Not show how brilliantly they think they could have written it in the first place.

Strategic rigour plays a crucial role at this point. Cue your account managers who, in transcreation just as in creative agencies, need to be able to rally the team and navigate stubborn personalities in the creative department to make sure what gets to client is not just brilliant, but on brief.

 

advertising transcreation - VW Beetle Cabriolet
4. Context is everything
Translation is rarely as simple as moving from A to B. Landing on just the right combination of words to translate the feel of the original is a delicate alchemy, whose ingredients also include the visuals and the surrounding context.

So dispelling ambiguity for the localisation team is the order of the day.

As a marketer you know your own brand inside-out, but your translation team probably doesn’t. And copy, taken out of context, can take on new meanings. Just ask the team working on the headline for a new VW softtop launch (‘topless’, you say?)

Keep them on target and on-side by briefing them as thoroughly as possible. That means sharing your audience insights (maybe they’re a sucker for a cheeky – but PG-rated – quip). It means providing the visuals (maybe you’re using a new super-slim digital format that only allows for short words). They’ll be thankful for it, and you’ll be thankful you didn’t end up with an ad that says ‘bare-breasted’ in five different languages.

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What data?

while browsing our website

While you’re on our website, we may collect, store and use information about your computer and about your visits to and use of this website, including your IP address, geographical location, browser type and version, operating system, referral source, length of visit, page views and website navigation paths.

as a consultant, contractor or talent who works with us

If you complete our talent application form, we’ll store information about you and your skills in order to keep a record of your abilities and to assess fitness for any projects we may want to work on together. We’ll keep this record and make continued efforts to ensure it remains up-to-date and accurate for as long as we deem it useful from a business perspective, or until you ask us to stop and to delete the information we hold about you. This data may include your name, email address, telephone number, your language skills and competencies, your country of residence, any information you include in your covering note and any notes we make ourselves, a copy of your CV and/or portfolio and/or work samples, and a link to your profile on LinkedIn and/or any other third-party websites.

Before we work together, it’s likely you’ll be asked to read our consultant agreement and confirm that you agree with the terms it sets out. When you confirm your agreement, you’ll be asked to provide some information that we’ll store to record and confirm your agreement. This includes your name, email, telephone number, address, as well as the IP address of your connection.

When we work together, we’ll store a record of the projects we collaborate on, including information about the work itself such as associated purchase orders, and how the work went. Invoices that you share with the franklyfluent team will be processed for payment and kept in archives for historical referencing for as long as we’re legally required to. Your invoices are likely to include personal information about you and how you would like to be paid, including your bank or payment details. We’ll share only the information that we need to with relevant third parties – bookkeeping partners, accounting partners and payment providers – to make sure you get paid correctly and in a timely manner.

as a client or prospective client

We retain records of our clients and prospective clients in order to service our clients properly and for new business and marketing purposes. This means we keep our database up-to-date with information such as the name, email, company, notes, and contact reports of clients and prospective clients. We’ll keep this information and make continued efforts to ensure it remains up-to-date and accurate for as long as we deem it useful from a business perspective, or until you ask us to stop and to delete the information we hold about you.

Why do we do it?

We process personal information for certain legitimate business purposes, which include some or all of the following:

Whenever we process data for these purposes we will ensure that we always keep your personal data rights in high regard and take account of these rights. You have the right to object to this processing if you wish, and if you wish to do so please contact us using the details at the bottom of this notice.

If you’ve applied to us via our talent application form or confirmed you agree with the terms set out in our consultant agreement, we will have asked for your consent for us to store and process your personal information.

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We take reasonable technical and organisational precautions to prevent the loss, misuse or alteration of your personal information. You acknowledge that the transmission of information over the internet is inherently insecure, and we cannot guarantee the security of data sent over the internet.

International data transfers

Information that we collect may be stored and processed in and transferred between any of the countries in which we operate in order to enable us to use the information in accordance with this policy. Some of the third-party partners we work with, such as our database hosts, store our files in global locations. Rest-assured that we have endeavoured to collect commitments and reassurances from all of the partners we work with that all franklyfluent data is stored and processed in ways that are compliant with the EU’s GDPR guidance.

Disclosure of personal information

We may disclose your personal information to our employees, officers, insurers, professional advisers, agents, suppliers, clients or subcontractors insofar as reasonably necessary for the purposes set out in this policy. We might do this: a) to help identify if you are a suitable candidate, and to contact you in reference to any projects that we are carrying out on behalf of our clients; b) to the extent that we are required to do so by law in connection with any ongoing or prospective legal proceedings, or in order to establish, exercise or defend our legal rights, or to our client (or prospective client).

You may ask to see a copy of the personal information, if any, we hold about you by contacting us using the details at the bottom of this notice. In order for us to disclose any personal information, we’ll be required to verify your identity, and so may ask you to provide proof of your identity.

If you have a concern about our, or any organisation’s, information rights practices, report a complaint in the UK to the supervisory body: the ICO.

About us

This website is owned and operated by franklyfluent ltd. We are registered in England and Wales under registration number 9174563, and our registered office is at 45 Vyner Street, London E2 9DQ. Our ICO registration reference is ZA238716. If you would like to discuss any part of this notice or our data policies, or would like your personal data to be added, amended or removed from our records, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can contact us by writing to the business address given above, by telephone (+44 (0)207 287 1377), or by email (chat@franklyfluent.com).

Terms of business

Franklyfluent ltd is a company registered in England and Wales under Company Number 9174563 whose registered office is at 45 Vyner Street, London E2 9DQ (“Agency”).

INTRODUCTION:

  1. The Client wishes to purchase and the Agency wishes to provide a range of Services and Deliverables, which are described in one or more Scopes of work or Cost estimates.
  2. Except in the case of a pre-existing, mutually-agreed Framework Agreement, both parties agree that these Services and Deliverables will be supplied in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.

When we enter into business with each other, it’s agreed that:

  1. ‘Client’ means the person, firm, organisation, statutory or corporate body, together with any subsidiary or associated undertaking, for whom the Agency has agreed to provide the Services in accordance with these terms and conditions of business.
  2. ‘Services’ means marketing services, copy and content production, cultural consultation, translation, transcreation, artworking, production and/or any other associated services required by the Client and specified on the Cost estimate and/or Scope of work supplied by the Agency and approved by the Client.
  3. ‘Source material’ means any documents, materials, text, images, graphics, photographs, designs, data, or other information provided by the Client to the Agency relating to the Services.
  4. ‘Deliverable’ means the document(s) and/or asset(s) provided by the Agency to the Client resulting from the Services.
  5. ‘Cost estimate’ or ‘Scope of work’ means the sheet in which details of the required services and their estimated costs are specified for any campaign(s) or project(s) within a given period of time.

SUPPLY OF SERVICES

  1. If the Services are booked via telephone or email, the Client shall in writing to the Agency acknowledge the Client’s acceptance of the Services and charges outlined in the Cost estimate or Scope of work before the Agency undertakes any work on their behalf. Where appropriate, a PO for the total amount outlined in the Cost estimate should issued by the Client to the Agency before work commences. Any changes or additions to the Services or these terms and conditions must be agreed in writing by both parties.
  2. The Client at its own expense will supply the Agency with all necessary Source material within sufficient time to enable the Agency to provide the Services. The Client will be responsible for and therefore ensure the accuracy of all Source material.
  3. The Agency is entitled to sub-contract or otherwise outsource all or any part of the Services to any third party it selects and will be under no obligation to notify the Client of either the selection of such third party or any subsequent change to the identity of the selected third party.

INTENDED USAGE

  1. The Client shall clearly indicate the intended use of the Deliverable or other consequence of the Services. The Agency will endeavour to ensure the Deliverable or other consequence of the Services is of sufficient standard for such use by the Client.

CHARGES AND PAYMENT TERMS

  1. All accounts are net of VAT and due as specified in the Cost estimate or Scope of work. All accounts are due upon delivery of the Deliverable. The Client shall pay such charges via bank transfer with any charges for such assumed by the Client within 30 days of the date of invoice issued for the Services.
  2. Payment of invoices outside these terms will be subject to the remedies contained within the provision of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (as amended and supplemented by the Late Payment of Commercial Depts. Regulations 2002), which includes interest and compensation.
  3. Changes or other amendments required by the Client following the completion of the Services are liable to reasonable additional charges.

DELIVERY

  1. Any date agreed between the parties for delivery is given as an estimate. The Agency will on a best-effort basis undertake to meet such date.
  2. In the event of Force Majeure (Strike, Lockout, Industrial Dispute, Civil Commotion, Natural Disaster, Acts of War and any other situation which can be shown to have materially affected the Agency’s ability without fault to meet the terms of a contract with the Client as agreed), the Agency shall notify the Client without delay, indicating the circumstances. Force Majeure shall entitle both the Agency and the Client to terminate the Services, but in such event, the Client shall pay the Agency for any and all work already completed. The Agency will in such an occasion use reasonable endeavours to assist the Client to place its commission elsewhere.
  3. Delivery of the Deliverable to the Client is deemed to have taken place upon posting or delivery to a carrier, or transmission by email or Internet, and the risk shall then pass to the Client.
  4. The Agency will endeavour to retain a copy of the Deliverable for archiving purposes only.
  5. Following delivery, if the Client has not given written notice to the Agency that the Deliverable is not satisfactory within 10 working days to the Client, the Client shall be deemed to have accepted and approved the Services and the Deliverable and the Agency shall have no liability for any defect in the quality of the Deliverable or failure to correspond with the Cost estimate or Scope of work, and the Client shall be bound to pay the Agency as if the Deliverable had been satisfactorily supplied.
  6. In accordance with the preceding clause, as a result of any error or omission in work undertaken by the Agency, the Agency will, as its option, either re-produce the work or compensate the Client, in which case the Agency shall be limited to such liability as is covered by its professional indemnity insurance policy terms, and in no event shall liability exceed the amount of the fee charged to the Client in respect of the Services, or £250,000, whichever is the lesser, provided that such fee has been paid to the Agency and provided the work has been used by the Client for the purpose indicated to the Agency.

CANCELLATION

  1. Upon the Client booking the Services, the Client will be entitled to cancel the Services subject to written notice. The Client will pay for any Services confirmed at the time of termination of the Services, and the Agency will subsequently confirm in writing the final costs and expenses due.

CONFIDENTIALITY

  1. The nature of the work performed and any information transmitted to the Agency by the Client is confidential. The Agency shall not without the prior consent of the Client divulge or otherwise disclose such information to any person other than authorised employees or authorised subcontractors of the Agency whose job performance requires such disclosure. The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to the extent that the Agency is required by law to divulge such information or to the extent that such information is or becomes a matter of public knowledge other than by disclosure by the Agency.

COPYRIGHT

  1. Without prior written agreement to the contrary, copyright in the Deliverable will vest in the Agency and the Client, upon payment of all outstanding charges to the Agency for the Services, is granted an exclusive licence to exploit the Deliverable to the extent of the usage terms originally agreed in preparing the Cost estimate or Scope of work.

INSURANCE

  1. The Agency shall maintain professional indemnity insurance policies to the value sufficient to meet its liabilities under this Agreement. Upon the Client’s reasonable request the Agency will provide the Client with evidence that such insurance is in place.

ENTIRE AGREEMENT

  1. These terms and conditions are governed by and shall be construed in accordance with the law of England and Wales and are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales.
  2. Both Agency and Client acknowledge and agree that in entering into these terms and conditions they have not relied on any representation or warranty or undertaking other than those expressly set out herein and, except in relation to any liability for fraudulent misrepresentation, neither party shall be under any liability or shall have any remedy (including the avoidance of these terms and conditions) to the other in respect of any representation or statement which is not expressly prescribed by these terms and conditions.