Many ways to describe marketing translation: adaptation and transcreation into English – creative translation for marketing purposes

ADAPTATION, TRANSCREATION, CREATIVE TRANSLATION, or what?

No matter what we call it, it’s about the creative and imaginative work done in translation – that special something that gets you better results.

Effective marketing translation always needs a little extra thought and creativity. That’s where I shine..

Sometimes you find the right person straight away.

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Good marketing translators or transcreators are naturally copywriters and strategists, too

Good marketing translators or transcreators need to be able to listen, think for themselves, and advise their clients. I’m a German-to-English translator and English-native copywriter with marketing skills – and this is the niche where I’ve settled, enjoying my cosy life in the valley between copywriting and translation.

Strategy is a big part of what I do. Sometimes we have to start over from scratch – this demands research and the corresponding discussions and agreements with the client. In many cases, I provide a number of options to choose from, explaining my choices so the client can follow my logic.

No matter whether your wordplay or cultural reference can be translated directly into English or not, you’re always in safe hands with a creative native like me. Rest assured that the right questions will be asked and clarified to ensure your message hits the target – and your international audience feels inspired to action.

* On English and its variants: Yes, I’m British. But as a techie, I have extensive experience with US English, too. I’ve worked with big US brands from Silicon Valley, and they’ve always been impressed. But if it’s something a little more particular, I can always consult an American colleague or experts from other countries.

TranslatorTranscreator Copywriter Listener Consultant Strategist

What’s the difference between an adaptation and a “normal” translation?

In technical or legal translations, it is important that the words are translated accurately – to the letter. With marketing translations, adaptations or transcreations, it’s more about the message.

Linguistic, cultural and even economic or political differences can render a direct translation into English is impossible. In these cases, you have to come up with something new in English and explain your solution to the client, where required.

Sometimes we have to start over from scratch – this demands research and there’ll be a need to discuss it all with the client.

In many cases, I provide a number of options to choose from, explaining my choices so the client can follow my logic. This can happen with individual sentences or paragraphs, even mid-flow, like a random trap thrown into a forest of easy translation.

Adaptation requires expertise

The translation of major taglines (British: slogans, German: Claims), headlines, advertising campaigns and most branding documents always demand copywriting skills.

But even longer texts for brochures, websites, videos and other marketing materials usually need a degree of creativity and writing skills to achieve the best possible results.

Why transcreation isn't always transcreation

The terms “creative translation”, “adaptation”, and especially “transcreation” have unfortunately been watered down through extensive misuse. The big translation agencies and some colleagues often use these terms as synonyms for a good translation – essentially, any translation where people aren’t translating word-for-word.

But even if the descriptions sound good, the results rarely meet customer expectations. And that’s when they come to me. My clients have often received poorly edited machine translations, even when they forked out the extra cash for a supposedly high-quality translation, or even a “transcreation”.

Learn more about the reasons why I never work with translation agencies on my Translation page. Learn more about the reasons why my clients prefer to work with me on my Testimonials page.

Quality makes the difference

The real difference lies not in the way a translator, translation agency, copywriter or content agency describes their services, but in the quality of the services themselves.

Example project: Tagline – sustainability sector

A tagline for an international B2C company in the sustainability sector included a clever play on words around the German word “gebraucht”, used in the sense of “necessary” and “second-hand” goods. This tagline needed to be transcreated with a good sense of purpose and intent.

I worked with the client to clarify the nature of the brand and our objectives. Then I worked in two rounds, developing appropriate suggestions with my arguments in favour of each, along with any other considerations.

The successful suggestion ultimately had nothing to do with “second-hand”, or “needed” – because ultimately my fresh ideas worked better in English.

Example project: Cornerstone content – solar technology sector

A regular client in the solar technology sector wanted to publish some important content in English for the UK’s English-speaking market.

Many texts or at least parts of them were easy to translate without too much adaptation involved. Other parts had to be re-researched for the UK market, and addapted accordingly. Then there were other texts that had to be rewritten from scratch.

I also offered valuable SEO, UX, and design tips to help my client get the most out of everything.

Example project: Book – urban development sector

A coffee-table book on a well-known Berlin urban development project contained several snappy headlines with clever wordplay in German. These were transcreated into English with equal flair, carefully creating the same premium feel.

Parts relating to Berlin’s history and culture also had to be adapted and explained in English to ensure English-speaking readers wouldn’t miss out on the details. Indeed, I also corrected the occasional issue with the German original – sometimes it helps to be a history buff.

This project was the first of three separate projects that went on to win a Red Dot Award for Communication Design.

Expertise matters

Copywriting skills

Being an accomplished copywriter, I’m pretty flexible. Naming, brand development, SEO copywriting, content design, and UX: All these skills and more are reflected in my work as an adaptation and transcreation specialist.

More about copywriting

Translation skills

Translation is always part of any adaptation, marketing translation, creative translation, transcreation, or whatever we want to call this service. That’s why my translation skills play a big role.

More about translation

Subject matter expertise

My specialisations fall under high-tech, high-end, and high-profile. If you want to really convince someone else of the value of something, you first have to understand it yourself.

More about my specialisations

My approach to translation and adaptation:
the academic perspective

If interested, you can read more about my translation process and approach to adaptation and transcreation in an interview with me in the world-renowned translation journal, Cultus: The Journal of Intercultural Mediation and Communication, 2021:4.

Do you need creativesnappycleverlivelypersuasivesmartbetter transcreations?

Whether you have concrete needs right now or are thinking ahead to the future, please contact me today.

New, interesting clients are always welcome, but my capacities are limited.

Get in touch soon to guarantee my availability for your English copywriting and German-to-English translation and transcreation projects.

I look forward to speaking with you!

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