Transcreation, not translation
If your target customer speaks a language different from your own, to communicate most effectively with this customer, you’ll probably want to take a good look at creating marketing messages in their native language. The transcreation process implies taking the source language copy in order to create a new copy in the source language to achieve the same effect in the target audience. By doing this we want to change the target’s behavior, attitude, awareness, emotional response etc, in relation to the brand or product.
When we transcreate for a brand, we first familiarize ourselves with that brand (history, main products, etc.). We ask for a description or Brand Guidelines. Then we familiarize with the material to be adapted or transcreated. We ask for some specifics such as target audience (age, social class, interests, etc.). We set the tone of voice appropriate for the message and we create a brief with tips and instructions to follow.
Sometimes a simple phrase of 3 English words requires several hours or even days of research! Taglines usually say such much in so little words…
When it comes to transcreation of beverage descriptors, for example, there’s no such thing as a one-to-one relationship. Take sharp, for example. What does it mean when it refers to a beer flavor? Well, it may refer to acidity, bitterness, or may mean strong or abrupt in other flavors. But it doesn’t stop there—it may make reference to the aroma of the beer and even to its texture! We have to be very careful, define what the term is describing, spot all the translation equivalents, and choose the one that best represents the idea conveyed by the English term (according to the product and feature being described). So in Spanish, for instance, our options range from the more general terms fuerte, intenso and penetrante, to the more specific picante, ácido and amargo.
Or think about musty. May it have a positive connotation? Does it mean the same when employed for describing a beer or a wine, a flavor or aroma? This is yet another of those conflictive terms. While it may represent one of certain tastes/smells you will definitely want to avoid in your wine (for which we’d choose a translation such as rancio), it may also describe the flavor of something old and moisty, but not necessarily unpleasant (for which we’d choose a completely different translation such as añejo). On our translation choice may depend a customer’s decision to give a product a try or completely forget about it.