It is currently becoming popular to say that something called “transcreation” is what value-added translation is and many LSPs are seeking to position themselves as transcreation firms rather than translation firms. (I would have chosen “culturally sensitive translation”).
Common Sense Advisory defines “transcreation” as a process by which new content is developed or adapted for a given target audience instead of merely translating existing material. It may include copywriting, image selection, font changes, and other transformations that tailor the message to the recipient.Sounds suspiciously like localization doesn’t it?
I think the word is unfortunate, as it conveys nothing about what is involved and even people who have spent many years in professional translation, often have no idea what is meant by this word. Even worse, most potential customers for this type of service will have no idea what the word means. It is like calling a laptop a chipboard input/output mechanism. (As if “localization” was not bad enough.) Quite honestly, I can’t see very much difference from what this word suggests and what most people understand and mean when they use the word localization. You can see some banter about this in the MT meets Transcreation blog entry if you read the comments between Gordon and me. Generally, when real people, customers and friends (not industry insiders) have to ask what it means, I think you marginalize yourself and most would agree that obfuscation is not a great sales and marketing strategy. (Why are so many people who are involved with professional translation so averse to using the word translation in describing what they do? Could it be related to how they treat translators?)
LSPs involved with transcreation are generally focused on advertising and marketing communications messages which often have a higher profile than the SDL (software and documentation localization) that most in professional translation are involved with. Since marketing often has higher status than documentation/packaging/localization within most companies, it is often felt that this is higher value work. But is it really?
We see that the world of marketing is undergoing a transformation and what used to be considered critical corporate messaging is increasingly viewed as “corporate-speak” and is not trusted by the end-customers who matter the most. Jeremiah Owyang wrote a prescient blog entry three years ago where he predicted this shift. Several of his readers felt that the essay was important enough to translate, and it is now available in 11 languages. (Fan translation!)
Many others have added to these initial observations and Simon Mainwaring also has an interesting article on The death of corporate websites. The basic thesis of his essay is:
In the not too distant future static corporate websites will be replaced by their social equivalents.
This will happen because more and more consumers are engaged in daily conversations, often involving brands, across multiple applications, platforms and networks, wholly independent of these sites.
As these conversations become increasingly independent of these sites, falling traffic will render them ineffective in their current form. Instead, the online presence of each brand will necessarily expand out into the social space to stay in touch with their audience.
As a result, the online presence of a brand will increasingly become the sum of its social exchanges across the web and not the website that many currently call home.Of course not everybody agrees, and some say this is more true for B2C than for B2B, but the need for changing the website approach is clear to most. Corporations still need websites and they still need advertising but they also need to understand what information has the greatest value, is trusted and learn how to create it or connect to it. They need to understand what is necessary to keep these websites relevant. Owyang points out that evolution from the website of yesteryear to one that is seamlessly integrated to relevant social networks is an evolutionary process and provides a path and road map.
This issue of the relevance of corporate websites matters, because increasingly, customers are making decisions about products long before they get to the corporate website. It makes more and more sense to follow these conversations in social networks as often this is where the highest value content will be. Valuable content is linked to influencers and dynamic conversations that naturally evolve in online social spaces. This content influences purchasing behavior and helps to form brand impressions and build brand loyalty. It is unwise to ignore it, as this is where brands, market dominance and leadership positions are increasingly being built. Remember that the whole point of localization or transcreation is to enhance and drive international business initiatives.
So while one definition of higher value is the extent of transformation during the translation process, I think the more important driver is the value of the content per se. My view of some of the emerging high value content:
- Conversations that are trusted by potential customers at various stages of the purchase process (e.g. Amazon, C-Net, Orbitz, Travelocity etc.)
- Conversations and content that help build customer loyalty (this could include support and reseller community content as well)
- Articulate and unfiltered opinions and reviews on the customer experience (Amazon, Orbitz, Expedia etc..)
- Leading Bloggers who influence and help form brand impressions
- Content that is co-created with customers that often facilitates comparison with competitors
- Content that encourages collaboration with customers and key partners (e.g. Dell IdeaStorm)
- Understanding of social network platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc..)
- An understanding of the linguistic characteristics of the new “high-value” content
- An understanding of MT and other automation tools to enable rapid low-cost solutions to be delivered to meet changing needs
- Strong MT customization and post-editing skills so that high-value content can be quickly translated and good translation solutions developed
- The ability to rapidly turnaround the translation of high value content to impact active ongoing conversations
- Rapid linguistic quality assessment skills to drive automated tools
- Growing foundation of linguistic assets that go beyond traditional localization content TM and glossaries
So what do you think? Does this make sense or would you also prefer to focus on the transcreation of “really honest advertising” like Gordon who gives you his view here?