Transcreation, the champion of your brand DNA

Also referred to as “creative adaptation,” transcreation is a translation process that respects cultural references and subtle localized differences. As a rule of thumb, literal translations are not ideal; they may be suitable for some information and instructions, but any marketing content aimed at influencing your target audience and including a “call to action” should be “transcreated” so that it talks specifically to the reader and decision-maker in the moment.

EXAMPLE: an English slogan or tagline translated for a Chinese audience should not be a literal translation, it should be a creative translation, a transcreation. The process is not to “translate it” into Chinese, but to make it appropriate for a person who speaks Chinese and is immersed in Chinese culture. Furthermore, a Chinese person living in New York will not have the same cultural references as one living in Beijing. Content that benefits most from transcreation would be any advertising material, taglines, slogans, analogies, metaphors, puns, and colloquialisms, as some examples. The intent of the language must be preserved.

ON TARGET consults with native speakers in the targeted locality, to ensure that content carries the right message. Over and above the expertise of select translators, it is essential that we involve a real member of your target audience.


Unique to the ON TARGET vision and process, we seek out and respect a client’s Creative Brief, and sign Non-Disclosure Agreements to allow free and transparent sharing of this important document. Because we’re focused on the intent of your message, we need to know where you’re coming from, strategically. And if you don’t have a creative brief handy, we offer a free Transreation Brief template.


Some of our top linguists are advertising industry veterans who have written and worked with countless creative briefs for businesses and communicators. ON TARGET knows the value of these briefs when it comes to understanding:

  • The target audience (age, education, income, geographical location, etc.);
  • The tone of voice (e.g., “smart”, “funny”, “worldly”, “simplistic”);
  • The visuals that accompany content (to ensure that they work well together);
  • The platforms (video, audio, etc.) to ensure consistency throughout each medium.