Case study: The transcreation of a slogan

Case study: The transcreation of a slogan

So, let’s get immediately to the point: what’s transcreation?

Transcreation = translation + copywriting

Basically, I take your original text, I translate it, and then I revise/rewrite/revolutionise words, sentences, and paragraphs to make sure it stays true not to the original wording, but to the originally intended impact.

I do this by (i) understanding why your message works in English and (ii) crafting content that works equally well in Italian.

That’s like having the best of two worlds.

It’s great for slogans, press releases, product descriptions, newsletters… and basically any other text that serves to connect, engage, and ultimately sell rather than simply inform.

Now, let’s play for a moment.

We’ll pretend that I’ve been asked to translate/transcreate the catchphrase of 3manfactory, a brand growth agency based in the UK:

“We Are The Brand Growth Agency That Engineers Competitive Advantage”.

If I had to suggest an Italian version, I’d work as follows.

After analyzing the company’s website, material, tone of voice, etc., I’d kick things off with a literal translation, just to see how it goes. It reads like this:

“Siamo un’agenzia di branding che ingegnerizza vantaggi competitivi”.

It reeeeeally makes no sense in the target language! Also, the concept of “brand growth” gets lost because in Italian you’d only say the equivalent of “branding agency”.

Therefore, I’d start playing with words and ideas. The whole website is based on this concept of “brand engineering” and on some general “factory vibes”, and I’d have to take that into account.

These are some possible options I can think of:

“Costruiamo il tuo brand e il tuo vantaggio competitivo, un pezzo alla volta.”

(back translation: “Let’s build your brand and your competitive advantage, one piece at a time”)

This includes all the key elements of the original message, playing with the idea of assembly rather than engineering (different process stages).

“Assembliamo brand come ingranaggi perfetti.”

(back translation: “We assemble brands as flawless gears.”)

This option includes the concepts of brand, assembly, and gears.

“Conosciamo i meccanismi del branding. E li usiamo per darti un vantaggio competitivo.”

(back translation: “We know the mechanisms of branding. And we’ll use it to give you a competitive advantage.”)

This plays with the word “mechanisms” and also includes the concept of “competitive advantage”

They all sound much more natural than the literal translation. However, they still are a bit awkward and don’t have the same impact as the original catchphrase.

My final suggestion would be this one:

“Un brand costruito per crescere ed eccellere. Assembliamolo insieme”

(back translation: “A brand built to grow and excel. Let’s assemble it together”)

In Italian, this comes across as short, natural, meaningful, and impactful. It includes ALL the elements of the original text, although completely reshuffled.

Of course, there are several other options and some of them might be further fine-tuned by also discussing them with the client.

However, I’m sure that now you get an idea of how transcreation works, why it takes much more time than “simple” translation, and why it’s both an exciting and exhausting job at the same time!