I Got Your Google Translate Right Here

While you’ve been told Google Translate is no match for the real thing, it’s easy to get that quick, one-off translation. What could it hurt when all you need is a headline, right? But not only could a single letter change the meaning, you could completely fail to communicate your marketing message. This is where transcreation comes into play – by taking a concept in one language and recreating it into another.

If you ever visit the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, you can taste more than 100 international and domestic beverages. Ultimately someone will coax you to try the Beverly, an intensely bitter beverage. And you’ll ask yourself, “Who could ever enjoy this?”

Well… the Italians did from 1969 to 2009.

Just like we have different tastes, we have slang, cultural nuances, humor and colloquialisms that do not translate literally in our advertising. Not only do they not translate from one language to another, they don’t always translate from one culture to another. A Latino marketing campaign by a credit union or community bank, for example, should consider differences among Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and others. The language might be the same, but the appeal will be quite often different.

For an example of transcreation, let’s look back at Coca-Cola. A literal translation of their slogan, “Taste the Feeling,” would be “Pruebe la Sensación,” which back into English would mean, “Try the Feeling.” Instead, Coca-Cola used “Siente el Sabor,” which means “Feel the Taste.”

When Coca-Cola opted to put first names on their bottles to encourage customers to “Share a Coke,” they used the most popular names for each country and modified its message. First names were replaced with names like “Close Friend” in China to avoid backlash from a Communist country. When it comes to messaging and using images for your credit union or community bank, consider cultural appropriateness of your products and services. Identify local customs to create meaningful marketing campaigns. Transcreation is a process that is more human-centered than simple translation.


Does your credit union or community bank seek to target Latino members? We can help you rethink and adapt your marketing message to a great audience. Give us a call at 864.908.9291.

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