Transcreation is a term coined, according to many who were there at the time, by a marketing and advertising translation agency in London, sometime in the early 2000s.
They created this term to capture a higher level of creative translation service which their clients required when translating brand materials; straplines, brand marketing and persuasive content.
The key differences between human translation and transcreation are:
While human translators are experienced and knowledgeable linguists in their specialist fields, transcreators specifically have professional experience and qualifications in marketing and advertising.
Many transcreators are also copywriters in their native language, and they are familiar with creative briefing, tone of voice, and cultural adaptations needed for brands adapting their content for markets around the world.
While a translation job will have a source document and might have some reference materials or specific instructions, a transcreation job will have a more detailed brief on the purpose of the text, the audience segment and demographic, and the desired response from the audience when they read the adapted text.
With transcreation the briefing materials can often be more extensive than the source text, more so than is the case with translation work.
Transcreators can provide alternative translations for key straplines or calls to action, along with back-translations and a commentary, so that the end client can make informed decisions about the final chosen translation for these brand-critical texts.
In long-form transcreation, such as transcreation of branded blog articles, the key difference to translation is also with the deliverables.
A professional translation has to maintain a balance between not being literal while remaining faithful to the source text’s original meaning.
But transcreation briefs usually require linguists to stray from the exact meaning of the source language materials, in order to better meet the overarching needs of the brief on message, tone of voice and audience.