08 June 2010

Transcend, Transcreate, Translate

EDINBURGH – Meeting with colleagues from around Europe underlines the challenges of advertising the same message in many languages.

Increasingly, clients must market the same brands and products in different countries around the world. This isn’t a matter of simply translating messages into various languages. It’s having an idea that works across borders. I’ve posted about this before (here, here and here). It’s challenging.

My previous post about Story, Creative and Content made me think a little differently about this challenge. The point of that post was that marketing today requires us to distinguish among those three concepts. Story is strategy, Creative is an idea, and Content is what we produce to put in all the appropriate media or channels.

Here’s how that works internationally.

Stories must Transcend

Stories are strategies, and internationally they must transcend market situations and cultural differences. This often means we must look at similarities across borders, not searching for the lowest common denominator but the simplest, most powerful story. A timely example is Nike’s World Cup theme, “Write the future”. It’s a good story.

Create and Transcreate

Creative is an idea, and internationally one can transcreate these ideas – not translate, but transcreate. That means we think about how our story can or must be told in different market situations. Perhaps the creative varies because of differences in the frame of reference, source of volume or competitive set. The best case is to advertise a brand message, as in the Nike World Cup example, while specific product ads usually require more adaptation.

Content is what we Translate

Content is what we produce to put in the appropriate channels, and internationally this is what we translate into German, Dutch, Arabic, French, Mandarin Chinese, et cetera. Raid Kills Bugs Dead. Raid los mata bién muertos.

Transcend, Transcreate, Translate

Marketing today requires us to distinguish among Story, Creative and Content. Internationally this requires us to Transcend, Transcreate and Translate.

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