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Translation & Transcreation | The Balance in Reaching a Multicultural Audience

To determine the most efficient way to bring our content to the masses, we have the option of choosing between translation and transcreation. Identifying which specific audience we are addressing will help determine if we want to use a particular style of messaging or something more general.
As you may remember, the Marketing and Communications For The Spanish-Speaking Community article defined key aspects of a target audience that are essential to creating multicultural content. So if we are talking about transcreating or translating, the second step is localization.

In Spanish, the broadness of the language can attribute different meanings to the same word or expression. For example, in Colombia, the term chimba is often used to refer to something amazing, and in Venezuela, it refers to something of poor quality. In Mexico, popcorn is palomitas, in Venezuela it’s cotufas, and in Chile, it’s known as cabritas. When this reality is addressed, it’s time to define whether we want to be neutral or localize our audience by the nature of the reach that the brand or campaign will have.

The Margin of Error in Translation

Let’s recall one campaign that had room for improvement in its translation. American Airlines used the literal translation of their tagline “Fly in leather” for their campaign promoting leather seats. It was translated to Spanish as “Vuela en cuero.” An equivalent to the Mexican expression en cueros, which means naked. Oops! Similarly, you can see how Electrolux’s “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux” slogan would need experienced multicultural marketing transcreation. 

If a literal word-for-word translation isn’t enough to address multilingual and multicultural audiences on the global stage that the internet and the globalized communication age have left us, then it’s time to take words seriously with transcreation.

According to the American Translators Association

Transcreation basically means recreating a text for the target audience, in other words, “translating” and “recreating” the text. Hence the term “transcreation”. 

Transcreation is used to make sure that the transcreated text is the same as the original text in every aspect: the message it conveys, the style, the images and emotions it evokes, and its cultural background. You could say that transcreation is to translation what copywriting is to writing.”

Combined Factors

A determining factor in deciding what we should translate, transcreate, and localize is a combination of our audience’s geographic location and demographic. For example, we can ask ourselves if we know our target audience in depth. The challenges of the Latino community in the United States pose us as a sector in academic growth that may have different needs than what previous market studies reveal about each generation of Latinos in the land of opportunity.


According to the Pew Research Center, “Hispanic enrollment reaches new high at four-year colleges in the U.S.” The article mentions “Hispanic enrollment at postsecondary institutions in the United States has seen an exponential increase over the last few decades, rising from 1.5 million in 2000 to a new high of 3.8 million in 2019 – partly reflecting the group’s rapid growth as a share of the overall U.S. population.” 

Keeping all this in mind, something that translators and native Spanish language specialists should not lose sight of is how to communicate with these specific sectors of the population. We need to understand their new reality, educational, socioeconomic, and cultural status, and who we speak to. Accurately defining this allows us to choose wisely between a logical balance of translation, transcreation, and whether or not localization is necessary. This is where the science of language can be a successful tool in global or localized campaigns and brands without losing sight of people’s identity and the brand to convey emotions regardless of the language. 

We are committed to everything that keeps us more human in the world of infinite possibilities offered by multicultural marketing. For this reason, we support the indivisible line provided by the various native parts of multiple languages to harmonize ideas and not solely rely on creativity or translation. The best method is using people who know the language’s deep expression and implications. We can only carry the message if we are part of it.

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