Why localized marketing content matters.

By Adam Spurdle, Strategic Sourcing Director, Tag

In a time where cancel culture is taking center stage, getting a brand’s message right, across languages and cultures, must be top priority.

Tag’s Creative Director and Language Services expert, Sophie Youles, explains what marketers need to know when expanding to reach new audiences and cultures. In this interview, she discusses the difference between translation and transcreation, identifying the importance of cultural nuances and revealing common mistakes brand marketers make.


How do brands get it wrong when adapting marketing campaigns for new audiences, across cultures, languages and regions?

If you’re a global company, of any size or prestige, you may believe that all you need to reach a multinational audience is to translate existing marketing materials. Your creative agency has already crafted the content to perfectly communicate the campaign messaging and now you’re thinking “we just need to convert all of those English words into Spanish.” This is the biggest, and sometimes even the most noticeable, mistake in marketing globally.


If straight translation is not the answer, what should marketers be thinking about when they are expanding to reach new audiences?

You want your brand’s message to hit home, but when home changes, the content can get lost in translation, as different audiences have different reactions and emotional cues. Marketers generally get stuck on the words and forget to think about the importance of cultural nuances. More often than not, clients know the sentiments they hope to ignite in their audiences, but don’t consider the location (today, this can be as simple as how the audiences’ neighborhood differs) to realize that the triggers for these emotions vary widely from location to location. This is where transcreation, translation’s culturally savvy, slightly capricious sister, and a much-needed solution for global marketing brands.


What is transcreation?

Using basic translation alone, the iconic Milk Board slogan “Got Milk?” would be “Are you lactating?” in Spanish. By identifying the emotional touch points (nutrition, security, family life) for the target audience in question and crafting copy back from that, the slogan “Familia, Amor y Leche” (Family, Love and Milk) was developed and circulated to Hispanic audiences, instead. That is transcreation.

The term “transcreation” is simply defined as the creative adaptation of marketing and advertising copy, to accurately communicate a brand’s message to a target audience. Transcreation isn’t just about copy, it also analyzes imagery, color choice, music choice, tone of voice and more to accurately communicate the right feeling to target audience.

We do this successfully for brands across all vertical markets by leveraging our on-location, in-market expertise in cultural consultation and linguistics. We assemble a highly detailed creative brief that includes background and positioning, campaign goals, a description of the intended target audience, tone of voice, specific linguistic insights, and any other context clues to help dissect what the master copy is trying to say, to whom, and why.

The result? Relevant, compelling localized copy that reads as though it was tailor made for the market in question—something regular translation is unlikely to accomplish when dealing with nuanced, “above-the-line” content.

At Tag, we help brands successfully expand to new international and domestic markets by debunking the myth that a straight word-for-word translation works in all instances, and instead, provide comprehensive localization services, evaluating content, copy and imagery to check and adapt based on cultural relevancy. We work together with brands and agencies to create, adapt and amplify content across region and delivery channels.