Everything you always
wanted to know about creative translation

… but were afraid to ask. What is the difference between a creative translation (or transcreation) and a regular translation? How much does a transcreation cost, and how long will it take? All this and more is explained here.

What is transcreation?

Transcreation is a mix of two services: translation and copywriting. You could also think of it as copywriting in another language. The text is adapted to ensure it is culturally appropriate for the target audience. This means different phrases and wordplay might be used in the target language, but the text achieves the same effect as the original.

Transcreation is perfect for all those texts that aim to boost your image as well as those designed to inspire or motivate your customers, staff, and partners.

What’s the difference between transcreation and translation?

Translation and transcreation are two different ways of rendering content in another language. Deciding which service is right for you will depend on the purpose of the text itself.

Translation involves the verbatim transfer of text into another language. The content should stay exactly the same as in the original. Translations are suitable for material whose primary purpose is to inform, e.g. technical manuals, annual reports, or legal texts.

Transcreation, on the other hand, is about expressing the message in another language in a way that evokes the same emotions and imagery. Here the source text serves as a guide, but the primary focus is on the unique cultural characteristics and expectations of customers in the target market. Transcreation is ideal for advertising copy and other content that is important for a company’s image or designed to elicit a certain response from readers.

How do I know if I need my document to be transcreated? Does it only apply to certain sectors or types of text?

Transcreation should always be used for texts that are relevant to a company’s image and/or address a target audience directly. This could include:

  • advertising materials (e.g. brochures, ads, slogans)
  • PR copy (e.g. press releases or interviews)
  • Corporate texts (e.g. a company’s website, blog articles, job listings).

We have put together a short checklist to help you decide whether you require transcreation services:

  • Is the text relevant for your corporate image?
  • Is the text designed to encourage your customers to respond in a certain way, e.g. to make a purchase?
  • Is the text intended for a specific readership?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you most probably require transcreation. But if you are still unsure, simply get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to advise you further.

How much does transcreation cost?

How much a transcreation costs depends on the type of text involved, its complexity, and your exact needs. That is why we calculate our fees on a project-by-project basis, compiling a personalized quote that includes our brief, transcreation of the text, and any revisions, thus allowing you to plan with certainty. We will be happy to provide you with a no-obligation quote based on your requirements. When you first contact us, simply let us know the type of text, where you plan to have it published (e.g. online or in a magazine), and when it should be ready. We’ll handle the rest.

How long does transcreation take?

We all know that most things in life that look easy are usually the result of countless hours of hard work. Take taglines: They boil down the essence of a marketing campaign into one clear and concise phrase. And because the manner in which something is written is just as important as the meaning, it’s impossible to simply translate a tagline. Transcreating involves finding another way to convey the underlying message. And it is not unusual for it to take four or even five hours to render a five-word tagline in a different language. Equally, the less creative time a text requires, the faster it can be adapted to its new target audience.


What documentation do I need to provide?

In addition to the text that you would like to have translated, we will require as much information about your company and your portfolio as possible: What benefits do your products offer? How is your company positioned on the market? What is your target audience and how would you like them to perceive your brand? The more details you can provide, the better. We can discuss most of the key points during our initial meeting or phone call.

How does the Saramatik team ensure a transcreation is effectively written and will have the intended effect on the target audience?

We will approach the task of ensuring your message connects with your prospective customers the same way that your own marketing team would. We compile an overview of your company and your portfolio. We then turn our attention to the German market: What matters to your German-speaking target group? And which products are likely to compete with yours? We use this information to create an appropriate tone of voice for your German texts and to ensure that your message hits the mark.

Is there any way to measure the success of a good transcreation?

It’s true that communication is just one of several elements that contribute to a company’s success, and its effectiveness can be difficult to measure in figures. However, in today’s world, brand recognition and trustworthiness are essential to helping a company stand out from the competition. To achieve this aim, your content and marketing materials need to be concise, punchy, and tailored to suit your target audience. It’s not just about the content but how the message is conveyed – and that’s precisely what transcreation is all about.


I don’t speak German. How can I tell if a text has been well transcreated?

Upon request, we can provide you with a literal back translation of our transcreated files and discuss the resulting text(s) with you. When it comes to materials that require us to deviate considerably from the original (e.g. taglines, slogans), we always produce several versions and discuss these with you, alongside the relevant back translations.

I often receive translations that are accurate in terms of content but don’t sound quite right. Why is that?

We frequently get asked this question. The issue almost always arises when a text intended to convey not just information but also a message is simply translated. The content is rendered in the target language, but wordplay, emotions, nuances, and the underlying aim are ignored. The result is a text that may have been accurately translated but that sounds awkward and lacks the fluency of the original. Here transcreation is the answer.

My company has already invested a great deal in brand and product development, as well as communication. Why should I invest even more in transcreation?

A brand is not simply communicated with words: The benefits of a product are subtly tied to specific emotions, and a company’s values are expressed through a certain linguistic style. All of this is lost when a text is translated literally. By choosing transcreation, you ensure that all those elements that have been painstakingly researched and chosen throughout your branding process are able to unleash their full potential in German.

Does Saramatik also offer sample translations?

We will be happy to provide a short, paid sample translation upon request to give you a better insight into how we can help add value to your German communications. Not only will it give you peace of mind about our level of service, it will also enable you to more accurately estimate the time and costs required.