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  • Catherine Laz,


Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Do you type ‘translators’ into the search box when you need copy into another language? That may prove to be a costly mistake and here’s why.

What you actually need is a foreign copywriter, a transcreator. Not a translator. Translators are not trained to work on advertising or marketing material. They write copy that is often too long and lacks flair. They lose the original purpose which is to sell a product or service. In any case, they won’t able to reproduce your fabulous headlines or taglines. I even met translators who specifically didn’t want to do so.

At Transcreators United, we have to rewrite entire translated copies and contents because the client hired translators or used regional internal teams. No amount of translation qualification will make you an expert in this field and working for a client in a region doesn’t make you a copywriter either.

Why is it a mistake? Translation companies have understood that advertising and digital marketing present big opportunities. They sell their services to clients by offering transcreation when they simply have never been in the advertising business. The proof: they pay by the word. Is it the way you pay professional copywriters?

Why does this keep on happening? Because in most case clients don’t know what a transcreator is. A transcreator is someone who understands how to recreate headlines, taglines and copy into another language whilst sticking to a brief. And crucially, he/she is a creative who has been trained in advertising and is working in the industry.

Who decides? In agencies it is the production team who is in charge of transcreation as an afterthought, not the creatives. It is only when the regional team discovers how inadequate the copy reads that the whole thing has to be done all over again. It means wasting more time, money and energy, as well as shorter deadlines, panic and frustration. Not worth it.

What should you avoid? It’s best not to trust translation companies offering transcreation services. Because the logistics look complex, clients think handing the job to a large translation company seems to be the best solution. In fact they should think about the quality of the copy rather than the ease of delivering it in a certain format. It is a classic case of technology coming before creativity.

Whom should you trust? A transcreation service run by creatives, small structures and preferably not run by ex-account managers who used to work with international clients. They hire transcreation managers in turn who are language specialists but actually have never worked in advertising. You’re back to square one.

Transcreators United is run by creatives only and deals with clients directly. No mille-feuille management structure, just copywriter to creative director to client. Simple, efficient and honest. No matter how large your global client is, trust the individual, tailored solution in order to keep control over the whole creative process. And never involve translators at any level: you need transcreation, not translation.

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