Transcreation for the Global Audience

Entering a new market is a very exciting time for a brand. As the global market rises, the biggest brands seek to establish a connection with consumers across the globe as an absolute need in order to thrive.

Transcreation is a relatively new term that has been gathering more attention in recent years. But the concept has been around much longer than that.

Warping back to the 70s in Japan, Namco (currently Bandai-Namco) was ready to open horizons. Their most famous game, “Pakku-man”, was ready to make its US debut – the developer of the game, Iwatani, always intended to transcend all demographics and capture an incredibly wide audience. Pakku-man, where the word “pakku” comes from the Japanese onomatopoeia of eating [pakupaku], was first going to be introduced to the Western world as Puckman. However, shortly before expanding to the United States, they noticed that “Puckman” could be easily vandalized (I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out how!) and that is how the beloved “Pac-man” was born and welcomed to the Western world.

Transcreation carries a great responsibility and it can be considered indispensable when entering a new market. In our current global market, creating a brand or developing  a message should not be as simple as sounding really good in English or in Japanese. It should be more of a  “this truly connects with Japan, now how can I make sure I am providing the same powerful message in English?. Creative copywriting combined with transcreation are ways that can serve as a bridge to connect the world, transcending cultures, languages, and beliefs.

Here is a more straightforward example of a brand that would find it difficult to get adopted to the western world. KORON, which in Japanese has a very “cute” sound to it, is perfect for a sweet treat. However, in many Western countries who speak English and Spanish the word “collon” might not be so appetizing.

Let’s take a look at another infamous photo circulating the internet. Whenever a foreign word comes in to Japan, it loses some of its essence due to the language barrier. Since the letter “L” does not exist in the Japanese alphabet the word “gloss” turns to グロス which is pronounced “gross”. Despite the transition, the word has gone through being logical in a grammatical sense, unfortunately, it completely changed its semantics. No lady would ever put something “gross” on their lips.

This last example is not about the word but how the design can also be damaging to your brand. “Dashi” is the core soup and cooking stock in most Japanese dishes. A restaurant called “Dashi + [plus]” probably meant for their name to be -more, over, and extra when they added the “+”. Plus [+] is a positive word (pun intended). However, when put together as shown on the image, it can easily be targeted for ridicule. We can help point these little, but significant details and avoid inappropriate representation of your brand.

In a global market, one must look beyond the bounds of locality.  The very core of transcreation lies in this vision, emphasizing the ability to create a message through branding, tag lines, slogans, etc, that transcends your country, culture, and language.

Hideoki & Co. is at your service to help turn your copywriting woes into winning words.

Learn about our transcreation team.