Ads translated from English to Spanish can sometimes read as if they’ve been run through Google Translate, with incorrect grammar, structure and meaning. In order to capture the true essence of the campaign message, it's important to consider the intent and not just translate. The process of adapting tone, style and intent from one language to another is called transcreation, a concept derived from translation and creation.
By transcreating, marketers have a better chance of connecting with their target audiences. Storytelling and messaging in both verbal and nonverbal communication can imply different meanings, so understanding how elements such as music, visuals, and interactions transcreate the message for different audiences is important.
Cognates can be a way to bridge the communication between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking audiences if used correctly in campaigns. Cognates are words in Spanish and English that share the same root, are very similar in spelling and have the same or similar meaning, such as “excellent” and “excelente”.
Something to keep in mind is that not all South American countries speak Spanish. We recently launched a campaign for a Baxter tool for ICUs in South America. In Spanish, ICU is “Unidad Cuidados Intensivos,” so the tool is called ”EvolUCIona” but, in Brazil, where Portuguese is the official language, ICU is “Unidade de Tratamento Intensivo” or abbreviated as “UTI”. For this campaign, we decided to use English for the Brazilian piece and called the tool EvolUTIon. We didn't lose the essence of the project since “evolution” in English is a word that everyone can understand.