10 Masterful Transcreations all Language Professionals and Marketers Should Know About

Transcreation is an art form that goes beyond mere localization. Unlike translation, where words take center stage, transcreation focuses on evoking the same emotions and implications in the target language as in the source. It’s not about literal meaning; it’s about impact. Transcreation is the secret ingredient that makes cross-market communication delightful.
Jun 5 / Sebastian Ewald
Transcreation is an art form that transcends mere localization. Contrary to translating, words are usually secondary when it comes to transcreating.
A successfully transcreated message 
evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target as it does in the source. It really isn’t about the meaning, it’s about the impact.
Transcreation is the secret 
ingredient that makes reaching different markets not just possible, but delightful.
So, sit back, 
relax, and let me take you through some masterful examples of transcreation that showcase the ingenuity required to make cross-language communication both effective and enchanting.

1. Kit Kat is your Lucky Charm

“Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat” – we’ve all heard it before. It’s a wonderfully crafted marketing message that just strikes a chord. But when the brand known there as “Kitto Katto” introduced this slogan to Japan, it underwent a delightful transformation.
What started as a simple call to relaxation in English turned into a symbol of good fortune in Japanese. The clever play on words, “Kitto Katsu” (きっと勝つ), sounds like “surely win,” turning a chocolate bar into a beloved good luck charm. Especially during exam seasons, this brilliant move not only boosted sales but also embedded Kit Kat into Japanese culture as a token of success. It’s a perfect example of how a slight tweak can create a powerful emotional connection with a local audience.

2. iPod Shuffle’s Small Talk

There are Apple fans and Apple ignoramuses; I consider myself more of the latter. But one still has to admire how Apple manages to hit the right notes in different markets. Take the iPod Shuffle slogan “Small Talk,” for example. It is small, and it now talks.
Of course Apple didn’t just translate it; they transcreated it to suit various languages. And suit they did.
In French, it became “donnez-lui de la voix” (Give it a voice/Let it speak). But I 
think Canadian French did it even better with “Petit parleur, grand faiseur” (Says a little, does a lot).
Latin American Spanish went for the classic “Mira quién habla” (Look who’s talking), while European Spanish had “Ya sabe hablar“ (It can now talk).
Each adaptation 
retained the original’s playful tone and cultural relevance, showcasing Apple’s dedication to engaging world-wide audiences. It’s an impressive example of how a tech product can speak the local language, both literally and figuratively.

3. iPhone Olé

Okay, I really, really didn’t want to put Apple twice on this list. But this one was too darn good to ignore. I can’t keep it from you.
The iPhone SE slogan was another stroke of genius. “Comes in Black. White. And Pow.” in Spain became “Viene en negro. En blanco. Y olé.” (Comes in black. In white. And Olé.).
Even as a non-Spanish speaker you immediately get that one. They ingeniously incorporated the cultural exclamation “Olé,” commonly associated with Spanish celebrations. This adaptation not only maintained the original's impact but also added a touch of local flair that makes itfeel like home. Apple nailed it with this one. It absolutely feels written in Spanish for Spain.

4. Swiffer’s Catchy Cleaning in Italian

Swiffer has often had a thing for rhymes.
Their year 2000 slogan, “When Swiffer’s the one, consider it done,” relies on such a catchy rhyme to emphasize its cleaning prowess. The Italian version, “La polvere non dura perché Swiffer la cattura,” mimics this rhyme perfectly. It translates to “The dust doesn’t last because Swiffer catches it.” The rhyme is retained, the meaning is clear, and the charm is intact. It's amazing how a simple rhyme can make a slogan stick!

5. The Artist vs. the Song

According to its definition, transcreation is “the process of adapting a message from one language to another […].” And most of my colleagues will agree. But I’ve always insisted that transcreation can also happen inside the same language, e.g., when adapting something from enUS to enUK. And here is a beautiful example of this.
The French movie “La Môme” (The Kid/The Little Girl) is a biopic about famous French singer Édith Piaf, and in the original titled after her nickname. But internationally, a French nickname of a French singer obviously does not have the same recognition.
What does have recognition, though, is her most famous song, and so for multiple locales the movie title was beautifully transcreated as “La Vie en Rose” – a French name for a French name. But one is the artist and the other is her chef d'oeuvre.
This iconic song title, translating 
to “Life in Pink,” evokes romance and nostalgia, elevating the film's emotional journey. Not to mention that a French title immediately communicates that it’s a French movie, with all the artistic reputation this entails.
By leveraging Piaf's most famous song, the film’s essence was preserved, ensuring global audiences felt the same connection and admiration. It’s a testament to how a carefully chosen title can enhance a film’s marketability and emotional resonance worldwide.

6. The Inglourious Interpreter

This is by far my favorite example that we’ll discuss today.
Quentin Tarantino's “Inglourious Basterds” features an intense interrogation scene where language plays a crucial role. Namely, that in the original Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) relies on team member Wicki as an interpreter to communicate with captured German soldier, Private Butz. For the German dub, this dynamic obviously had to change, as all three characters speak German, no interpreter needed.
So, what do you do when you suddenly have an extra character in your 2-person conversation? Well, you have to turn the whole scene into a 3-person conversation, which required a thoughtful restructuring of the scene to preserve its narrative and emotional impact.
In the original English version, Raine's lines often include instructions to Wicki, the interpreter, such as “Ask him if he wants to live,” because it’s Raine doing the interrogating.
In the German version, however, Wicki becomes the main interrogator, while Raine comments on everything. This adds a certain good cop/bad cop dynamic. And it is nothing short of impressive how this conversation still flows so naturally and maintains its intense pace.
Added humorous and threatening remarks enhance this scene for a German audience, which already has a very different perception of WW2 scenes than most other locales. The result is a seamless and powerful scene that feels natural to German-speaking audiences while even increasing the tension and character dynamics of the original. It's a brilliant example of how transcreation involves more than just language conversion – it requires a deep understanding of cultural context and narrative structure.
I do have to add, though, that this wouldn’t have been entirely possible without the perfect understanding on Tarantino’s part. The director purposefully has Brad Pitt looking away from the camera for the more complicated lines, and even positions Wicki’s head outside of frame for those lines that they knew they’d have to change significantly. It’s nothing short of masterful.

7. Voldemort's Latin Revelation

All right: SPOILER ALERT for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Feel free to skip this part if spoiling the twist of a 20+ year old movie bothers you.

Still here? Great! So, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry meets a character by the name of “Tom Marvolo Riddle” (Riddle, hint-hint!). It turns out this is an anagram for “I am Lord Voldemort.” Because of this, the character’s name obviously had to be adapted to other languages, which all found their more or less creative versions. Yeay, transcreation!
The absolute standout here, is Swedish, though. In the Swedish translation the name becomes Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder (with “dold” meaning something like hidden). This is to facilitate an anagram of “Ego Sum Lord Voldemort,” cleverly utilizing Latin to preserve the mystery and grandeur of the original reveal. That’s right: Latin, not Swedish. This transcreation ensures the magical and ominous tone, adding an extra layer of sophistication to the villain.
Isn’t that great?
But why Latin instead of Swedish? One reason could be the added sophistication of the character as stated. Latin, a language often associated with magic, ancient texts, and scholarly mystique, adds a layer of depth and universality that a straightforward Swedish translation might lack. But it’s probably because Swedish has a special character in “Jar är” (I am). And adding an umlaut to a British character’s name could have been a dead giveaway for the anagram. So, bravo Swedish team. I applaud your clever solution.

8. Sayonara, Baby!

What does Arnold Schwarzenegger say so iconically in Terminator 2: Judgment Day? That’s right: “Hasta la vista, baby.”
So, how do you think Spain handled this one? I mean, it loses a lot of punch if it’s suddenly said in your own language. Hence, it was transcreated as “Sayonara, baby.”
This clever move preserved the foreign and cool essence of the original phrase for Spanish audiences. The Japanese word for goodbye is also widely known in its own right. And therefore the translation retained the impact, ensuring the line remained memorable and effective. It’s a brilliant example of how transcreation addresses cultural flair while maintaining the original’s iconic status.

9. These Gauls Are Crazy!

Asterix has plenty of beloved characters and derives a lot of charm from understated humor. Part of which are the characters’ names. And honestly, I could have chosen most of them as examples here, but I had to decide to settle on two that I personally appreciate the most.

Panoramix and Agecanonix, are the original French names of characters you might know differently, the druid and the old guy. Both have received thoughtful transcreations to fit different languages. Here I want to highlight German and British English.
In German, Panoramix (He who sees all) became “Miraculix,” infusing a sense of magic and wonder. The name Miraculix is probably derived from the Latin word “miraculum,” meaning miracle, which captures the character's mystical and wise nature. Personally, I always thought it came from the spaghetti brand “Mirácoli,” which is rather big in Germany, because that’s what I knew best as a kid and he does constantly cook and stir his pot. And I’ll keep choosing to believe that.
UK English on the other hand has found a quite different approach. They chose the name Getafix,” which is also hilarious, since he’s the one hooking everybody up with the magic potion. Come, get your fix. I love it.
Agecanonix, literally “WickedOldAge-ix,” made his way to German as “Methusalix,” referencing Methuselah, a biblical figure known for his extreme old age. This adaptation not only conveys the character’s advanced age but also adds a layer of humor and cultural recognition that resonates well with German audiences.
But once again, enUK found a different great angle for the name: “Geriatrix.” I’m not sure we’d still pick such a name today with our society’s more advanced sensitivities, but I still think it’s hilarious for an old cartoon character, and the old age is absolutely well represented in the name. It’s a fantastic transcreation, is what it is!

10. South Park’s Musical Masterpiece

“When Canada is dead and gone, there’ll be no more Céline Dion.”
Here, too, I could have chosen virtually any song from the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut to drive my point home, because they are all fantastic examples of transcreation. song transcreation is always special. You not only have to fit the storytelling, but also the timing, rhyme, rhythm, and the on-screen action. That alone is difficult enough. But add to that the crude humor of South Park and the movie’s theme of foul language, and you’re in for a very special treat transcreation-wise. (At least the lip-sync doesn’t have to be perfect with the cartoon faces.)
The song “La Resistance Lives On” adds yet another layer of difficulty to this. Not only is it another original song, but it is also heavily inspired by Les Miserables, so it needs to fit that homage while simultaneously intersecting with most of the other songs from the movie, creating a sort of medley. That’s crazy!
It means, what you’re transcreating doesn’t only have to fit one song but also has to fit in with several other previously transcreated songs. A tall order if there has ever been one. But the result is nothing short of astonishing.
We recommend the German, Spanish, or Japanese 
transcreations, as these are said to be the standouts in this masterful exercise. Though, I can only vouch for German and that one is top-notch!
Integrating the crude humor, satirical tone, and cultural references while maintaining the musical integrity and narrative flow – I love tasks like that for how challenging they are. So, I also appreciate when a colleague comes up with a jaw-dropping solution. German, Spanish, or Japanese, each version respects the original’s essence while delivering the laughs and rhythm that made the movie a global phenomenon.

See it for yourself, but careful, explicit language.
Original: https://youtu.be/LonKGuS9uuQ
German: https://youtu.be/kgYSoiWDAqc
Spanish: https://youtu.be/XwqqH3TjHmw
Japanese: https://youtu.be/Q1SUGhyIsrU
More languages: https://youtu.be/pEU6wne9bjw


These examples are among the best of the best that transcreation has to offer.
Each instance showcases the brilliance of transcreation, moving past simple translations and towards culturally resonant and emotionally impactful messages, keeping the delicate balance of creativity, cultural understanding, and linguistic precision.
As we celebrate these masterful 
adaptations, we recognize the vital role transcreation plays in bridging cultural divides and opening markets. Nothing will reach your audience like emotions do, and that’s what transcreation is all about.
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And if you want to learn even more about transcreation or how to become a better transcreator, may we recommend our Transcreation Masterclass.
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